Although Age of Ultron has been in theaters for awhile now, and while most of the current Marvel talk is about Civil War, can we talk about the out-of-nowhere romance between Black Widow and Banner? There is Civil War hype here! You just have to bear with me.
Let's start things off by really discussing the build up to this super relationship: there isn't one. It is not difficult to dissect the characters individually and the relationships they've had with other characters throughout the MCU. Let's start things off with everybody's favorite ass-kicking former assassin, Natasha Romanoff.
We were first introduced to Natasha in Iron Man 2. What a great way to introduce a character. She was awesome! No relationship to speak of though, Tony Stark probably thought she was attractive based on his, "can I have one of those?" line (or something to that effect), but Tony had Pepper and there was nothing suggesting Natasha would end up with Tony, or Happy, or Rhodey, or anyone in that movie.
Natasha made her second appearance in The Avengers, and what a job she did there! Closing the portal? I mean, come on, if she didn't do that, Tony's Scarlet Witch induced nightmare may have actually happened. Many people thought Marvel was setting up a Hawkeye/Black Widow romance, and why wouldn't they? The two are very close friends and Avengers introduced us to that. It would make sense, they were both agents working for S.H.I.E.L.D., obviously they had done a lot of work together, and were close (I will say this though, go back and watch Avengers again and pay close attention to the scenes featuring Cap and Black Widow. Looks like a lot of sexual tension going on...just saying). Natasha and Clint do not hook up, and obviously because of (Age of Ultron spoiler, which if you're still worried about spoilers for that movie, GO SEE IT!) Clint Barton's (Hawkeye's) family, we know that they will not end up together. In this same movie Natasha recruits Hulk by way of pointing a gun at him, he basically tries to kill her - but no tenderness or lullabies happen between the pair (again, out of nowhere).
This brings us to Natasha's final appearance before Age of Ultron, and that is (my favorite so far in the MCU) [Captain America: The Winter Soldier](tag:254973). I'm going to go ahead and assume everyone's seen that or the second Avengers would have made no sense. In this film, much like in The Avengers, we see the development of friendship between Natasha and a strong male character, Steve Rogers, known as Captain America. Throughout the film, Black Widow and Cap work together to take down Hydra and battle Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier. They flirt, talk intimately, learn to trust each other and even share a kiss. This film would have been the perfect way to introduce a relationship that made sense and would last for as long as Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson were employed by Marvel...
Then Age of Ultron happened.
I'm not going to recap that film because, well, if you haven't seen it, then you really shouldn't be reading this. As a matter of fact, if you're reading this and haven't seen the movie, stop reading and go see it. Seriously, I'll be here when you get back.
On to the Hulk...
So, just going to skip over the Ed Norton version of Dr. Banner because, come on, Marc Ruffalo is just such a better Bruce! The Ruffalo version first appeared in The Avengers, and there was no relationship to speak of (unless you count the Science Bro moment with Tony Stark). Yes, Natasha did recruit him and they seemed to get along until she did the whole gun thing. When Banner does eventually transform into the Hulk, Black Widow has to run away from him to save her life...
Does any of this even remotely suggest that these two will end up romantically involved? The answer? No, absolutely not. The question then becomes: Why did Marvel do this?
Civil War theory!
Now, to be fair, this is only a theory (as the heading suggests). Do I have anything to base this off of? Any source that gave me any information? No way. Maybe this is just my way of making sense of this truly bizarre, random relationship. There is no news about [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) that suggests Banner or his big green alter-ego will appear. As a matter of fact, everything points to just the opposite, that Ruffalo will not be in the film at all. I have read one article suggesting that there was a rumor going around that Ruffalo will make an appearance, but there is no concrete evidence. If Marvel could somehow make this work, though, this relationship would be totally justified.
For anyone who is not familiar with the Civil War comic, you should pick it up. It's worth it. It gives you a lot of insight into what the film will be like. There are a ton of different ones to read. There's Spider-Man: Civil War, X-Men: Civil War, etc, but if you just read Marvel: Civil War, you'll be in good shape, too. Not going to throw any spoilers in here for the comic, but the conflict and disagreements between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers divide a lot of our favorite heroes. The X-Men do not get involved, but another team of heroes does. The Fantastic Four. Reed Richards and Sue Storm actually end up on opposite sides. Marvel does not have the film rights to the Fantastic Four, so naturally, they won't be part of Civil War, and therefore we will not see the effects of larger conflict taking its toll on an intimate relationship.
Well, now, we might. That's where Banner and Natasha come in. Black Widow will side with Cap, they are great friends and can trust one another. Banner always sides with Stark, often reluctantly, but he does it. These two would be on opposite sides and it would probably put a strain on the relationship and give the audience a little added drama. Not that Civil War will need it (much like Age of Ultron didn't need the relationship, but it gave the characters more depth), but this will at least make sense of this budding relationship.
Again, everything points to Hulk's absence in Civil War, but for awhile it seemed Marvel would never get Spider-Man back, so who knows? A guy can hope, right?
Thanks for reading!