After [Captain America: The Winter Soldier](tag:254973) saw Black Widow and Captain America team up in an unlikely friendship, fans were surprised when it was announced that Natasha would be siding with Iron Man in the inevitable schism of [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409).
This was surprising, not only because of her with Steve, but after she helped to expose SHIELD's corruption in The Winter Soldier, it's difficult to understand why Natasha would advocate government control of the Avengers in Civil War. But as Scarlett Johansson, and the Russo brothers, reveal, Black Widow's role in Civil War makes total sense for her character...
From Assassin To Hero
During the Marvel movies we've watched Natasha go from a ruthless assassin to questioning the morality of her actions, and Civil War gives her the chance to take a stand for what she believes in.
As Scarlett Johansson revealed to Entertainment Weekly, it's Natasha choice that is crucial for her role in Civil War.
"She’s finally capable of making a choice for herself. Which is kind of a milestone in someone’s life when they’ve not really participated in the decisions that were made for them. She’s finally at a place where she’s going, 'Okay, I actually kind of know what I want. And I think I kind of deserve it'."
Natasha's choice is to fight for her ideals of transparency and accountability, but why would she choose to do this? It actually makes a lot of sense after her journey in The Winter Soldier...
Taking A Stand
After Black Widow revealed her darkest secrets to the world it's understandable that she would want to distance herself from the idea of vigilantism and violence without consequences.
In the final scenes of the film, Natasha is seen in court, defending Captain America's decision to take down SHIELD. Siding with Steve in Civil War would probably undo all she tried to accomplish, as she would only tarnish her reputation further. After all the morally dubious deeds she's committed, Natasha is still trying to wipe the red from her ledger, as Scarlett Johansson stresses.
"She has this kind of greater calling and this huge pull towards doing what’s right for the greater good. And she chooses that, and it’s a really heroic thing that she does, I think. "
Ultimately though, it looks like Natasha's ability to keep matters in perspective may prove vital to resolving the conflict, as she plays mediator between the two teams.
Seeing Both Sides
Although the conflict in Civil War is highly political, the Russos previously explained that the crux of the issue in Civil War is each character's personal relationships.
At the end of the day, the story is about how far people will go to protect their friends. Tony and Steve both have intense personal stakes in the issue. On the other hand, for once in her life Natasha finds herself in a position of objectivity, and she uses that to try and reason with the other heroes.
"Natasha’s a very strategic thinker and that’s her strongpoint. Her superpowers, if you want to call them that, are her experience, her ability to make usually the right decision in a quick moment. And she’s not personally invested. I mean, that’s what she tells herself anyway. And so that keeps her head kind of level and clear."
Of course, with such a tense issue, there's no doubt that Natasha will end up getting involved emotionally. The Russos commented to Empire that while Natasha rationally supports Tony, "her heart is with Cap in a lot of ways."
This makes Black Widow able to understand both points of view and crucially, this will lead her to try and unite the heroes again.
"You know, I think she understands where everyone is coming from. And none of it really matters to her, you know? There’s a bigger problem at hand and she’s, I think, strangely, kind of the mediator."
Of course, whether Black Widow will be successful in her attempts at mediation remain to be seen, but it's clear that her friendship with Steve will be strained at the very least by her actions in Civil War.
Although the big friendship breakup in the movie is supposed to be between Tony and Steve, personally I'm more invested in Natasha and Steve's friendship. Which means that Black Widow's role in Civil War could be one of the most compelling, and heartwrenching, elements of the movie.