There are plenty of aspects of Marvel's vast and complicated history that didn't quite make it into the movies, and for the most part that's a good thing, as the MCU has its own streamlined narrative. But in some cases, injecting a little bit of comic lore into the MCU might just solve some problems, as well as make for an interesting relationship dynamic.
Such is the case of Black Widow and the Winter Soldier, two characters who have butted heads several times in the MCU without a hint to their long Marvel Comics history. Or, maybe a small hint, like this moment in Civil War:
In the comics, Natasha Romanoff and Bucky Barnes have a fascinating relationship, one which dates right back to their time training together in the Red Room. This has been alluded to a few times in the films, intentionally or not, but the MCU has a rather confused mythology when it comes to the details of Hydra and the Red Room, which is where that pesky plot hole comes in.
Are Hydra Russian Now?
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War, the language exchanged between Bucky and his Hydra handlers is Russian. In Civil War we also learn that the Winter Soldier program was based in Siberia, and it was a Russian operation. And yet somehow, this was also Hydra.
As we know from The First Avenger, Hydra are primarily a German operation (although Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 revealed their ancient origins). The move to Russia is never explained, which is a shame, because this could be used to connect Bucky's story with Natasha's. Nat rarely talks about her past, but she did drop a little hint to Steve in The Winter Soldier about her time as a Black Widow agent.
"When I joined S.H.I.E.L.D. I thought I was going straight but really, I just traded in the KGB for Hydra."
In the comics the Red Room is run by Department X, a Soviet spy agency, so the KGB works as a neat stand-in without needing to provide comic context.
However, this does serve to separate Bucky and Natasha's histories, which is a shame, as some exposition about Hydra's move to Russia — and perhaps an alliance with the KGB — would have explained a lot. So, could we see all of this sorted out in a Black Widow solo movie?
A Shared History
Fans have been clamoring for years to get Natasha's past explored in the MCU. We know she used to be bad because we've been told so many times, but do you know what's better than crafty allusions to a shadowy past? Seeing that backstory on the big screen. Joss Whedon may have teased Nat's history in Age of Ultron, but his version of the tale was disappointing at best (and outright insulting at worst). Arguably, Agent Carter Season 1 did a better job of it with their own Black Widow agent, Dottie Underwood.
Nat's history as a Black Widow agent is really the first thing we'd like to see in a potential solo movie, which might actually happen eventually, if Kevin Feige's latest murmurings on the subject are anything to go by. Ideally, this film should take place between Civil War and the next Avengers movie, because of Nat's current status as a rogue hero on the run. Unfortunately, thanks to the phase plans this probably won't happen. But if Nat does get a film, this could bridge the gap between her story and that of Bucky Barnes.
While training together, Bucky and Natasha fell in love, and started an illicit relationship. They managed to rekindle their romance after years apart when they both became Avengers, and their love story is one of the best Marvel has turned out, although it ended tragically with Nat losing her memories of Bucky.
Of course, there are many fans who would like to see the romantic aspect of their relationship in the MCU, but even beyond that, it would be nice to get that small confirmation that the two characters have a shared past. Now that Bucky has regained most of his memories, it would be interesting to see him explore the consequences of his time as the Winter Soldier.
Teaming up with Nat in her solo movie would not only be an interesting way to develop both characters, this could also add some depth to Bucky's story. And of course, going into all this in detail would offer an explanation for those little inconsistencies in the MCU's mythology. Here's hoping Marvel considers thes possibilities when they consider whether to make a solo Black Widow movie after all.