Marvel finally paid off Loki’s Avengers insult to Black Widow 9 years later

Thanks to a moment in Black Widow, one of Loki’s memorable taunts of Natasha Romanoff in the Avengers finally makes sense.

Warning: this message contains Black Widow spoilers.

In The Avengers, Loki mocks Natasha by mentioning Dreykov’s daughter – and the Taskmaster and Budapest reveal that the two of them explain exactly what that line means. After almost a decade, Black Widow finally explained why Loki used this particular moment in Natasha’s past to try to upset her. When captured on Nick Fury’s helicarrier, the MCU’s God of Mischief goads Black Widow with knowledge of his past sins, mentioning crimes he says can never be atoned for, including mentioning from Dreykov’s daughter.

The question of Natasha’s past was only brought up for the majority of the MCU teased by the way The Avengers by Loki and Natasha herself, then more substantially in Age of Ultron. This film established Nat’s story with the Red Room and what her masters and attackers put her through in the name of turning her into a weapon. This setup never saw any sort of follow-up until the belated effort to finally tell Black Widow’s own story arrives with Phase 4.

Related: Black Widow’s Ending Explained

While Black Widow deliberately skipping the atrocities on Natasha’s mind and body in the Red Room (other than in an opening credits sequence close to the best of the franchise), it tells of a bigger origin: how she became an Avenger . Recalling Loki’s manipulative insult – using her trauma against her – Black Widow reveals that the cost of becoming an Avenger included the murder of Dreykov’s daughter as collateral damage in Budapest.

Why Dreykov’s daughter haunts the Black Widow so much after Budapest

Black Widow Taskmaster unmasks Antonia Dreykov

Loki’s attempt to hurt Natasha is clever, given that it’s Antonia’s death that she wears as the legendary “red in her ledger.” Having hijacked the mind of Clint Barton, as part of the invasion of New York in The Avengers, he knew what this bombing meant to Natasha, especially with her own history of being used as a commodity in the Dreykov terror regime. He knew Natasha must have copied her executioner’s method, using Antonia as a means to kill her father: he knew she must have become the monster.

As Alexei comically hinted at, Natasha suffered many other casualties while operating under Dreykov’s control, but he carefully chose Antonia and Budapest for maximum effect. Natasha had been released from her master’s control by this time and was much more aware of her actions, choosing to justify death as a means of freedom. This alone underlines exactly what Dreykov put him through – of which only a fraction is shown in Black Widow. And even more perversely, Loki knew it was Natasha’s most haunting memory because he had stolen it from Clint Barton’s mind, where he had probably tortured Hawkeye as well. He had to know, and he didn’t have Black Widow’s traumatic past to justify his actions in a chilling final note for this scene.

Next: Black Widow Easter Eggs, References & Secrets Guide

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