- Black Widow’s whereabouts between Iron Man 2 and the first Avengers movie have been a mystery, but it’s been revealed in a comic that she fought Shang-Chi’s father, the leader of the Ten Rings.
- Black Widow’s mission was to investigate and disrupt the structure of the Ten Rings, a global crime syndicate similar to Hydra, which was on SHIELD’s radar at the time.
- The Ten Rings was obsessed with obtaining the Jericho missile and planned to attack North Korea, potentially starting World War III. Black Widow’s intervention prevented this catastrophic event.
Given her lack of a standalone project in the MCU’s first three phases, there’s been a lot of mystery surrounding Black Widow within that period of time. Fans know exactly what Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America were up to between the events of their own films and the Avengers movies, but have no idea what Black Widow was doing during those times. Sure, she was featured in two out of the three Captain America films as well as in Iron Man 2, but that still doesn’t account for her whereabouts in between the events of Iron Man 2 and the first Avengers. At least, until now, as it was revealed in a canonical MCU tie-in comic exactly what Black Widow was doing: fighting Shang-Chi’s father.
In the MCU film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, it’s revealed that the father of Shang-Chi – Xu Wenwu – was the leader of the international crime syndicate known as the Ten Rings. The Ten Rings ran a small chunk of the world – not too dissimilar from Hydra – with Wenwu at the very top of the chain of command.
Since Wenwun was a crime lord on a global scale, and has been for generations (as his life was extended due to his usage of the mysterious Ten Rings), it only makes sense that Black Widow would suit up for a mission on behalf of SHIELD to investigate and/or upset the structure of the Ten Rings. This was the same organization that kidnaped Tony Stark in Iron Man, after all, meaning they were definitely on SHIELD’s radar at this point in time. And now, it’s revealed exactly what happened when Black Widow got the call to challenge Shang-Chi’s dad.
Black Widow Toppled A Ten Rings Plot Before The Avengers
In the three-part comic series The Avengers Prelude: Black Widow Strikes (by Fred Van Lente, Neil Edwards, Steve Kurth, Rick Magyar, Andrew Hennessy, Nick Filardi, and Felix Serrano), Black Widow is on a mission to track down and obtain vital information regarding arms dealings in Russia. While on the case, Natasha learns that the illegal arms being shipped was actually the software of Tony Stark’s Jericho missile from the first Iron Man film, along with the necessary parts for the missile itself.
While the software and parts were technically ripped off by Justin Hammer before they were stolen and sold, the layout was exactly the same, meaning whoever received this shipment had the means for global destabilization. And the group that was receiving the means to build this weapon was none other than the Ten Rings.
The Ten Rings Nearly Completed Its Failed Mission From Iron Man
It’s interesting that the Ten Rings was still obsessed with getting its hands on the Jericho missile, especially when Tony Stark’s Iron Man tech was effectively replicated by Justin Hammer (with the help of Ivan Vanko). Since they got the software and hardware from Hammer Industries anyway, it seems like the Ten Rings would want their very own ‘Iron Man’-like gear as well. However, now that fans know Wenwu was the head of the Ten Rings all along, it makes way more sense that he’d still just want the missile. With the Jericho, Wenwu was planning to attack North Korea, which would have disrupted the entire globe. He doesn’t need Iron Man suits to do that, and he’s already plenty powerful with his Ten Rings. Wenwu’s objective was far grander than that of an average supervillain, and if it wasn’t for Black Widow, he could have successfully thrown humanity into World War III before Loki or Thanos even got a crack at Planet Earth.
While Natasha never faced Wenwu directly, merely foiling the plans of his worldwide organization, it’s still interesting to consider that in the time between Iron Man 2 and the Avengers, Black Widow was effectively fighting Shang-Chi’s father – and until this comic miniseries, no MCU fan would have ever known.
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