Once upon a time, movie novelizations were mere afterthoughts. Just another cash grab to fatten the bottom line. But those were the days before words like ‘canon” and ‘shared universe” had entered the general lexicon. Now? Movie novelizations live in a nebulous limbo. Are they canon? Are they not? How much of what is revealed through an adaptation of a film was originally meant for the silver screen and how much was made up by the author?
We”ve already delved into this once this year with the Star Wars novelization of The Force Awakens. But a galaxy far, far away isn”t the only Disney franchise dealing with this conundrum. A recent discovery by Movie Pilot puts a new light on Black Widow”s past in Captain America: Civil War. In Marvel”s Captain America: Civil War: The Junior Novel, Natasha tells Steve a story about her childhood:
“Natasha studied Cap's expression of resolve. Finally, she said, “In Russia, in the Red Room, there were dozens of us. All girls, all young. We lived together. They let us be friends. Then they dropped us in the tundra, two weeks' walk from home, with just enough supplies for one of us to survive.”
Cap looked at her, understanding her meaning.
“Don't let them push us into the cold,” she said.”
Now was this dialogue in the film? Was it added after for the novelization? Does it matter? Since it”s outside the MCU proper, does it even count? Who made the decision to cut this horror from a movie aimed at adults yet include it in a book for children? These are the questions you end up with when you refuse to make a Black Widow movie, Marvel!
But let”s say for the sake of argument that the above exchange is canon. Age of Ultron has Natasha learning her trade in the Red Room surrounded by her peers. Each one of the girls in that room survived the Siberian tundra. Each one of them either killed their friends to survive or left them to die. Natasha doesn”t specify how young is ‘young” so there”s a possibility that all the flashbacks to Dottie”s time in the Red Room on Agent Carter are also post-tundra survival.
If you recall, Dottie was one of the first rounds of girls trained in Russia's Red Room. Her behavior as both a child and an adult is erratic at best. But this new revelation from Natasha might shed light on Dottie's psyche. It would explain why a young teen would both befriend her fellow Widow and then kill her without mercy during a training exercise. Friendship is disposable. Survival is not.
It”s a miracle Natasha is able to maintain a single relationship in her life if you think about it through that lens.