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Considering that the last episode of Loki depicted the void in space and time where garbage from a billion timelines (and... Frog Thor?) hang out, we'll forgive you if you don't totally have your bearings going into Black Widow this weekend.
After all the multiverse bullshittery, it will likely feel humbling to return to the espionage action of the more-grounded-in-the-real-world pocket of the MCU devoted to Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a Black Widow. But given that we've seen three Disney+ shows and Spider-Man: Far From Home since Romanoff's sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame, you might need a bit of a primer on where and when Black Widow takes place before you walk into the theater. (Or snag the film on Disney+.) We have you covered.
Let's throw it back to 2016's Captain America: Civil War. Remember the whole Sokovia Accords thing? After the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the government throws down legislation requiring that superheroes register with the government so they can be babysat. Captain America, Bucky Barnes, and Sam Wilson don't like that. Black Widow and Iron Man do. They all meet up at an airport and fight about it. Afterward, Black Widow feels bad about the whole thing and helps Cap escape from the government. For doing that, she draws the ire of 'murica, and we learn that General Thaddeus Ross is going to try to chase her down.
That's when we meet up with Romanoff in Black Widow. She's on the run, escaping Ross's troops, and looking for a place to lay low while the whole Cap v. America beef settles down. Adventure ensues. That's what you'll watch in Black Widow. Plus, the events of the film occur before Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, so we're a long ways away from when Hawkeye and Black Widow had their teary moment on the sacrifice pit (?) and Romanoff fell to her death. It's enough time to make you wonder if Romanoff had any more adventures worth the MCU treatment after what we see in Black Widow.
Feel free to print this story out and stuff it in your pocket for a handy reference during the movie. We have a feeling that every viewing of a Marvel entry is going to necessitate crib notes from now on.
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