In 1995, young Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova are whisked away by their surrogate parents, Alexei Shostakov, originally Russia’s Captain America known as the Red Guardian, and former Black Widow Melina Vostokoff from their home in Ohio. As their mission ends, Romanoff and Belova are put through the Red Room for further training.
In 2016, following the battle between the Avengers at Leipzig/Halle Airport,[N 1] Romanoff is a fugitive from the government for violating the Sokovia Accords. She escapes from U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross and flees to a safehouse in Norway where she reunites with her contact Rick Mason. Elsewhere, Belova is still working for the Red Room where she kills a former Black Widow, only to come in contact with a substance called Red Dust that removes the Red Room’s control of her. She sends the antidote to Romanoff’s safehouse in the hopes that she will return to help her.
As Romanoff unknowingly drives off with the antidote, she is attacked by Taskmaster, who is after the Red Dust. Romanoff manages to evade Taskmaster and learns that the Dust came from Belova. The two reunite in Budapest, but are then attacked by Black Widows. While escaping, Romanoff learns the Red Room is still active and that its leader, Dreykov, is still alive. In order for her to join S.H.I.E.L.D., her mission was to kill Dreykov. After detonating a building with him and his young daughter Antonia in it (an act that has haunted her), both were presumed dead. Romanoff and Belova evade Taskmaster and meet back up with Mason who supplies them an aircraft.