Spoiler Alert

In the MCU, the motto is “It’s all connected.” This includes the Disney+ series Secret Invasion and 2021’s Black Widow. In the third episode of Secret Invasion, we hear a familiar name, Dreykov. In the episode, we get a flashback scene of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) at a diner in New York City, circa 1998. He was there meeting with his Skrull contact Varra (Charlayne Woodard), and Varra mentions to Fury that the information she’s supplied to him will “put Dreykov’s men on their heels.” Fury responded with, “It sounds like you already have.”

The Dreykov in question on Secret Invasion is General Dreykov, a Russian operative first introduced as the primary villain in Black Widow in 2021, played by Ray Winstone. Marvel movies mentioned Dreykov as early as the first Avengers, as a part of Black Widow’s nefarious past. Given the Black Widow connection, does this mention of Dreykov in Secret Invasion suggest that Nick Fury was aware of Natasha Romanoff as early as 1998? Let’s look at the evidence.

Nick Fury (Samuel L, Jackson) in Secret Invasion, and Dreykov (Ray Winstone) in Black Widow.
Marvel Studios

Dreykov, the Red Room, and Black Widow

General Dreykov famously headed the Red Room, a top-secret Russian state program in which they abducted young girls from around the world and brainwashed them into becoming living weapons. The year 1998 would have been a peak time for Dreykov and his operations, surely coming into conflict with agencies like MI6 and S.H.I.E.L.D. These possibly involved the Red Room’s finest agent, Natasha Romanoff. But what was Natasha’s status as a Black Widow in 1998, and wasn’t she barely middle school-aged at the time? Her age, however, would not have been a deterrent.

Ray Winstone as Russian operative Draykov in Black Widow.
Marvel Studios

Natasha Romanoff was born in December 1984 in the Soviet Union. As a baby, General Dreykov detected genetic potential in her and purchased her from her family. We’re not sure what this genetic potential means, but we’ve seen Nat do some amazing things in the Avengers films. In any event, Natasha’s mother immediately regretted selling her child to the state and tried to get her back. For her efforts, Dreykov had her murdered. Natasha would never meet her birth mother or her biological family.

Dreykov: Natasha Romanoff’s Perpetual Nightmare

Dreykov indoctrinated Natasha into the Red Room, where girls with exceptional genetic potential trained to be government operatives. And by training, we really mean they were physically and mentally tortured. It’s unknown what Natasha’s earliest years were like in the Red Room, but when she was seven years old in 1992, she was sent to America along with another Red Room child abductee, Yelena Belova. Together, they lived for several years undercover in the United States as part of a Russian spy operation. They posed as sisters, with Russian agents Alexei Shostakov and Melina Vostokoff posing as her parents.

Young Natasha Romanoff in the flashback scenes of Black Widow.
Marvel Studios

In 1995, when Natasha was 10, S.H.I.E.L.D. busted the family’s cover. The artificial all-American family had to flee to Russia. They separated Natasha from her “sister” Yelena, and took her back to the Red Room training program. At age 13, she would have entered adolescence, the time when her most extensive period of training would likely have begun. And by then, the year would have been 1998—the same year that Nick Fury needed Skrull intel to stop an operation from Dreykov, as we see in Secret Invasion.

Natasha Romanov, Teenage Black Widow?

Natasha Romanoff (Scarlet Johannson) in the flashback scenes of Avengers; Age of Ultron.
Marvel Studios

Was Natasha Romanoff doing dangerous missions for the Red Room as early as 1998? She would have been very young, only 13 at the time. But the Red Room had no moral quandaries about sending children into dangerous situations. It could be that Natasha arrived on Nick Fury’s radar as early as 1998 while executing missions for Dreykov.

At some point, S.H.I.E.L.D. marked Natasha Romanoff as too dangerous to be allowed to run loose. They sent agent Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, to take her out in 2008. But as she later reminisced in the first Avengers film, “he made a different call” by recruiting her for S.H.I.E.L.D. instead. The two initiated a mission with the intention of killing Dreykov and ending the Red Room. However, it would actually be years later that Natasha would actually accomplish that goal. But it’s quite possible that Nick Fury’s most trusted asset was someone he first became aware of as far back as the ‘90s. We may learn even more about Dreykov, Black Widow, and the rest of the story as Secret Invasion continues to unfold.

Top Stories
More by Eric Diaz
Trending Topics