- “A long time ago, Natalia Romanova made me remember what it was to feel human.”
- — Bucky, Captain America (2005) #27
The relationship between Bucky Barnes and Natasha Romanoff dates all the way back to the Cold War in the Soviet Union where Bucky was one of Natasha's trainers at the Red Room Academy. It was here that their relationship blossomed into a romantic one.
Natasha (who went by Natalia at the time) and Bucky formed a strong, beautiful and deep relationship. They showed each other that they were more than just weapons for a country, and realized that they were able to live free lives. There was nothing shallow or forced about their romance. They both knew that a romantic relationship would be forbidden by Department X, and if they were to engage in a romantic relationship with the other, they would both be severely punished for it. Despite that, they still chose to be together. The Winter Soldier even went as far as lying to his handler when directly confronted about their relationship, showing just how strong their romantic bond was. Evidently they got caught and were both punished. Bucky got separated from Natasha for fifty years and had his entire relationship with her wiped away, and at some point, Natasha got recruited by Hawkeye, who helped her break her psychological conditioning at the time, and joined SHIELD.
- “The story of Black Widow and the Winter Soldier is a tragic one. It revolves around two people who were taken at vulnerable times in their lives and were unwillingly sculpted into villains. Their lives (especially Natasha’s) revolved around lying, deception, memory-wiping, and false memories. As soon as these two try to get the other person to remember who they are and what they mean to each other, they are taken away again. A character is forced to watch the person they love not know who they are as their entire past is washed away by the people who created them. Throughout a majority of their stories, they are constantly trying to gain independence, will, and freedom and only the other can relate to the horror that’s been their lives.”
Captain America (2005)
After the death of Captain America, Bucky sees Natasha again fifty years later as he's trying to retrieve Steve Rogers' shield. When they began to fight, Bucky remembered how Natasha made him feel human, and considered fighting her now a punishment. After he defeated Natasha, he apologized for getting her in trouble and took the shield. When Natasha was taken back to the SHIELD Helicarrier, she recalled her and Bucky's time together as lovers and assisted Tony Stark as he searched for the Winter Soldier. Some time later after Bucky decided to team up with Tony, him and Natasha finally had a moment to catch up with each other and they decided to talk. Natasha asked him if he remembered their time together and Bucky answered that he remembered everything about their time in the Red Room, and she was the one good thing in all of it. Before leaving, she kisses him and says him she hasn't forgotten either. When Bucky took up the mantle of Captain America, he struggled with the weight of responsibility, feeling that he wasn't a worthy successor due to his past as a killer. But Natasha helped Bucky find himself again, reassuring him that he was not at all responsible for the Winter Soldier's actions, and the two rekindled their romance.
In Issue #50 when Bucky comes home, Natasha is there alongside the Avengers celebrating his birthday.
Captain America: Reborn
Natasha and Bucky work together alongside the Avengers to save Steve Rogers from the Red Skull. When they infiltrate a HAMMER Helcarrier, the two fight against villains side by side.
Black Widow: Name Of The Rose
Natasha Romanoff is Black Widow. A former Russian spy, and now an Avenger. When someone successfully manages to injure her almost beyond recovery, she is found by ordinary citizens and is taken to the hospital. As the doctors try their best to heal her, Bucky tries to get to Natasha's side but is stopped by Wolverine (Logan) and Tony Stark who- much to his chagrin- don't know what happened to her. After the surgery is over with, despite being very injured, Natasha goes out to investigate who her attacker is and what they know about her hidden past.
When she sees Bucky again, Natasha doesn't tell him the truth about her situation at first, but despite that, he still offers her his help and tells Natasha that he wants to be there for her regardless of what they are. Natasha caresses his face and tells him that he's a good man, and after accepting his help, the two kiss and part ways.
At the end of NAME OF THE ROSE Bucky calls Natasha and tells her to be careful. Before she hangs up, Natasha tells him she loves him.
Captain America: Two America's/Escape
Upon finding out that Bucky Barnes was now the new Captain America, instead of trying to kill him, the son of Baron Zemo does something arguably even worse: exposing his criminal past as the Winter Soldier. When Bucky's entire history was revealed to the public, civilians began to wonder if the man who was formerly a Russian spy and a Soviet assassin was worthy of carrying the legacy of an American hero. When the Avengers held a meeting about Bucky's trial after he was taken into custody, Natasha defended Bucky and asked Clint Barton (who was being dismissive of his innocence) if he or anyone in this room was in a position to say that a good man did not deserve a second chance. Despite Bucky breaking the rules while still being under custody, the judge commuted his twenty-year sentence to time served for all the good he had done as Captain America. But before he could even be freed, Ambassador Arkady Jadnoski came to Bucky's trial and informed the judge that he was ordered to bring the Winter Soldier back to Russia, where he had already been convicted in absentia for crimes against the state.
While knowing it would be an international incident, Natasha embarks on a mission of her life to break Bucky out of prison. Upon reuniting, the two embrace each other.
Captain America and Bucky (2011)
In Issue #624, Bucky narrates the story of his time as the Winter Soldier, and how he eventually met Natasha. Something about her had touched what was left of his humanity and the two fell deeply in love. When Bucky's handlers noticed the cracks in his programming when he fell for her, they put the him back in cryostasis. Fifty years later Steve returned his memories and Bucky admitted that he might've put a bullet in his head to "quiet the ghosts" if not for Natasha. At the end of Issue #624, He brings her to meet his sister Rebecca at an Alzheimer's Home. Rebecca praises Natasha and says that she seems like a good woman, and asks her to take care of her brother, for he had the tendency to take care of everyone but himself. Natasha jokes and says that she's aware, and assures Rebecca she tries her best.
- Bucky – “Thanks for this, Nat. I needed her to know, even if she won't remember.”
- Natasha – “Anything for you, James... As always.”
- — ENDING OF ISSUE #624
Winter Soldier 2012
During an earthquake that shook San Francisco, Leo Novokov, a Russian sleeper agent was awoken. He awoke from his stasis with no recollection of where he was or what mission he was on. Slowly, he began looking for clues, secret messages hidden in daily newspapers from his handler, but instead found that his long dead comrade, the Winter Soldier, was now a celebrated American hero. Jealous of Bucky's new life, Novokov begins hunting him down, starting with anyone with a known association to him. With SHIELD aware of his activities, Bucky and Natasha begin to follow his breadcrumbs of dead bodies. They find out that Novokov had also kidnapped a defected Russian scientist, Professor Rodchenko, whose one job within Department X was to reprogram Russian agents. To turn them into what ever soldier that they needed them to be. As Natasha and Bucky get closer to Novokov, he sets a trap - a trap to kidnap Natasha. The amount of love Bucky had for her was shown when the great, abiding heartbreak of his life happened because he refused to hurt Natasha. Towards the end of Brubaker's run, Natasha was taken and had the memories of her entire relationship with Bucky wiped completely from her mind. When he rescues her, she breaks his heart when she has no memory of him or their deep love for one another. While it would be painful, her memories of him and their life together could have been restored, just as Steve once did for him. However, Bucky refused to do that to the love of his life. The reason they understood each other better than anyone else was because of their shared past of having their mind's tampered with over and over again. Out of respect for her and his unwillingness to ever put her through that kind of pain, to violate her mind, even if it was for a good reason, he instead chose to let Natasha continue on without him, no matter how much his decision hurt him.
- “I try to imagine my life without her and all I see is pain… And heartbreak. But at least I’ll be the only one feeling it. I take solace in that thought… And hold on to it for as long as I can. But it won’t be long enough.”
- — Bucky about Natasha in WINTER SOLDIER (2012)
- “Bucky was my husband.”
- — Natasha to Red Wolf
In 1872 (which is an alternate universe in the Wild West), Natasha and Bucky are married, however it is revealed that Bucky was killed by Mayor Wilson Fisk's men when he tried to stop a lynching. Governor Roxxon had built a dam on the Kirby River, taking the neighboring Cheyenne's only water source and prompting one man, Red Wolf, to act. Caught by Mayor Fisk's men attempting to destroy the dam, Red Wolf's life is saved by Sheriff Steven Rogers. Since Steve could not protect his deputy (Bucky) from Fisk, he becomes determined to not fail Red Wolf the same way. Natasha is furious at him when he protects Red Wolf, and tells him that had he protected her husband the same way, she would not be a Widow right now. Later on, motivated by the truth about Bucky's murder and Steve's assassination, Natasha teams up with Red Wolf and Bruce Banner to save the town and kill Mayor Fisk. When Red Wolf and Natasha make a plan on how to kill Fisk, Natasha decides to put a bullet in his eye. At the end of Issue #4 she kills Fisk and avenges Bucky. Saving the town alongside Tony Stark, Bruce Banner and Red Wolf.
Black Widow: Bad Blood
Marvel Cinematic Universe
- “I know how much Barnes means to you. I really do.”
- — Natasha to Steve
The Winter Soldier attacked and shot Natasha while she was escorting a nuclear engineer out of Iran. She searched for him after the incident, but found nothing. Five years later, she fought against the Winter Soldier in Washington DC, alongside Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson. He shot her a second time. She fought the Winter Soldier a third time two years later at the Joint Counter Terrorist Centre Building in Berlin. As he strangled her, she asked him to at least recognize her. During the Civil War, Natasha recruits Black Panther to Stark's team, hoping this will keep Black Panther accountable and prevent him from killing the Winter Soldier. When T'Challa tries to go after Bucky, Natasha stops him and gives Bucky (and Steve) enough time to escape.
- “I said I'd help you find him. Not catch him. There's a difference.”
- — Natasha to T'Challa about Bucky
In Black Widow, Melina Vostokoff reveals information about HYDRA and the Winter Soldier project to Natasha.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- Natasha tells Steve that she'd encountered the Winter Soldier once before, and he'd shot her.
- As he's hunting her down, Bucky says in Russian about Natasha: “Она y меня.” which means “I have her.”
Captain America: Civil War
- Natasha and Bucky fight while he's under brainwashing. She asks him to recognize her.
- Bucky takes Natasha's gun in Siberia. He keeps it, as seen in Avengers: Infinity War, and tells Rocket Racoon that it's not for sale.
- Bucky tells Natasha he remembers everything in the Red Room, and she was the only good thing in all of it.
- In Captain America (2005), Natasha throws Bucky a birthday party and bakes him a cake.
- Bucky considers fighting Natasha a punishment.
- After seeing him again for the first time in years, Natasha thinks back to her and Bucky's time in the Red Room as lovers.
- In Winter Soldier (2012) Bucky says that no one could understand him. No one but Natasha.
- In Black Widow (2010) Issue #10, Natasha and Bucky go out on a date and she tells him she loves him.
- In Winter Soldier (2012) Bucky says that he was a soldier with no home, until Natasha gave him one.
- Natasha calls Bucky “Darling” and “Sweetheart” and other pet names in Russian/English.
- In Captain America & Bucky: The Life of Bucky Barnes by Ed Brubaker, Bucky brings Natasha to meet his sister Rebecca in an Alzheimer’s home. Rebecca tells Natasha that she seems like a good woman and asks him to take care of her brother.
- In Fear Itself, when Bucky wakes up in the infirmary after “dying” Natasha kisses his hand.
- Bucky and Natasha both have motorcycles in the comics, and occasionally rode with each other.
- In Captain America (2005), Natasha calls Bucky “мили мой” which stands for “My Dear” in Russian. In Thunderbolts, Bucky has a memory of Natasha calling him “My Star” in Russian as well.
- In the Black Widow 2020 run by Kelly Thompson, Natasha was kidnapped and brainwashed by Madame Hydra and other supervillains, and had her memories of being Black Widow temporarily erased. She was given a life where she thought she was a normal suburban mother with a husband called James. The names of the people she had in her “perfect life” and “family” all referenced the most important people in her REAL life she thought as family. James, her husband, was made to take the place of Bucky. Natasha stated that they didn't give him the name by accident. Giving him the name “James” was the only way they could make her feel at home with him.
Black Widow: Bad Blood
(NOTE: Black Widow: Bad Blood is an official Marvel audiobook).
- In Episode 9 of Bad Blood, Natasha saw Bucky shirtless.
- Baghdad was a mission Bucky and Natasha went on in their Red Room days. It went sideways when they stole a car, and as punishment, the Headmistress had ordered Natasha to watch the technicians strip Bucky's mind.
- When Natasha got changed in her undercover dress, it rendered Bucky flustered and speechless.
- Natasha and Bucky go undercover together on a mission.
Behind the Scenes
- Question – “With the extensive history between Natasha and Bucky in the comics, do you think that they could bring that history to light in the future of the movies?”
- Sebastian Stan – “Yes, they can. They should. They really should.”
- — Sebastian Stan.
- Question – “What do you wish for your character in the next movie?”
- Sebastian Stan – “That I marry Black Widow before Anthony Mackie. Like, it's IN the comics.”
- — Sebastian Stan.
- “That's why she says “Don't you recognize me?” cause she's still thinking about him (Bucky).”
- — Sebastian Stan on Natasha in Civil War.
- Q – “Black Widow or Captain Marvel?”
- Sebastian Stan – “Black Widow. [...] That's always pretty easy though because I'm biased.”
- — Sebastian Stan at MIPCOM.
- “I would still date the Black Widow.”
- — Sebastian Stan on the question "Who would you like to go on a date with? Black Widow, Sharon Carter, or Peggy Carter?
- Question – “Both Winter Soldier and Black Widow have Russian ties. What kind of connection do they have in the movie?”
- Sebastian Stan – “I would say that for the Winter Soldier, for one thing, this is very much a introductory film in terms of really introducing the character. And so in that sense we’re just kind of scratching the tip of the iceberg there in terms of their ties, per se. But there are definitely some points that are very recognizable if you’ve read the comic books.”
- — Sebastian Stan.
- “We’re just scratching the surface in terms of their (Bucky and Natasha’s) ties per se.”
- — Sebastian Stan; AMC Interview - Captain America The Winter Soldier.
- Screenrant – “In an interview, Stan was asked if he'd want to reprise his role (after TFATWS) as Bucky Barnes for Black Widow. His immediate response was, "Yeah, absolutely! Of course! I mean, anytime I’m ready." But, Stan expanded on why he's interested in seeing such a relationship get more screen time.”
- Sebastian Stan – “They have a very nice history in my opinion. It’s very intricate…the truth is he actually taught her in the comic books. He was a teacher to her. It’s all set during a specific, interesting time. The Cold War. It’s all a very… spy, thrillerish, noirish story…it would be very interesting to explore that on film. I would love if the do that. You know, I hope. Maybe they will.”
- — Sebastian Stan on being in the Black Widow movie.
- “Did you know they are a couple?”
- — Scarlett Johansson on Bucky and Natasha (Winter Soldier: Behind The Scenes)
- “Hey, listen, I could talk about the Black Widow all you want! That’s an amazing story line I would love for that to happen.”
- — Sebastian Stan on Bucky and Natasha's romance.
- “And you know, Black Widow is obviously always going to have a soft spot in my heart.”
- — Sebastian Stan on his favorite Marvel productions in 2021-2022.
As the ship is comic-canon, many fans would like it to be in the MCU as well. Otherwise, fans like the ship because of their involvement in the Red Room, as well as the way their personalities interact. Natasha is portrayed as stoic and Bucky is portrayed as a man not to be crossed. Many love the ship because of their history throughout the comics, and the mutual love and understanding they hold for each other.
Fans speculate about one of Natasha's lines in Civil War. She and Bucky fight against each other while he is in Winter Soldier mode. As he is strangling her, she says to him, “You could at least recognize me.” Fans usually interpret this to mean that Bucky helped train Natasha in the Red Room as he did in the comics.
Some fans who don't like Winter Widow often use their age difference in the comics as an argument on why it's "problematic." In the comics, Natasha was born in 1928 and Bucky was born in 1925. Bucky died and was brought back to life when he was nineteen (almost twenty) and was put into cryostasis (a bit later after going on missions as the Winter Soldier) for nine years. When Nat and Bucky first met and started dating in 1956 (Source: Black Widow: Deadly Origin), Natasha had lived all of those years and was thus 27-28 while Bucky was biologically 21-22 and chronologically 31. While there was an age gap between them, they were both consenting adults and are almost around the same age. Both have also gained long life and durability from their Infinity Formula doses.
Fans still hope for the ship to become canon in the MCU to this day. Many fans think that because the MCU opened up the Multiverse now, Bucky and Natasha still have a chance together. One of the fan-theories surrounding the ship in the MCU is that Yelena and Bucky will perhaps meet each other sometime soon, and Yelena helps him remember Natasha.
Winter Widow is the second most written ship for Natasha, and the fourth most written for Bucky. In the Marvel (Works) tag it is the number one most written ship. In the Marvel (616) works, it is the fourth most written romantic pairing. They are one of the most popular comic couples and were even featured in Marvel's Official Top Ten Greatest Couples list, being #4th.
- Bucky/Natasha tag on AO3
- Bucky/Natasha (Avengers Movies) tag on FanFiction.net
- Bucky/Natasha (Marvel Comics) tag on FanFiction.net
- Bucky/Natasha (Avengers Cartoon) tag on FanFiction.net
- Winter Widow posts on Tumblr
- WinterWidow posts on Tumblr
- BuckyNat posts on Tumblr
- Natasha is one of the few people to call Bucky by his first name, James.
- Bucky is one of the few people to call Natasha by her real name, Natalia.
- On Earth-555326 Natasha's son is named after Bucky.
- In the “Widow Hunt” part of Winter Soldier 2012, Ed Brubaker was originally going to end the comic with Natasha remembering Bucky and getting back together with him, but because he left early and a new writer stepped in, the storyline was changed.
- In the Marvel Girls book, Bucky and Natasha's relationship was mentioned and praised by the writers.
- The official REALM Twitter posted that Bucky and Natasha were one of their favorite ships.
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, an American author and journalist (who wrote for the Black Panther and Captain America series for Marvel comics), said on Twitter that he was a Bucky/Natasha fan.
- When the MCU Civil War posters came out, instead of having Iron Man and Captain America, the international posters featured Bucky and Natasha together. These posters were shown in public in Canada, Russia, and LA.
- Sebastian Stan took multiple photos with fans who were cosplaying as Black Widow.
- Amanda Carlson gave Sebastian a BuckyNat mug to which he responded with “God, I hope soon.”
- During MCMCON Sebastian said that the person he wanted to see Bucky in a relationship with was Natasha.
- Sebastian hugged a fan who was wearing a “BuckyNat Rise!!” T-shirt during CCXP2018.
- Sebastian signed a BuckyNat fanart with “We Will Do This” when a fan asked him if BuckyNat was going to make it into the MCU.
- Through the comics (and from the creators) of the Winter Soldier and Black Widow, It was said that Clint could never understand Natasha as much as Bucky, and that Steve could never understand Bucky more than Natasha.
- Bucky and Natasha made a cameo together in Krista Feranka's comic run “Secret Wars; Secret Love Story”. The two are seen together amongst the Avengers. Natasha is drawn kissing Bucky's cheek.
- Bucky and Natasha have an official T-Shirt together made by Marvel.
- Mark Waid, a DC and Marvel comic book writer, left a positive comment on a Bucky/Natasha art.
- Chris Samnee, a popular illustrator and one of the Black Widow comic artist, has made two Black Widow cover's with BuckyNat together. Samnee also tagged the ship on Twitter multiple times.
- Character designer and Marvel artist Krista Feranka is a BuckyNat shipper and has said many things about the pair, Including how they are his only ship in Marvel.
- Natasha is the love of Bucky's life.
- Marvel's official Marvel Unlimited Twitter told fans to vote on a poll on who the Avengers' Valentines would be. For Natasha, Bucky won the poll against Clint Barton.
- When the MarvelPolls Twitter asked fans who they'd like to see in the Black Widow movie, Bucky won the poll against Clint Barton, Phil Coulson and Nick Fury.
- Bucky and Natasha were reffered to (by Marvel) as one of the greatest— and most tragic love stories of Marvel.
- The official Marvel Unlimited Twitter posted a new Infinity Comic Run with Bucky, Natasha and Captain Marvel. Marvel Unlimited then quote retweeted their original tweet with “BuckyNat nation, you're welcome.”
- Main article: Winter Widow/Gallery
- Cap Quartet refers to the ship between Steve Rogers, Sam Wilson, Bucky and Natasha
- StuckyNat refers to the ship between Steve Rogers, Bucky, and Natasha
- WinterIronWidow refers to the ship between Tony Stark, Bucky and Natasha
- WinterWidowHawk refers to the ship between Clint Barton, Bucky and Natasha