While Natasha’s vest in Avengers: Infinity War looked like a simple costume change at the time, Black Widow shows the garment’s poignant origin.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Black widow, now in theaters and available for streaming via Disney + Premier access.

When Black widow first announced, there were many different facets of the character that fans were hoping the prequel would cover: the Red Room, Budapest, and the defection to SHIELD, to name a few. An origin story that most people could not have predicted was the momentous story behind Natasha’s vest in Avengers: infinity war. Yes, Black widow reveals all the juicy details about the fallen Avenger’s one-time tactical gear. However, what at first looks like a silly Easter egg actually turns out to be quite a moving piece of connective tissue between Natasha’s two families.

One of the main themes of Black widow it is the loss of free will. The girls taken to the Red Room lose their families, their ambitions, and their sense of agency. Natasha managed to escape from Dreykov’s control, but most of the others were not so lucky. These kidnapped children suffer a form of mental abuse that strips them of their own humanity. Chief among them is Natasha’s sister, Yelena Belova, who was robbed of all autonomy to become a deadly assassin. So when a former widow frees her mind with the red powder, Yelena wakes up and realizes how little power she has had over her own life.

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Scarlett Johansson as Natasha, David Harbor as Alexei and Florence Pugh as Yelena in Black Widow

Later, Natasha reunites with Yelena at her old Budapest hideaway. After escaping from the Red Room soldiers and the formidable Taskmaster, the former “sisters” finally reunite and reminisce about their stolen childhoods. The difference between them is night and day. Yelena doesn’t have the social graces that Natasha has. She was deprived of the family bond Natasha found with the Avengers, and it shows.

Although twenty-one years have passed, Yelena continues to play the role of younger sister. He brags about the vest he’s wearing to his unimpressed older sister. She comments, “You know, this is the first piece of clothing I ever bought?” Natasha is taken aback by Yelena’s amazement at something so unremarkable. And it is true that the vest looks harmless. But it makes more sense to realize that it is the first unique possession for someone who was mentally enslaved. So when Yelena proudly points out that the vest is yours, that really says something.

Trying to influence Natasha, Yelena explains the appeal of the vest, including its many pockets and the personal modifications she’s made to it before saying, “The point is, I’ve never had control over my own life before, and now I do.” Realizing what the garment means to her sister, Natasha later admits, “I like your vest.” Finally vindicated, Yelena responds, “I knew it! I knew you knew. It’s cool, right? And you can put so many things in there. You wouldn’t even know.”

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Natasha wears her sister's vest in Infinity War.

After defeating Dreykov and freeing the Widows, Natasha prepares to say goodbye to her adoptive family when Yelena gives her the vest to remember her. It’s an emotional farewell for a group whose ties were more than artificial. The vest is more than a token of gratitude. It is a link between the two Black Widow families. Two weeks later, Natasha is shown wearing her Infinity war look, complete with her blonde bob and, yes, the vest.

On Avengers EndgameTony asks, “Do we know if he had a family?” to which Steve responds: “Yes, we”. This beautiful backstory shows that Nat had people who loved her; however, she still sacrificed herself. As subtle as it may be, her vest acts as a tribute to the family she was forced to leave behind.

Directed by Cate Shortland, Black Widow stars Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow, Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, David Harbor as Alexei Shostakov / Red Guardian, OT Fagbenle as Mason, and Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff. The movie is in theaters and on Disney + Premier Access now.

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