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While out shopping at Sam's Club with my mom, I found something in the book section of the store that caught my eye; a 400-page, hardcover book entitled 'Black Widow: Forever Red' by Margaret Stohl.

As I read, I noticed several different things such as the involvement of Agent Phil Coulson and Tony Stark. Plus, Natasha constantly finds herself thinking of Bruce Banner and Pepper Potts, both who are also frequently used in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Finally, there are little quotes placed in sections of the book, one of which simply reads 'Love is for children', a line I recognized almost immediately from Marvel's The Avengers, when Black Widow is trying to get Loki to tell her his plans.

Anyways, with all of that info, can anyone determine whether or not this story fits in with the MCU? If so, help would be greatly appreciated.

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Yes, this book is the first of several novels that are intended to be set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Though there's pretty strong evidence within the novel itself, it was expressly confirmed by Mrs. Stohl on Twitter:

basically MTU which is how I think of the Marvel TV universe - cinematic but still with Coulson very much around! src

In particular, the novel makes mention of Phil Coulson's time with the Avengers. Coulson's character was first introduced in the Iron Man movies, and is only a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (There is a Phil Coulson character that's part of Earth-616, based on the movie character, but he was never part of, or even significantly affiliated with, the Avengers, and was never killed by Loki.

The other items you mentioned in your question also strongly point to the background of The Avengers and not that of the comic book universe.

Note that the novel is technically a sequel: Margaret Stohl also wrote a short story called "Red Widow: First Strike" that appears in Mockingbird: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary Vol 1. (The main story is set in Earth-616 but "First Strike" is set in the MCU).

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