Scarlett Johansson gives her thoughts on Black Widow's controversial death in Avengers: Endgame. More than a year after the Joe and Anthony Russo-directed MCU film hit theaters, Endgame continues to be a constant topic of conversation amongst Marvel fans, especially as they're forced to endure the franchise's current, extended hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. Among the many elements of the film that have been continuously discussed, is Natasha Romanoff's ultimate fate, which has proven to be a divisive creative choice ever since Avengers: Endgame was released.
During the central time heist of the film, Johansson's Black Widow and Jeremy Renner's Clint Barton/Hawkeye were partnered up again just like old times when they arrived on the planet Vormir, intent on acquiring the Soul Stone. What the pair didn't know was that, as was established in Avengers: Infinity War the prior year, the Soul Stone requires a sacrifice. Both Avengers volunteered, eager to give their lives for the stone, while simultaneously reluctant to let the other do so. The pair engaged in a nerve-wracking tussle to determine who could jump off the cliff first, with Natasha ultimately "winning" and sacrificing herself for the sake of the mission. There was a brief grieving period in Endgame after that, but her death was, notably, barely addressed again after that.
Despite her character dying in Endgame, Johansson is set to reprise her MCU role for, potentially, the last time in her long-overdue standalone film, Black Widow. Speaking with Total Film about the character's Endgame fate, Johansson explained that, from her perspective, Natasha's death makes sense and she has no qualms about it. As tragic as it was to see her go, she says that the death ultimately gave her real agency, something that she didn't have before. Black Widow director Cate Shortland agreed with the actress, and praised the emotional nature of the death scene:
Johansson: I love Natasha. She’s had an incredible 10-year journey, and I felt that she was finally able to make an active choice. It seemed very in-character, that ultimate sacrifice that she makes. She’s made peace with that, and, in some ways, has known that’s her destiny all along, in a weird poetic way. When you look back on the films, that’s in there. All the films have led her to that choice – or to be able to make that choice; or for it to be a choice.
Shortland: That [death] gives Black Widow an added heart at the end, because it’s not wrapping [the story] up. It’s actually what you feel – it’s not a narrative thing. It’s like, how do we make the audience feel?
Johansson's comment is similar to the initial explanation provided by Endgame's filmmakers. The Avengers creative team defended Natasha's death by saying that their female crew thought it was a better choice for Nat, citing the same reasons as the actress did in this recent interview. That said, not everyone was convinced about it, especially since the character wasn't able to partake in the film's final battle, which had a shot of all the MCU's female heroes assembled together. The fact that Endgame didn't give the character a proper funeral service either, made the decision even worse in the eyes of some viewers.
In hindsight, it's undoubtedly odd to be reuniting with Natasha in Black Widow, following her tragic fate in Avengers: Endgame. Black Widow works around her death by setting the long-awaited standalone film in the two years between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. The solo film will deal with a more personal story for the character as well. Meanwhile, aside from finally giving the MCU's first female superhero her own solo adventure, there's an expectation that Black Widow will also give fans better insight into Natasha's thought process during the Avengers' battle against Thanos, and will work to deepen her emotional journey across the most recent two Avengers films. What fans of the character are likely hoping for most from the film though - and what Marvel Studios is no doubt trying to do with it too - is have Black Widow finally, truly justify Natasha Romanoff's death in Avengers: Endgame.