‘Avengers: Endgame’: This Character’s Death Could Have Been So Much Worse

Marvel characters often cheat death, but Avengers: Endgame made it clear that not everyone can escape their fate. Black Widow not only died, but she died in a way that made fans complain — and her original death was even more morbid. 

Endgame’s filmmakers seem to have a particular fetish for giving their characters nasty send-offs. An early version of Endgame had Thanos taunting the Avengers with Steve Rogers’ decapitated head. Natasha’s original death wasn’t quite that gruesome, but Marvel was wise to dial  it back. 

The cast of Avengers: Endgame
The cast of ‘Avengers” Endgame’ | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

You only die twice

Fans painfully recall that Natasha and Clint went to Vormir to retrieve the Soul Stone. Just as Thanos had done in Avengers: Infinity War, Clint and Natasha had to make a sacrifice to get the stone. Clint was prepared to do it, thinking he had nothing to live for.

Natasha stopped him and sacrificed herself instead, reasoning that her journey was complete, having found a family with the Avengers. 

To many fans, this demise felt abrupt. They further complained that Natasha didn’t get a proper farewell. Tony Stark deserved his grand finale, sure, but surely Natasha deserved more than sad faces and a bench flung across the water by the Hulk. 

Screen Rant reveals the original death was staged much more elaborately, with Natasha and Clint also contending with the arrival of Thanos’ forces. She rushes toward the cliff to leap from it but  takes heavy fire, so she’s already done for even before the jump. In this version, her sacrifice means less because she would have died even if she didn’t jump. 

The MCU never quite knew what to do with Black Widow 

Screen Rant persuasively argues that Marvel never really and truly got Black Widow right. Despite making a strong entrance in Iron Man 2, she never got many chances to truly shine. Captain America: The Winter Soldier used her well as she helped Steve clear his name, but much of the writing of her character wasn’t fully fleshed out. 

For instance, the writers seemed to start to set up a romance between her and Bruce Banner/The Hulk, with Natasha serving as a calming influence. It was a promising idea, given that Black Widow was the one who brought Bruce into the Avengers. But after Age of Ultron, the idea was more or less dropped,  and after that, Black Widow had relatively few standout moments. 

It’s telling that Marvel took so long even to give her a standalone movie. Fans had wanted one from the start, but Captain Marvel ended up being the first female hero to get the solo spotlight. Natasha had to die to get her own movie. 

The Black Widow movie is Marvel’s chance to do right by her

Marvel seems to realize they could have done better, so Black Widow isn’t just a story about Natasha’s redemption from her troubled past. It’s Marvel’s potential redemption for giving her short shrift. 

The new movie takes place after Captain America: Civil War when Natasha went back to her roots to sort out the issues of her shadowy past. We meet other Black Widows, including one played by rising star Florence Pugh, who stars in the new Little Women as Amy March. Rachel Weisz and David Harbour co-star, and Marvel has put females behind the camera too, with director Cate Shortland and co-writer Jac Schaeffer. 

This would presumably be Scarlett Johansson’s final turn in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and signs are promising that Natasha will finally get the memorable send-off she deserves. Better late (or early, considering this movie is a prequel) than never.