Did Marvel Just Confirm That Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow Will Stay Dead?

One of Marvel’s reveals at San Diego Comic-Con last month turned out to be the move almost everyone successfully predicted: the Black Widow solo movie. Fans had been clamoring for it long before the MCU served up its first female superhero movie, Captain Marvel. 

Spoilers ahead if for some reason you still haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame

There’s just one little problem: Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) died in Avengers: Endgame. But as we also saw in Avengers: Endgame, the Avengers are rather skilled at bringing back people from the dead. So is Natasha rising from her dire fate, or is she staying dead, meaning that any future movies with her would go back to the past?

What happened to Black Widow in ‘Avengers: Endgame’?

Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson | Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

In Avengers: Endgame, the Avengers at first accepted defeat, with Natasha herself leading the team to try to soldier on as best they could. Thanos was dead, and he had already destroyed the Infinity Stones, so there wasn’t any way to undo his snap that dusted half the life in the universe. 

Then Tony Stark devises a way to go back in time to retrieve the stones so that the Avengers can reassemble the gauntlet and reverse the snap. The Avengers split up into teams, with Natasha going to Vormir with Hawkeye to retrieve the Soul Stone, but there’s a catch: Red Skull, who guards the stone, says that one person must die to get it. This wasn’t a surprise since this was how Gamora met her end in Avengers: Infinity War, enabling a stricken Thanos to obtain the Soul Stone.

What was a surprise was who ended up dying. Hawkeye tried to sacrifice himself, figuring he had nothing to live for since his family had disappeared in the snap. Natasha stops him and ends up being the one to make the sacrifice, leaving the Avengers successful but bereft. 

Is Natasha Romanova truly dead?

A Marvel fan could be forgiven for thinking that Natasha would be back. We knew a solo movie was coming at some point, and the farewell she got in the movie seemed rather short and shallow, especially compared to the grand sendoff Tony Stark got. 

There was a reason for that, though, as director Joe Russo revealed in Esquire, which reported on the Avengers: Endgame commentary track:

“People have asked why Natasha didn’t get the same amount of screen time post-death as Tony did … Well, Tony does not have another movie. Tony is done. And Natasha has another film. And Marvel Universe obviously does not have to move forward linearly anymore. But that character still has more screen time coming.”

Fair enough. But that makes it sound like maybe some time travel or Dr. Strange-type magic could bring Natasha back. 

But as Movieweb notes, in the very same commentary track, the very same Russo brother also says: 

“Red Skull very clearly says, ‘It is an everlasting exchange. And ‘Everlasting’ would imply that it can’t be undone.”

Clever, Mr. Russo, playing both sides of the fence there. It still doesn’t explain how Gamora was able to return if the death is “everlasting.”

What will the ‘Black Widow’ movie be about?

We haven’t been told much about the plot of  Black Widow. Movieweb does say that “The movie is set in the past so it doesn’t contradict the events of Infinity War or Endgame.”

A storyline on IMDB says: “At birth the Black Widow (aka Natasha Romanova) is given to the KGB, which grooms her to become its ultimate operative. When the U.S.S.R. breaks up, the government tries to kill her as the action moves to present-day New York, where she is a freelance operative. The standalone film will find Romanoff living in the United States 15 years after the fall of the Soviet Union.”

Filming on the movie has already started, and joining Johansson in the cast are Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, and Florence Pugh, who has had a breakout year with acclaimed performances in Fighting with My Family and Midsommar. The movie will be directed by Cate Shortland, making it the first MCU movie to have a female solo director. It will be the first film of Marvel’s Phase 4, arriving on May 1, 2020.