Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame ahead…
Heading into Avengers: Endgame most of us were fully expecting either Captain America or Iron Man to bite the dust. In the end, it was Iron Man who passed after sacrificing himself for the greater good, crushing our hearts in the process. But what a lot of us did not see coming is the death of Black Widow which happens about midway through the movie. While on a mission to acquire the Soul Stone from planet Vormir, Natasha/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and her longtime best friend Clint/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) were faced with a gut-punching truth about the stone — it can only be retrieved by losing what you love.
However, unlike Thanos who threw Gamora off the cliff, here both heroes were willing to give their life so that their friend doesn’t have to. They get into a mini fight filled with emotional weight, but in the end, Natasha gets the better of Clint and jumps to her death.
Naturally, the scene turned out to be polarising. Some, like myself, love it as it explores on a deeper level the friendship between Natasha and Clint and what they’re willing to do for each other. The scene is a powerful one that moved me to tears. However, there are many who find the scene troublesome as it kills off one of the only few female characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Avengers: Endgame screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely defend their decision to kill off Black Widow. Markus said:
“I understand she [Black Widow] was a beloved character and none of us want our heroes to die, but that is the natural end of her journey, and it is the sort of apotheosis of who she is becoming. She started out as a very dark character. Even before the movies begin, she’s a spy, she’s an assassin. She has red in her ledger and to take her all the way to that sacrifice point is where her character is headed. And to not let her do that seemed a disservice to her as a hero.“
Speaking specifically about her being a female character, Markus elaborated:
“We couldn’t be afraid to kill her simply because she was the most important and the first female character. The goal with all these things is just to put these people on a journey or continue or end their journeys. Steve Rogers goes from selfless to slightly more self-interested. Tony goes from selfish to giving himself for the universe. Thor goes from obligated to letting go of that obligation. And Black Widow goes from a woman with red on her ledger to clearly wiping out all that red.”
Even coming from someone who loves Black Widow’s sacrifice, one can’t help but wonder why the writers and directors chose to keep Hawkeye alive (besides the fact that he has a TV series coming up). After all, Hawkeye who went rogue and turned into a bloodthirsty assassin after the events of Infinity War would’ve benefited from a redemptive sacrifice.