In a recent interview with the LA Times, Avengers: Endgame co-directors Anthony and Joe Russo defended the film’s most controversial death scene. And as we delve into their arguments, be warned that some major spoilers lie ahead.
The scene in question is the sequence on Vormir, when Hawkeye and Black Widow fight it out over who gets to sacrifice themselves for the Soul Stone. Ultimately, Natasha Romanoff is the one to take the fall, much to the despair of Clint Barton, and to the disappointment of some audience members.
In the last week, the moment has been criticized as an example of the “fridging” trope, where a female character’s death is used to motivate the male characters. Other viewers, meanwhile, have argued that the heroine got a raw deal, since her life was cut short before she got to be the star of her own project. If you ask Anthony Russo, however, Nat’s demise was the natural conclusion to a completed arc:
“We [thought] very specifically about what was the most satisfying ending for all of the main Avengers. And for Black Widow, she started as a villain. Basically through the films she finds mercy from Hawkeye, who has an opportunity to kill her and doesn’t. And then she gets a second chance, performing as a hero and becoming part of the Avengers. And now that she’s found a family like that, she wants to do what she can to serve that. That was pretty much her arc.”
As for Hawkeye, Anthony argued that the hero’s motivation was complicated by the possibility of seeing his dusted family again:
“And when she’s put in a life-or-death situation, it’s Black Widow versus Hawkeye. One of them has to die for the soul stone. And even though he’s feeling bad about what he’s become since his family was dusted, he still has the hope in his heart somewhere that he can see them again. And I think that complicates his motivation in that conflict, and she ends up prevailing — she wins. So even though she dies, there’s a nobility and a victory in her death, and we think there’s a hopefulness in that as well.”
Joe Russo went to stress that Black Widow’s death was a noble act that shouldn’t necessarily be regarded as a tragedy:
“Death shouldn’t always be perceived as a bad thing. When people die to save other people, it is a noble thing and hopeful and heroic and perhaps the best outcome for a character possible.”
Chronologically speaking, it looks like Nat’s journey has come to a close. Nonetheless, the heroine is set to return in the upcoming Black Widow solo flick, which was heavily rumored to be an origin story even before her Avenger: Endgame fate was revealed. In that respect, Anthony’s comment that she “started as a villain” could be taken as a tease of what to expect from next year’s release. Next on the MCU agenda, however, is Spider-Man: Far From Home, which is scheduled to hit theaters on July 2nd.