Black Widow’s death in Avengers: Endgame raised some eyebrows and became a minor source of controversy amongst the film’s fans. After all, why should the MCU’s first female hero have to die? Natasha’s death also meant she wasn’t able to take part in the final battle against Thanos, with the female Avengers assemble shot sorely missing her presence. Plus, if we had to choose between Black Widow and Hawkeye, I’d pick her any day over the rather boring guy with the bow and arrow.
But now we have some insight into why she went over that cliff. Endgame writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely were asked in a new interview with Vanity Fair why she had to go and not Hawkeye and McFeely said:
“We certainly thought long and hard about it. We knew we were killing the first female hero of the Marvel Universe. We stupidly came up with these rules in the first movie — someone’s going over that cliff. So we had to decide. By the way, you had to easily love the person next to you, so we couldn’t send Steve Rogers and Hulk. So it’s a puzzle of our own making, but it felt like it was the resolution of her arc, that if she could sacrifice herself for her new family and for half the universe, that was worth it to her.”
Well, major burn on the relationship between Steve Rogers and Hulk there, but I see their point. Despite Natasha being in a fairly good place morally by the time of Avengers: Endgame, the “red in her ledger” must still haunt her. It can’t be easy for everyone to see you as one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes while knowing that you’ve done some horrible stuff in your past. With all that behind her, it’s easy to understand why she felt it right to sacrifice herself.
However, though, I think you could also make a similar argument for Hawkeye going over. Since he’s become Ronin he’s committed a string of murders and seems to have lost sight of his moral code, so what better way to get redemption than to sacrifice himself to bring his family back?
But, according to McFeely, when they were considering killing off Hawkeye, the women on set argued that Nat should make the sacrifice:
“A number of women on the crew, when we said, ‘Hey, we’re thinking maybe Hawkeye goes over,’ said, ‘Don’t you do that! Don’t rob her of this!’ And then it choked me up because I think we would have a much different conversation if Hawkeye had pushed her aside. … I’m really proud of that moment. I don’t have any regrets. The only regret is that it comes at the end of Act Two. So you can’t really roll around in the grief because we’ve got another hour of movie and we haven’t solved the A-plot problem. So that’s the downside.”
Still, at least Black Widow fans have May 1st, 2020 to look forward to, when we get to see Natasha kicking ass one more time.