The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first feature film in two years is dominating the cultural conversation, as you’d expect when the most successful franchise in history returns to the big screen after a two-year absence. Black Widow is an interesting mix of prequel, origin story, and expansion of the mythology all at once, paying off several major plot points and character beats in regards to Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff.
Of course, there’s a bittersweet tinge to the entire operation when fans know that they’ll never get to see the title heroine reunite with her surrogate family again, but it nonetheless provides a sense of closure. After making the ultimate sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame, a lot of MCU supporters were miffed that Nat didn’t get a funeral, especially when almost everyone to have played a major role in the Infinity Saga showed up for Tony Stark’s farewell.
At the time, the Russo brothers explained that decision by putting it in pretty simple terms. Black Widow was already scheduled for release by that point, while Robert Downey Jr. was done with the MCU. It makes complete sense, but in a new interview director Cate Shortland explained that Johansson was one of the main driving forces behind not giving Natasha a big sendoff in Endgame.
“Scarlett talked to me about it. Her character would have hated a public funeral. So I felt like the fact that she’s buried in a really private place, in the boondocks somewhere, is perfect.”
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It’s all tying together eventually, as you’d expect from Kevin Feige’s approach to the interconnected mythology. Not only does Black Widow end with Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova visiting Natasha’s grave, but it sets several storylines in motion for the future to continue the MCU’s relentless desire to keep moving forward with each new project, even when we’re saying goodbye to someone that had been a stalwart since the earliest days of Phase One.