Marvel hasn’t always utilized Black Widow in the best way. But Avengers: Endgame gave her story a fitting conclusion. Even if there is some controversy.
Avengers: Endgame is truly the end of an era, with the film wrapping up most of the storylines for each of the main characters in the MCU thus far. The film specifically focuses on closing out major stories for the core 6 members of the Avengers. One of those main endings is for Black Widow, and it’s one we think is justified. Be warned, we’re diving into MAJOR SPOILERS for Avengers: Endgame.
Until Captain America: The Winter Soldier came along, it felt like Marvel didn’t know how to properly utilize Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanoff. She’s been used as a pawn by male characters or the token female in the group, which is a shame because she could have been a much more interesting character – one that had a lot more depth from the start. We get some slight indications of this in Iron Man 2, and more so in The Avengers. But Avengers: Age of Ultron did very little to help the character.
Ultron tried to enforce the idea that because she was a woman she had to feel like a monster because she couldn’t have children. Not because she’s killed countless people. Not because she was a ruthless spy. But because she can’t be the happy homemaker. Despite that never once being a legitimate part of who her character was. There was never once any indication that this was an aspect of this character’s drive or intentions. Throwing it in there in order to manufacture a relationship between her and Bruce Banner felt cheap, dirty, and stupid. Luckily, it’s an element that didn’t seem to last long outside of that film.
With Ultron aside, when we look at the saga of Black Widow, and who she is in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame, there’s a much better story. This is a person who started off as a spy and a killer for the KGB and Soviet forces. She’s someone who could have been killed by SHIELD, and Hawkeye, but he saw something good in her. He saw that she could become something better, and she did. She found a place in SHIELD, with Clint and Nick Fury, where she could do good for this world with the talents she had.
She saw that world get torn apart in Winter Soldier, when it was revealed that SHIELD was really HYDRA. She then rebuilt things with the Avengers. Forming a pseudo family with this team of heroes, and beginning to find her place again only for it to be ripped away again and again. First with the events of Civil War, then with the events of Infinity War. It’s brought her to a place where she has constantly tried to rebuild and keep this family of hers together no matter what it takes.
That ends up being the driving force for Natasha in this film, and we see that not only in her actions for the missions, but for how she acts throughout the entire film. She is torn apart at the beginning of Endgame, after having just lost to Thanos. But after the five year gap, when the Avengers are essentially no more, she’s even more destroyed. She pieces everything together by still keeping contact with Rhodey, Carol Danvers, Okoye, Nebula and Rocket. But overall she’s a shell of what she used to be.
When everyone reunites, she’s back to being the Natasha we know and love from Winter Soldier and Civil War. She’s on top of things, she’s happy, she’s making jokes to everyone. There is a major dramatic shift in her character and her persona when the team is together. Because this is her family. These are the people she loves. This is her life, and it what makes her feel whole. Even when everyone else is nervous about how things are going to turn out, she’s positive about things, because she has them.
That’s what makes this chapter in her story so fantastic, and why her death means even more. When her and Hawkeye go to Vormir and she sacrifices herself, it’s clear that she has no issue with this. It’s clear that she is happy to do this for her family. The last shot of her before she falls is her smirking as she jumps off the wall of the mountain. Because she knows she’s doing what’s right. She’s making the same type of sacrifice that Tony does at the end of the film.
It’s been interesting to see the reactions to her death, as many people have said that they feel cheated by having her killed off. Yet there’s nothing but praise for the fact that Tony sacrifices himself. Natasha is doing the same exact thing that Tony is. She is making the choice to do what is right for the universe. She knows they can succeed. She has faith in the team. She has faith in her family. She also knows that while this may be her final moment – that her life may have ended with this mission – she can end it knowing they were all together again.
Natasha’s sacrifice is heartbreaking. But it’s one of the most powerful moments in the film, because it forever makes her a hero. She finally took a stand to say, I’m willing to fully put my life on the line to save the entire universe, and bring back my full family. That’s something that was foreign to her at the start of the character’s journey. Maybe not at the start of Iron Man 2, but definitely the start of her time at SHIELD.
Black Widow is dead, and her death helped save the universe just as much as Tony Stark’s did. And she should be remembered in the same way. The good thing is, she’s not gone forever. Marvel is currently in pre-production on an origin film for the character, which feels a smidge anti-climactic now. But knowing that we’ll get to see her on screen at least one last time, is exciting.
For now you can catch the end of Natasha Romanoff’s story in Avengers: Endgame, which is currently in theaters everywhere.