Avengers: Endgame’s Black Widow vs. Hawkeye Sacrifice Scene Underwent Multiple Revisions to Get It Right

A scene pitting Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) against Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to win the right to sacrifice themselves on Vormir for the Soul Stone underwent multiple revisions to “get that right,” says Avengers: Endgame director Joe Russo.

“We thought that scene would be tragic if two best friends have to fight each other for the right to die, to save the universe. And it was heartbreaking,” Joe Russo explained to Backstory Magazine.

“We conceived of a way to choreograph it for maximum emotional value, where the lead in this race keeps switching hands in a way that you’re not sure who actually is gonna make it over that cliff.”

Early iterations of the scene saw the two Avengers come under fire by a warship transporting Thanos (Josh Brolin), who overlooked as his army attacked Black Widow and Hawkeye. Renner said at ACE Comic Con the scene was “complicated” and ultimately scaled back to preserve the intimate focus on Natasha and Clint’s longstanding relationship.

“Black Widow’s the sole female member of the original Avengers, which is an extremely important thing for us and for fans. So after we committed to the idea of her death, [we focused on] figuring out how it was going to be most meaningful and resonate,” Russo continued.

“And that final moment where she saves Clint as he leaps over and fastens him to the cliff wall while she’s hanging onto his arm — how do you as Clint stop someone who’s willing to die in that moment from shaking loose from your grasp? To us, that felt like the cathartic climax of the fight between two best friends.”

Joe and directing partner Anthony Russo then wanted to slow the action and give Natasha and Clint a final exchange before she wrestles herself free, making her ultimate sacrifice.

“From the choreography standpoint, it slows things down for characters to look each other in the eye. He’s begging her not to do it, and she’s trying to give him peace before she does,” Russo said.

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“Without that moment, that tension, you would lose any sort of connection between the characters. You’d lose what we think is most special about the moment which is, ‘Please don’t do it.’ ‘I’m going to do it. It’s okay.’ We worked hard revision after revision in order to get that right.”

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