“I’ve got red in my ledger” has been the defining line for Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe ever since she spoke it in 2012’s The Avengers, written and directed by Joss Whedon. Fans speculated as to whether the phrase referred to her work for the Red Room, blood she’s spilled, a debt she has to pay, or even Russian communism. Whatever it was, her ledger is clean after her sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame, according to the creative team behind the film.
In Avengers: Endgame, Back Widow sacrifices herself on Vormir to obtain the Soul Stone during the Avengers’ trip through time to collect the Infinity Stones. “Death is not always a bad thing,” co-director Joe Russo says on the film’s commentary track, included with the home media release, during the scene on Vormir. “It can be a noble end. And it can be spiritual, and it can be heroic. If you sacrifice yourself for billions, it would seem to be a powerful ending to your story.
Co-writer Christopher Markus adds, “And for a character who has been trying to ‘erase the red in her ledger," to use Joss's phrase, this is the final erasure.” McFeely concludes, “That's what the arc for all these folks is, right? That she went from guilty to erasing all this… I can't think of a better endpoint.”
That may be the end of Black Widow’s life, but it won’t be the end of her story in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For the first time, Black Widow will headline her own film, which kicks off the fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War, which may seem like a strange way to kick off a new phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has asked fans to trust him on this.
"There's a method to the madness," Feige said in June. "There's always a method and doing things in an unexpected way is something we find fun. There are ways to do prequels that are less informative or answer questions you didn't necessarily have, and then there are ways to do prequels where you learn all sorts of things you never knew before."
Black Widow opens in theaters on May 1, 2020. Other upcoming Marvel Studios projects include The Falcon and The Winter Soldier in fall 2020, The Eternals on November 6, 2020, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on February 12, 2021, WandaVision in spring 2021, Loki in spring 2021, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on May 7, 2021, What If? In summer 2021, Hawkeye in fall 2021, and Thor: Love and Thunder on November 5, 2021.