Avengers: Endgame screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely "couldn't be afraid to kill" Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), who died making a sacrifice play that ultimately helped save trillions of lives.
"I understand she was a beloved character and none of us want our heroes to die. But that is the natural end of her journey and it is the sort of apotheosis of who she is becoming," Markus told the Los Angeles Times when asked about the mixed reaction surrounding the death.
"She started out as a very dark character. Even before the movies begin, she's a spy, she's an assassin. She has red in her ledger and to take her all the way to that sacrifice point is where her character is headed. And to not let her do that seemed a disservice to her as a hero."
Added McFeely, "Right. We couldn't be afraid to kill her simply because she was the most important and the first female character."
As the culmination of the first 11-year chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the goal with Endgame was "just to put these people on a journey or continue or end their journeys," McFeely said, explaining founding Avengers Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) received equally fitting and definitive endings.
"Steve Rogers goes from selfless to slightly more self-interested. Tony goes from selfish to giving himself for the universe. Thor goes from obligated to letting go of that obligation. And Black Widow goes from a woman with red on her ledger to clearly wiping out all that red."
Natasha giving up her life on Vormir to unlock the Soul Stone — won only through a sacrifice that cannot be reversed as part of an everlasting exchange — later enabled former lover Bruce Banner-slash-Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) to reverse the snap committed by Thanos (Josh Brolin) that obliterated fifty percent of all life in the universe, returning to life the trillions vanished five years earlier.
Though the spy-turned-superhero was mourned by her surrogate family of Earth's mightiest heroes in a lakeside scene, Markus and McFeely earlier defended the decision not to give Black Widow an onscreen funeral.
"Tony gets a funeral. Natasha doesn't," Markus told the New York Times. "That's partly because Tony's this massive public figure and she's been a cipher the whole time. It wasn't necessarily honest to the character to give her a funeral."
Johansson next reprises the role in the prequel Black Widow solo movie, expected to reach theaters in 2020.
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