WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.
Not all of the surviving team members in Avengers: Endgame are still standing by the time the credits begin to roll. Tony Stark is one of the film’s heaviest losses, but so too is Natasha Romanoff, who ventures to the year 2014 with her old pal Clint Barton in order to obtain the soul stone from the planet Vormir. In the process, the pair discovers what Gamora learned firsthand in Avengers: Infinity War — somebody has to die. Black Widow ultimately sacrifices herself, and directors Joe and Anthony Russo think it works.
“It’s a fight to see who’s going to kill themselves,” Joe told Entertainment Weekly. “It’s a crazy concept for a scene. And as you’ve seen in The Avengers, she’s a better fighter than he is. So when it comes down to a fight between the two of them, she wins.”
It does make for a compelling and complex dramatic scene, especially since it pits the two old friends against each other in a literal race to the bottom. Then again, it also looks and feels like yet another instance of “fridging,” a tired narrative trope from comic books (and their film adaptations) in which dead female characters are used as plot devices. Or, as Syfy’s Preeti Chhibber astutely noted, “Black Widow is one of the MCU’s strongest female characters, the only one we’ve had since nearly the beginning. To kill her off halfway into the movie felt like another misuse of a character who was just coming into their own as a leader.”
Although her criticism (and many others like it) came after EW‘s interview with the Russos, it seems the brothers were primed for such topics — especially given that Deadpool 2 was recently criticized for using the trope. “To me it’s one of the sadder scenes in the movie because it’s really putting two people in a Sophie’s choice, putting two people in the position where, do you let your friend die or do you die?” said Joe. “The theme of the movie is, can you change your destiny, and what does it cost to do it? And are you willing to pay that cost?”
Stark, meanwhile, got a prolonged goodbye from fellow suit-wearers James Rhodes, Pepper Potts and Peter Parker, as well as a lengthy funeral scene.
(Via Entertainment Weekly)