If you haven’t seen Avenger’s Endgame – here be spoilers. This post is about Natasha Romanov’s story arc in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the Black Widow.
Before the first Avengers movie came out, I did the marathon in the theater with all the MCU movies and it really helped me see a lot of how the pieces fit together. Before Endgame, I marathoned the whole MCU (minus Captain Marvel which is still in theaters) at home throughout the month. Watching all the MCU this time also gave me some new perpective and a lot of that was about character development. After watching Endgame, I say that Natasha had the most tragic storyline of everyone. It’s devastating.
Let’s start from the very beginning. Where was Black Widow before her first appearance in Iron Man 2?
Black Widow was a Russian assassin until Hawkeye, Clint Barton, convinced her to defect. She then began working for Shield. From flashbacks in Age of Ultron, we can see that training to be a Russian Assassin in the Red Room was traumatic. So Clint is like a savior.
It’s not really clear when they first met aside from before 2010 which is when Iron Man 2 was released. Clint might or might not have been with his wife when he met Natasha (this is important later), but as we see in Age of Ultron, she knows his wife well and his kids refer to her as “Aunt”.
Natasha is an Avenger from the very first of the Avengers movies. She is now part of this team since its inception. And then she appears in Captain America : Winter Soldier. She spends a lot of the movie teasing Steve Rogers about dating. On my first watch I just attributed it to bad writing. She was a bit over the top in my opinion. However, after watching it again along with all the other movies, a new narrative started taking place. It occurred to me that if it were any other type of movie, I would assume she was interested in him romantically and was trying to feel Steve out.
She then comes back in Age of Ultron and she has a romantic thing for Bruce Banner, the Hulk. He says he’s not good enough for her, she confesses she’s sterile, and then at the end he flies off into outer space without saying goodbye.
Now, I hate to assign love stories, but here’s what it started to look like to me. She wanted to find someone to love. When she met Clint I imagine she was still a bit too messed up to be thinking of dating. Clint was either dating his wife or met her shortly thereafter. So when Natasha is thinking of maybe finding a romantic relationship she gets a crush on Steve, feels him out, and he’s completely oblivious and not interested. So then she gets to know Bruce better, perhaps feels a kinship with him because she sees her history as monstrous or because he is on the fringe of society like her. Who knows. But he rejects her too.
Bruce rejects her so hard that during Endgame we learn that after he has finally mastered the Hulk, he still doesn’t go back and see if they can be together. That was his biggest argument against them dating. Meanwhile, Clint who has lost his family doesn’t go to her either to see if she’s okay. Instead, he goes off on a killing spree. Steve visits sometimes I guess?
Basically, at the start of Endgame, Natasha is alone and has been alone for five years at the Avengers compound while others come and go. Her romantic aspirations were rejected. Her best friend hasn’t come to visit her. There’s a scene where she breaks down and cries after a video meeting with the others. She doesn’t look genuinely happy again until everyone comes back and they form a plan on how to reverse the snap.
And then she dies so Clint can live. And everyone is sad. Right. These same people that left her alone for years. The movie doesn’t even give her a funeral.
Natasha has the most tragic storyline. Bruce made peace with the Hulk and even had fans. He looked happy when Ant-Man went to find him. Steve eventually ditched everyone to be with Peggy. Clint got his family back. Thor also had it pretty bad, but not as bad as Natasha, in my opinion. Tony died saving the universe after spending years with his loving family.
Natasha was trying to lead the Avengers that whole time and those five years just broke her. I don’t believe she wanted to die, but any Avenger understands that the next battle might be the last one. I guess I’m saying Natasha loved them more than they loved her. She wanted them to live and see their loved ones again. But she didn’t have loved ones of her own that would miss her.
At least, that’s how I think she saw it in the end.