Avengers: Endgame was an epic culmination of over a decade of storytelling, though not all of Marvel Studios’ main heroes survived in the end. One being Natasha Romanoff, who made the ultimate sacrifice in order for the Avengers to obtain one of the last Infinity Stones to defeat Thanos once and for all. Now, two years later, Scarlett Johansson is leading her own solo film as Romanoff in Black Widow, with the story being set before her heartbreaking death. With such a pivotal moment looming in Natasha’s future, it was always going to affect the narrative and outcome of her long-awaited film.
The filmmakers behind Black Widow certainly had a lot to say regarding how Natasha’s sacrifice factors into the movie. When asked about how her final heroic act would play into the greater story at the Black Widow global press conference, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige proclaimed, “Well, it meant that we very specifically knew there was a large period of her life that we didn’t know about. Not just her childhood, but this period of time between Civil War and Infinity War. And that period we felt was ripe to creatively focus on, to be able to discover more about her past and more about her present.”
The period between Civil War and Infinity War makes for the perfect time to tell a solo story, especially considering the major development of Natasha’s “family” – a group of spies forced to break out an untimely reunion after being split apart for years. By being able to reunite one family together, Natasha has a new outlook on her Avengers team, leaving her more determined than ever to bring them back together later on, and no matter the cost – even when it ends with her own life on the line.
The character of Natasha Romanoff has developed greatly since her first appearance in 2010’s Iron Man 2, and Black Widow serves as a great prologue to her final moments in Infinity War and Endgame. No one knows Natasha’s development better than Scarlett Johansson herself, and when asked about how her eventual demise played into her psyche and portrayal of the character in Black Widow, she stated, “It was important because… Well, we started talking about this film as more of a serious possibility when we were doing Infinity War, so we already knew what Endgame was for Natasha.”
Going more into detail on how Natasha’s sacrifice impacted the development of the film, Johansson said, “We wanted to make sure that was a choice that she made actively, that it felt like she had resolved then. So knowing that, we then had to kind of work backwards so that she could get to a place where that is possible. And we knew that in this film, she had to evolve into a place where she was moving forward in her life and had resolved the trauma from her past so that she felt like a different person moving forward.”
Telling a character’s story while having already told its ultimate ending can certainly be a challenge though, as further detailed by Johansson. On portraying a character who has already been killed off, the actress had to say that, “It was a weird way of working. I guess that’s always the case with a prequel. I’ve never done anything like that before. It was interesting to be working on something presently that also played into what you would be doing in the future that was reflective of the past.”
Black Widow’s story serves as a nice closure to the pivotal Avenger that is Natasha Romanoff. To fans who like to watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe in chronological order as opposed to when released, it’s an effective set-up for her arc going into the last two Avengers films, giving the lead an emotional send-off that will resonate with viewers even after the film. Black Widow also goes as far as to set up the future (and past) of the supporting characters involved. This makes it clear that as the MCU moves forward, its stories will always honor its original heroes, Natasha Romanoff in this case, in whatever way possible.