Avengers Endgame

Avengers: Endgame is full of tragedy, not simply because of the heart-wrenching ending, but because of the five years of doom and gloom Earth’s mightiest heroes must endure after failing the universe. However, one character whose arc was already tragic enough in the sequel was almost a little more upsetting in a number of ways, especially for fans who were unhappy with how Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) was handled in this culmination of The Infinity Saga.

Speaking on Thursday’s episode of Slate’s podcast The Gist, co-directors Anthony & Joe Russo addressed a variety of topics on Avengers: Endgame that have already been tirelessly covered in the weeks following the films release. But one revelation came with an abandoned storyline for Black Widow that never made it in front of a camera. Anthony Russo explained:

“One thing that we talked about a lot—and I thought was really profound, but it was almost too large of an idea for us to wrangle, but we did try for a while—is just the idea that one-quarter of all children have no parents. Assuming you started with two parents. So that’s a lot of global orphans. Just the staggering number of that. I believe at one point really early in development, Black Widow was actually leading the organization in D.C. that was in charge of orphans, basically. That was what she was heading up five years later. But yes, it’s fascinating when you start running it down.”

First of all, let’s just acknowledge that there’s an entire series worth of exploration that can be done about the aftermath of The Snap. The world would be changed in such a dramatic way, and there would be so many different routes it could take. Sure, it might seem like a retread of The Leftovers, but it wouldn’t be quite as mysterious as that HBO series.

But besides that, this single issue following The Snap feels like something that would have really upset fans who were already disappointed with the way Black Widow was killed off in Avengers: Endgame. Black Widow was deemed more expendable because she didn’t have a spouse and kids of her own like Hawkeye, and she felt like a “monster” since she couldn’t even have kids thanks to the initiation into her assassin ring during her younger years. But now the purpose she has after The Snap is to be in charge of an organization who wrangles all the orphan kids, making her a makeshift mother and thus, giving her purpose.

So while this plot thread might have added a layer of sadness to the character’s death, it would have also been a bit of a slap in the face to those fans, especially women, who didn’t like the reveal of Black Widow feelng inadequate because she couldn’t have kids in Avengers: Age of Utron. Giving her an alternate route to making kids a big part of her life feels like another step down the wrong path, and we’re glad it didn’t make it into the movie. It doesn’t help make her death more acceptable for fans who already didn’t like it to begin with, but at least it doesn’t make it any worse.

For what it’s worth, personally I like the fact that she sacrifices herself in order to save the only family she ever felt like she had: The Avengers. But I can see why this path for Black Widow continues to rub certain fans the wrong way. But upsetting fans for what is done with their beloved characters has always been a staple of comic history, and that’s just how it goes sometime.

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