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Two of the MCU’s biggest characters died in Avengers: Endgame, but only one of them got a proper send-off. Tony Stark’s funeral is one of the film’s most iconic moments (not to mention the somewhat hokey deleted scene where all the characters kneel in respect to Tony’s corpse), while Black Widow basically just gets a few sad looks from the other Avengers, plus the Hulk throwing some furniture into a lake.
Some fans saw this as a disappointing double standard, as the film went all-in on Tony’s sacrifice while Black Widow died halfway through and wasn’t adequately mourned by the other characters. It also feels kind of sexist, given that the cast of Avengers: Endgame was already very male-dominated. Her death plays into the film’s obsession with the traditional nuclear family, with Black Widow (a single, childless woman) sacrificing herself so Hawkeye (a married father) can live, culminating in a finale that celebrates all the male heroes returning to their wives, girlfriends, and children.
Black Widow’s death irritated some fans, but as always, there were more complicated franchise-related concerns playing into the film’s storytelling choices. In the directors’ commentary for Endgame, Joe Russo explained why Tony’s funeral got so much more screentime compared to Black Widow’s death.
“Well, Tony does not have another movie. Tony is done. Natasha has another film. The Marvel universe obviously does not have to move forward linearly anymore, but that character still has more screen time coming,” he said.
So while it did feel unfair for the Avengers to seemingly care more about Tony’s death than Natasha’s, the reasoning was less about Avengers: Endgame, and more about the franchise as a whole. Tony is basically the protagonist of Marvel’s first three phases, and Natasha does indeed have another movie on the way—albeit an apparent prequel.
Black Widow’s long-awaited solo movie comes out on May 1, 2020, and covers part of her backstory in the Black Widow program. With Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. leaving the franchise, Thor is the only original Avenger to get a fourth solo movie after his original trilogy.
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H/T Comic Book Movie
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor