WARNING: Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame ahead
One of the most emotional deaths in Avengers: Endgame almost turned out very differently.
Moviegoers were shocked to see Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff meet her sacrificial end in the Marvel epic, given that her standalone movie is reportedly in the works. Endgame writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely told The New York Times that they initially had Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye dying in the scene, but they changed it to Johansson when they realized it was the perfect ending to her character.
“There was, for sure,” McFeely said of the possibility of Renner’s Clint Barton dying instead. “Jen Underdahl, our visual effects producer, read an outline or draft where Hawkeye goes over. And she goes, ‘Don’t you take this away from her.’ I actually get emotional thinking about it.”
“And it was true, it was him taking the hit for her. It was melodramatic to have him die and not get his family back. And it is only right and proper that she’s done,” Markus agreed.
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The scene goes down when Renner and Johansson travel back in time and go to the planet of Vormir in order to retrieve the Soul Stone. Once there, the two are told that one of them must sacrifice their life in order for the other to get the Stone, similar to the way this scene played out in Infinity War with Thanos (Josh Brolin) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana).
This is especially painful for Clint and Natasha, who have been friends much longer than the rest of the Avengers. They both offer to do it, and physically fight each other while trying to run of the cliff. In the end, Natasha beats Clint and ends up at the bottom of the cliff in an emotional scene, with Clint still alive to reunite with his family at the end of the movie.
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“Her journey, in our minds, had come to an end if she could get the Avengers back,” McFeely explained of their decision to kill her character. “She comes from such an abusive, terrible, mind-control background, so when she gets to Vormir and she has a chance to get the family back, that’s a thing she would trade for. The toughest thing for us was we were always worried that people weren’t going to have time to be sad enough. The stakes are still out there and they haven’t solved the problem.”
Avengers: Endgame — also starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo and more — is in theaters now.
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