An Avengers: Endgame deleted scene reveals an alternate version of Black Widow's death - and it's worse than the theatrical cut. The moment Hawkeye and Black Widow headed off to Vormir in Avengers: Endgame, viewers knew that one of them wouldn't make it out alive. In order to acquire the Soul Stone, you have to sacrifice someone you love - and the close, almost familial, bond between Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff meant either would be heartbroken to lose the other.
To Marvel's surprise, the death of Black Widow proved to be one of their most controversial decisions. The character has always been poorly served by the MCU, with writers failing to give her a consistent arc, and the death scene was frankly uninspired. It all rested upon a sparring match between Hawkeye and Black Widow, nothing audiences hadn't seen before, and the outcome felt arbitrary. Marvel has been forced to defend Black Widow's death, with scriptwriter Christopher Markus insisting it's the natural evolution of her character. And now, Marvel Studios has released a number of deleted and alternate scenes in order to celebrate the launch of Disney+, one of which is actually an alternate version of Vormir and Black Widow's death.
The Avengers: Endgame deleted scene starts the same way as the theatrical version, building towards the final fight between Hawkeye and Black Widow. However, it takes an unexpected turn when Thanos' forces arrive. Clint and Natasha are pinned down by landing parties - probably Chitauri, although it's unclear because the actors are in MoCap suits and the CGI is unfinished. Black Widow chooses to preempt a counter-strike, instead rushing towards the cliff-edge in order to sacrifice herself. She takes heavy fire, and as the scene comes to a climax, she's already fatally wounded. Hawkeye attempts to rescue Natasha, but he's unsuccessful, and she dives off the edge. There's the usual flare of light around Hawkeye associated with the granting of the Soul Stone - but in this case, it's perfectly timed, because the experience rescues Clint from Thanos, who's just arrived on the scene in person.
It's worth noting that, in narrative terms, this works more effectively than the final theatrical cut. The Thanos of 2014 first learned what the Avengers were up to when his version of Nebula proved able to access the cybernetic memory relays of her time-traveling future self. When the heroic Nebula realized what was going on, her first instinct was to transmit a message to Hawkeye and Black Widow, warning them that Thanos was coming; this act led to her being captured. The transmission didn't get through; presumably it was blocked by Thanos. But in the final film, the act of self-sacrificial heroism was meaningless, because Thanos never bothered to go to Vormir anyway. In this cut, had Nebula's warning got through, the two Avengers would have known what was about to happen.
This cut may make sense, but it sadly doesn't mean the alternate version is better than the original. It's poorly-paced and poorly-acted, not to mention over-dependent on slow-motion to create a sense of drama. The Chitauri suffer from a form of "Stormtrooper syndrome", with far too many shots going wild in order to emphasize the ones that actually hit. While these problems could conceivably have been fixed in editing, unfortunately, the dialogue is even worse. The lack of reflection means the scene packs far less of an emotional punch, rather than more. All in all, quite surprisingly, after watching this deleted scene, it's clear why Marvel chose to reshoot it for a different version of Black Widow's death in Avengers: Endgame.