The death of Black Widow in Avengers: Endgame has proven to be a controversial scene, to say the least. Co-screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have defended the decision to have Black Widow sacrifice herself instead of Hawkeye, since they got the idea from a female crew member who told them, “Don’t you take this away from her.”
Still, a lot of fans have expressed disappointment in the scene. Iron Man’s death gave us the perfect ending to his character arc, while Black Widow’s death felt like a cheap shock moment that wasted a brilliant character. As these fantastic Black Widow moments from across the MCU prove, she deserved so much better.
10 Tricking Loki
A lot of time in the MCU has been dedicated to showing off Natasha Romanoff’s fighting skills. But she’s proven, time and time again, that she’s actually very intelligent and competent. Sometimes, she also shows off the skills that she acquired over years as an international secret agent.
A prime example of this is the scene in The Avengers in which she tricks Loki. This is Loki, the God of Mischief, otherwise known as “the trickster god.” He doesn’t get tricked by people; people get tricked by him. That’s what makes Black Widow fooling him by pretending to be vulnerable so impressive.
9 Doing battle with Proxima Midnight
In Avengers: Infinity War, we see Black Widow fight Proxima Midnight twice. Proxima Midnight is one of Thanos’ most trusted and powerful foot soldiers, so it was quite an enemy to go up against. The most memorable fight between the two came on the battlefield of Wakanda, where some scores needed to be settled.
It was a great shame that Natasha didn’t survive until the final battle of Endgame, because it would’ve been interesting to see her take on Proxima Midnight again. In fact, it would’ve been fun to see her in the now-iconic “girl power” moment, because she was the MCU’s first female hero.
8 Being abandoned by Bruce
Black Widow and Bruce Banner’s relationship develops a lot over the course of Age of Ultron. They had a romantic subplot. In the big finale, against her better judgment, she pushed Banner down a hole to get him to turn into the Hulk and take on Ultron. But then he got on the Quinjet and abandoned her.
She was left to deal with the guilt of being responsible for getting the Hulk to come out of Banner and refuse to go back in. She had a lot of emotions to process. She was just falling in love with this guy, and now, he’d indefinitely turned into a green monster and disappeared into the depths of outer space. That was tough for her to deal with.
7 Fighting the Winter Soldier
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is all about Cap and his relationship with Bucky. A mysterious assassin named “the Winter Soldier” shows up and Cap realizes it’s his childhood best friend, the man he thought had died over 70 years ago.
Still, Black Widow is a huge part of the movie. She’s sort of Cap’s sidekick in the plot, and she goes through the same personal struggle of realizing the government agency she was working for had lied to her. Plus, she has an incredible fight sequence with the Winter Soldier, just like Cap. They’re a physical match for each other, which keeps it interesting.
6 Calling back to the Budapest mission
The end of Iron Man’s character arc gave us some awesome callbacks to his earlier movies, like his affinity for cheeseburgers and the fact he says, “I’m Iron Man.” But Endgame slipped in an awesome Black Widow callback, too.
In the first Avengers movie, she banters with Hawkeye about their mission to Budapest and how they remember it very differently. The callback came when these characters were traveling through a sub-universe to a distant planet in the past. Hawkeye quipped, “we’re a long way from Budapest,” and Black Widow gave him a knowing smile – as did most of the audience.
5 Aunt Nat
During the Hawkeye/Black Widow scuffle, there’s a lot of talk about Hawkeye’s family. He said, “tell my family I love them,” to which she replied, “tell them yourself” before made the ultimate sacrifice.
As we saw from Avengers: Age of Ultron, Natasha has actually made a very close relationship with everyone in Clint’s family. His kids even call her “Aunt Nat.” This was a small moment, but it helped to deepen her friendship with Clint. The earlier scene in Age of Ultron may have added an emotional layer to the Endgame scene, but the scene failed to live up to that emotion.
4 “Sun’s getting real low...”
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, in addition to being the team’s trusty expert in hand-to-hand combat, Black Widow was given the duty of calming down the Hulk when there was a “Code Green” situation. She was the only one who could do the “Sun’s getting real low...” lullaby just right and get “the other guy” to go away for a while.
The lullaby became an important part of MCU canon, as a couple of other Avengers have attempted to do it when Black Widow isn’t around and none of them can get it just right. She’s no longer around to do it, but now that the Hulk and Banner have made friends, that shouldn’t be a problem.
3 Iron Man 2’s legendary hallway fight
Iron Man 2 has been criticized for a number of different reasons: Whiplash is pointless to the plot, too much time is dedicated to building up the universe etc. But one thing that everyone can agree on is that Black Widow is great in it.
Scarlett Johansson gave us the second Avenger introduced in the MCU (Hulk notwithstanding, because he was between actors at the time) and proved that a big team-up crossover could work. The MCU would later become famous for its hallway fights, with parodies abound, but the hallway fight that started it all involved Black Widow in Iron Man 2.
2 Fighting brainwashed Hawkeye
Black Widow’s death scene in Endgame was intended as the culmination of her close relationship with Hawkeye. In many ways, that does work. We’ve seen these characters make the huge vocational leap from regular espionage to battling alien threats together, and it ultimately ended in a fight to sacrifice themselves to each other for an otherworldly stone that controls the fabric of the universe.
There are many great moments in their relationship, but one that brought out the strengths in each of them was in The Avengers, when Hawkeye was brainwashed and they fought each other. Finally, we could see if they were a physical match for each other. Like the Cap-versus-Bucky fight in The Winter Soldier, there’s an emotional weight to it that complements the action.
1 The chair fight
When we’re reintroduced to Black Widow in The Avengers, she’s been tied to a chair by some criminals and she’s being interrogated. Then she’s told on the phone that a Norse god has stolen S.H.I.E.L.D.’s most mysterious asset. Within seconds, she’s freed herself from the chair and used the broken pieces to beat up the criminals.
It’s viscerally shot, edited, and choreographed. The Avengers had the task of reintroducing us to all the characters we’d met over the course of the last four MCU movies (back then, that was a novelty), but Black Widow’s reintroduction scene was easily the most awesome of the bunch.