(I wrote so much about Avengers: Endgame I’m splitting it into a series of posts)
Standardised beginning because I don’t care if the spoiler ban has been officially lifted. I know it’s been two weeks now but this movie is huge, the culmination of ten years, and the last thing I want to do is accidentally spoil anyone.
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!
I’m going to put everything under the cut but in case it doesn’t work for some reason. Seriously don’t read beyond this point if you haven’t seen the movie. Anyway now that’s established let’s dive in 🙂
Speaking of denial
If I had to name my favourite characters, at the top of the list is Tony and Natasha. The fact that both of them bit the dust is sad for me. I knew as soon as they said that Natasha and Clint were going for the soul stone what was going to happen. They didn’t know precisely how Thanos had obtained it, only that he had gone to Vorimir and not returned with Gamora. As far as they knew Gamora just fought Thanos and he killed her, the sacrificing thing wasn’t known. With Clint having a wife and kids there was no way Natasha would let him.
The situation obviously was complicated with Clint having massacred tons of bad guys who survived the snap (although I can totally understand why, it’s the old “why do bad things happen to good people, but bad people escape unscathed”). The issue is of course with Clint having been judge, jury and executioner. Even bad people have families, people that care about them, and I guess look at Natasha for an example. She was a ‘bad guy’ through circumstances and Shield sent Clint to kill her and he made a different call. I’m not doing a Dumbledore and saying that bad guys should be redeemed, I’m just saying I could understand why once the despair and desolation wore off, that Clint would feel guilty and tainted by what he had done.
Anyway, it was always going to be Natasha, and it did make sense because it harkens back to Civil War. She attended Peggy’s funeral and said to Steve that “staying together was more important than how we stay together” because she wanted to keep the team together. The team was Natasha’s family. Even looking at how she appeared in the movies, she was in Iron Man 2, she was in Cap: Winter Soldier – I know that’s out of universe but it underscores how alone Natasha was. Tony had Pepper and Happy and Rhodey etc. Steve had Bucky and Sam. Everyone else had a world they belonged to but Natasha only had Shield and the Avengers. She took on mission control, which was probably Maria’s job pre-Tony firing her and the dusting, because she didn’t have anything else.
In Age of Ultron we clearly see she’s close with Clint’s family, she’s Aunty Nat, they were going to name the third kid after her before they learned it was a boy. The snap took Clint’s family so Nat lost them too, and she also lost her best friend because he was so destroyed at the loss of his family. Honestly this is just one of the many reasons why Thanos is such an idiot. Snapping half the universe just brings pain and more suffering. I keep thinking of all the kids that were maybe left unattended because the snap orphaned them, were they found? were they given homes? Honestly I try not to think about it too much because the implications are just awful.
Anyway, Natasha being the sacrifice for the soul stone was almost inevitable. Her dying was not. A soul for a soul right? If Cap returned to Vormir (and I’m guessing they gave him a shrunk spaceship otherwise how would he have managed that) and threw the stone back down that abyss, if he returned it, then why didn’t they get their deposit back? Instantly after the movie I started wondering this and I thought how perfect it would have been if Bruce hit the switch to bring Steve back, and it was Natasha in his place. The soul stone returned, Natasha was returned. Steve wanted to stay in the past, so he gave Natasha the time travel thing. Natasha being on that platform would have been a hell of a twist and I predict the entire movie theatre would have cheered. Then there would have been the mystery of where’s Cap?
Nat’s history and character-arc
The thing with Natasha is that she, like everyone, was a product of her experiences. Growing up in the Red Room she was brainwashed pretty much into thinking there was nothing but the mission, and then the next mission. The heart-rending “I have no future” line from Age of Ultron just underscores how much her identity as Natasha was stripped away, so that she was just the Black Widow.
I give the movies grief sometimes because they are movies, and therefore are time-limited and can’t show everything I wish they would. However, they do show enough and I make a living practically at filling in the gaps, and Natasha’s character-arc was heartwarming. In my eyes it looked like we saw her evolution, we saw her shed her armor, we saw her struggle with the need to be alone so she would never be hurt or let down/disappointed and then how much she did embrace the found family. I’ve seen it on countless gifsets the “this is my family, its little and broken but still good” and that’s what Nat made for herself.
The events of Cap: Winter Soldier were a real turning point for her. The line “who do you want me to be?” to Cap comes to mind because Nat had survived through being flexible, through showing people what they wanted to see and therefore guarding her heart – if nobody knows the real her, then it’s easier to walk away, it’s easier to accept whatever crap other people give her. In Cap: Winter Soldier I think Nat was shook down to the core over the revelation about Hydra. She’d been trying to build herself up, and she had self-identified as a ‘good guy’ so to speak because she was working for Shield. I don’t think she had much self-worth, I think when Clint was sent to kill her and chose to recruit her instead that Nat was at rock bottom. She had red in her ledger and she would never be clean of that, but Shield believed in her and Shield were the good guys, so maybe she wasn’t all that bad, maybe she could do some good. I think Nat needed Shield, it gave her structure, it gave her an identity as an agent, and then it all came tumbling down.
She admitted “I don’t know whose lies I’m telling anymore” and then she said “blown all my covers, got to make some new ones” and Steve says that might take a while and she says counting on it. Then later Nat says about how she went looking for her parents and found their graves “we have what we have when we have it”. Age of Ultron gets a lot of crap and sometimes I think I’m the only person in the world that a) loved the reveal that Clint had a family and b) could see the character-sense in the Nat/Bruce romance.
I know a lot of people ship Nat and Clint and good for them, ship and let ship, but for me I never saw it. Personally I think such a union would have been too intense. I don’t think its right for someone to be everything to be somebody. I was talking with somebody about this the other day and I said that I thought Nat and Clint were soulmates, they got one another in a way that nobody else did or could, but that they were just friends and that was a good thing. I believe strongly that soulmates don’t have to be romantic, and in fact sometimes due to the intense reason mentioned above, that its better if it’s not.
Plus personally for me I think some characters just aren’t the romance type. They aren’t the kind of person who settles down. A husband and kids was never on the cards for Nat, I think she wanted the ideal of it because the Red Room hurt her, and she was envious of the normal life of others. I guess what I’m saying is that I think the Red Room broke her and that being an agent, fighting the good fight, or running mission control, or just doing something – some people can’t quit, they can’t retire, for some people retirement is worse than death and I think that would have been true for Nat. Clint having a family allowed her to be part of that warm loving environment, a place where she was obviously extremely welcome, but it also allowed her to be her own person.
The thing with Nat and Bruce I think worked on several levels. Firstly Natasha hates being scared of anything, and the Hulk in the Avengers movie scared her badly. By getting close to Bruce she’s directly confronting her fear. Secondly Bruce is also broken and afraid, he’s spent years on the run, a normal life isn’t on the cards, as the hulk he’s done things he’ll never feel clean of even though it wasn’t really his fault as he wasn’t in control. They do have a lot in common. Plus Bruce isn’t a ‘guy, guy’ and by that I mean he’s respectful. The play-flirting at the Avengers party screamed old-school Hepburn. Bruce is a dork and actually I think that makes the romance more serious and more real. I think Natasha knows how to deal with guy guys, she can manipulate them and if she wanted no-strings she’d go for that. With Bruce she was actually letting her armour down, allowing herself to be vulnerable, allowing herself to test the waters of something she wasn’t trained for (as I’m sure they taught seduction in the Red Room).
It was sweet but it was also doomed. I can analyse Bruce another day but basically he would side with Tony in the “isn’t that the point, to end the fight so we can go home” because he did want it to be over. He was a good man who stepped up but the “do you want a piece?” “not really but since when do I get what I want” springs to mind. Whereas Nat needs the fight, being an agent is part of her core now, however sad that might be as she could have been anything pre-Red Room. However, an agent is what she is now and she can’t stop. She had a choice in Age of Ultron and she chose to continue down the path of Avengers, Shield etc. That was when she sealed her fate I guess but I also think she was content with her choice.
Like I said found family. Natasha became more comfortable in her own skin I guess after Age of Ultron. She finally knew who she was and what mattered to her and that was the team, that was the fight she had chosen. Nat’s death in the line of duty was inevitable, if it hadn’t been Vormir for the soul stone then it would have been something else. However that fact doesn’t make it any easier. I will miss her.