[Editor’s note: The following post contains spoilers about “Avengers: Endgame.”]
Heading into the massive blockbuster success of “Avengers: Endgame,” fans were prepared for some significant losses to the fold. One in particular seems to have hit the hardest, including ruffling some feathers with critics who pointed out the unfortunate patterns repeated with Black Widow’s fate. The character, played by Scarlett Johansson, has been around since “Iron Man 2.” True to form, she goes out in a blaze of glory, sacrificing herself to save Hawkeye and in exchange for the Soul Stone during the time heist.
“To me it’s one of the sadder scenes in the movie because it’s really putting two people in a Sophie’s choice, putting two people in the position where, do you let your friend die or do you die?” director Joe Russo told EW.
The scene has garnered mix reactions from fans and critics alike, with many pointing to a tired comic book trope known as “fridging,” whereby a woman sacrifices herself to save a man or to motivate a male character. Joe Russo said he saw a different reason for the controversial scene.
“The theme of the movie is, can you change your destiny, and what does it cost to do it? And are you willing to pay that cost?” he said. “It’s a resounding yes from the Avengers. In [‘Infinity War’] they said, ‘We don’t trade lives,’ and there was a desire to protect. And in this movie, there’s now a desire to sacrifice in order to accomplish the goal.”
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“I think that that’s a natural progression, right?” he added. “‘Well, the first thing we’re going to do is try to protect everybody.’ And then when you realize it can’t work that way, then true heroes step up and are willing to sacrifice for the greater good.”
Russo traced the character’s progression from villain to hero, and how that struggle for identity has always informed her decisions. He sees this one as no different.
“She’s the watcher on the wall still,” he said. “When she gets to that [Soul Stone] scene, I think she understands that the only way to bring the community back is for her to sacrifice herself.”
Read the full interview at EW.