[Editor’s note: The following post contains spoilers for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.]
“Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” had so much plot to cover that it was inevitable certain story threads from the Marvel Cinematic Universe would have to take a back seat to the fight against Thanos. One such thread was the romance between Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). The two characters got close in 2015’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and their feelings for each other were so strong that Natasha was able to calm down the Hulk’s rage.
The romance between Bruce and Natasha fizzled out after “Age of Ultron,” mainly because Bruce/Hulk went flying into space and teamed up with Chris Hemsworth’s Thor in 2017’s “Thor: Ragnarok.” MCU fans expected Bruce’s return to earth in “Infinity War” and his reunion with Natasha to resurface the fan-favorite storyline, but that never happened because the jam-packed plot of the blockbuster left no room for the romance to get its proper due.
“We certainly tried to,” co-writer Stephen McFeely recently said on the Empire movie podcast. “In ‘Infinity War’ we have scenes — we wrote them, we shot them — of them sort of hashing that out. ‘You’ve been gone, I’ve moved on,’ that kind of stuff. It became very clear that if a scene was not on the ‘A plot,’ it could not survive ‘Infinity War.’ That thing has to be on rails just to get to the finish line. You couldn’t wrap up loose threads just because you wanted to.”
Despite filming scenes that gave the Bruce-Natasha romance a sense of closure, the film opted to cut them so that space could be given to the main storyline of the Avengers’ fight against Thanos. All the Bruce-Natasha romance boils down to in “Infinity War” is a suggestive look the characters give each other when Bruce shows up at Avengers headquarters after his return to earth. The romance is basically an afterthought in “Avengers: Endgame.” Bruce reacts with anger and devastation to Natasha’s death, but so do all of the Avengers. Perhaps Marvel will make these deleted scenes available in the future to give Bruce-Natasha shippers the closure they seek.
“Avengers: Endgame” is now playing in theaters nationwide.