MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR ENDGAME BELOW!
Avengers: Endgame truly is a bittersweet experience as it gives us incredible moments of triumph and victory along with loss and pain. Among the things we lost were the lives of two of the original Avengers; Iron Man and Black Widow. The masterminds behind the film, the Russo brothers and screenwriters Markus and McFeely, recently dished on some of the decision-making processes that led to the demise of said beloved characters.
When asked about Natasha’s incredibly heroic but tragic fate in Vormir came to be, the screenwriting duo revealed a version they had where Clint takes the fall for Nat that was vetoed by one of their producers.
McFeely: Jen Underdahl, our visual effects producer, read an outline or draft where Hawkeye goes over. And she goes, “Don’t you take this away from her.” I actually get emotional thinking about it.
Markus: And it was true, it was him taking the hit for her. It was melodramatic to have him die and not get his family back. And it is only right and proper that she’s done.
McFeely: Her journey, in our minds, had come to an end if she could get the Avengers back. She comes from such an abusive, terrible, mind-control background, so when she gets to Vormir and she has a chance to get the family back, that’s a thing she would trade for. The toughest thing for us was we were always worried that people weren’t going to have time to be sad enough. The stakes are still out there and they haven’t solved the problem. But we lost a big character — a female character — how do we honor it? We have this male lens and it’s a lot of guys being sad that a woman died.
There’s also a portion of the fandom wondering why Natasha didn’t get the emotional dramatic funeral send-off Tony had at the end of the film. The screenwriters’ answer to this question is one that I don’t necessarily agree with.
Markus: Tony gets a funeral. Natasha doesn’t. That’s partly because Tony’s this massive public figure and she’s been a cipher the whole time. It wasn’t necessarily honest to the character to give her a funeral.
On the topic of Tony’s death, director Joe Russo was speaking at a fan Q&A in China (via translation) about their decision to have Tony do the film’s final snap, resulting in his emotional death.
Thor in this movie couldn’t do it, only Hulk was strong enough to do the snap without dying. We are still not sure whether Captain Marvel can also withstand all the power of Infinity Stones at once. The reason we choose to let Iron Man do it in the end was because he was the closest one to Thanos at the time. In all the futures Doctor Strange foresee, Iron Man was the only one who could get close to Thanos and do the snap. People usually think the death of a hero is a horrible tragedy. But we think this is different. When his death was able to bring back hope, to save half of the universe, then his death was powerful and meaningful. We shouldn’t feel too sad or angry about it.
The screenwriters further iterated that the decision to kill Tony wasn’t a studio mandate but a creative decision to come full circle from where the MCU started.
Markus: I don’t think there were any mandates. If we had a good reason to not do it, certainly people would have entertained it. In a way, he has been the mirror of Steve Rogers the entire time. Steve is moving toward some sort of enlightened self-interest, and Tony’s moving to selflessness. They both get to their endpoints.