When it comes to superhero stories, no one’s ever really dead forever. But in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with its complex multi-movie contracts, some characters (and the actors who play them) may really be gone forever. Avengers: Endgame features its fair share of major farewells, but is it possible that one of those deaths may not be permanent?
Hulk-sized spoilers for Avengers: Endgame below.
As you hopefully know by now, Black Widow (aka Natasha Romanoff) dies midway through Avengers: Endgame after sacrificing her life to retrieve the Soul Stone. This has some fans complaining that Scarlett Johansson’s character didn’t get a decent send-off (no funeral for Natasha?) and others wondering how that rumored-but-basically-confirmed Black Widow standalone movie can still happen.
The obvious answer is that Scarlett Johansson’s character is getting a prequel, an origin story for the KGB agent turned super spy. But maybe, just maybe, there’s a way for Marvel to undo the death and give Black Widow the goodbye she really deserves.
That’s what a new fan theory from redditor u/RockmanMike argues. It begins by noting that, when Captain America travels back in time to return all the Infinity Stones at the end of Endgame, the Soul Stone represents a singular problem. Most of the stones can simply be returned from wherever they came, but how do you return a mystical stone that materializes out of nowhere only after a human sacrifice has been made?
u/RockmanMike has two solutions. The first? Cap travels back in time to just before Black Widow sacrifices herself and stops her, thereby creating a timeline where they never got the Soul Stone at all. That might work, but it also breaks the time travel logic of Avengers: Endgame. (If Black Widow never dies, how do they get the stone in the first place?) I know I’m not supposed to overthink this timey wimey stuff, but I still don’t love it.
Thankfully, u/RockmanMike’s second solution is a lot better.
“The only other way that it could have been returned, was if Steve Rogers bargained with Death with the exchange of the soul that was offered (Black Widow).”
This one makes a lot more sense, both from a narrative perspective and within the movie’s own logic. If the only way to get the Soul Stone is by sacrificing a life, then bringing the stone back might bring that person back to life. Clearly, the Soul Stone plays by its own rules (Professor Hulk says he tried to use the Infinity Gauntlet to bring back Natasha but wasn’t able to). So maybe this could work.
Bringing Black Widow back to life would also set up a much more interesting standalone movie than a boring old origin story we already mostly know. Imagine a scenario where Natasha Romanoff suddenly pops out of the Soul Stone before setting off a bold new (possibly intergalactic) journey to be explored in her standalone movie.
It’s still a stretch, but at least it’s an interesting one.
Avengers: Endgame is in theaters now.