‘Black Widow’ Character Legacy and Ending, Explained


Marvel’s long-awaited Black Widow, the cinematic swan song for Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), ends on a bittersweet note and a character send-off that was long overdue. Set right after the events of Captain America: Civil War, which precipitated a divide amid the Avengers and prompted Romanoff to be on the run from Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt), Black Widow plunges into Natasha’s childhood and how she managed to cling on to her heart, despite the cruelties surrounding her. While Black Widow is not as definitive as Avengers: Endgame, the film enriches Natasha’s inner life and legacy whilst offering a glimpse into the circumstances that shaped her. 

Black Widow brings the concept of found family to life, especially through the character of Yelena (Florence Pugh), who used to be a deadly assassin as a part of the Widow program in Dreykov’s Red Room. Once free from years of chemically-induced control and manipulation, Yelena is faced with the dilemma of free will – and the myriad ways in which she can choose to unravel her newly-found freedom. Yelena’s relationship with Natasha is complex, to say the least, as the two have a shared history of familial bond and trauma, despite the fact that they are intrinsically dissimilar in terms of the lives they lead as a whole. However, how this bond blossom is perhaps the most beautiful aspect of Black Widow, as it fleshes out Natasha’s character in more nuanced and layered ways. 

The Demolition of the Red Room and The Reclamation of the Term ‘Widow’ 

After being reunited, Natasha and Yelena vow to bring down Dreykov’s heinous operation, which essentially preys upon millions of vulnerable girls across the globe and turns them into discardable killing machines. As the location of the Red Room remains hidden, the duo decides to break Alexei (David Harbour), or the Red Guardian, out of prison, who steers them towards Melina (Rachel Weisz). However, Dreykov’s goons soon find them and take them to the Red Room, which is a literal fortress hidden high up in the sky. A series of twists, machinations, and revelations ensue, with Natasha at loggerheads with Dreykov, who also happens to be the man who killed her biological mother. Eventually, Yelena can deprogram the current batch of Widows and provide them to live their lives as they please. 

Before blowing up the Red Room, Natasha manages to extract key intel regarding the countless Widows worldwide. She passes it on to Yelena for her to continue the mission of emancipation. This, of course, leads to a reclamation of the term Widow, which goes from symbolizing mindless killing machines to empowered, emancipated women with a purpose of their own, which is also reflected in the fate of the Taskmaster, who is essentially Antonia Dreykov. The final scenes between Natasha and Antonia remain seminal for various reasons. Firstly, it helps establish the abject cruelty of Dreykov, who views all women, including his own daughter, as commodities meant for fueling his own fragile ego. Secondly, Antonia’s forgiveness is crucial for Natasha’s journey. She is a part of the “red ledger” that weighed upon her conscience all her life.

Yelena’s Jacket As A Token of Love & Its Importance in Avengers: Infinity War 

A seminal easter egg in Black Widow is the outfit that Natasha wears in Infinity War, which is revealed to be originally Yelena’s, who gives it to her sister before parting ways. This jacket, however, is more than a piece of clothing. For Yelena, the versatile, multi-pocketed jacket was the first thing she bought out of her own free will after been emancipated from the control of the Red Room. This not only sets up the jacket as a token of love and sisterhood but also a marker of identity and self-expression. 

Yelena’s decision to pass it on to Natasha is extremely symbolic, as it denotes that after the events of Black Widow, Natasha can find her own identity, one that is no longer tied to the murky Dreykov. While Natasha finds family and acceptance among the Avengers, her bond with Yelena, Alexei, and Melina helps ground her on an emotional level like no other. In hindsight, Natasha’s death in Endgame is imbued with greater gravity and pathos, painting her as a character with unending bravery and a heart brimming with love. 

Natasha’s Memorial In The Post-Credits Scene & What It Means 

While Black Widow does give Natasha an elaborate send-off, as opposed to Tony Stark’s funeral in Endgame, her death is acknowledged in a respectful and emotionally driven manner. We see Yelena approaching Natasha’s grave, visibly shaken, resting her forehead against the gravestone in a gesture of love and endearment. The poignancy of this moment is somewhat undermined by the arrival of Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who sets Yelena on her next mission: to assassinate the man responsible for Natasha’s death, Clint Barton or Hawkeye. This, of course, paves the path for the events of the upcoming Disney+ miniseries, Hawkeye, allowing Yelena to take a more prominent role among the Dark Avengers.

Black Widow is a 2021 Superhero Film based on the character of Marvel Comics. The film is written by Eric Pearson and directed by Cate Shortland.

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Debopriyaa Dutta
Debopriyaa Dutta
I am a Features Writer/Film Critic at ScreenRant and a frequent contributor to High On Films. I oscillate between extremes, having a tender spot for cinematic pieces that act as an intersection between hope and hell.

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