The Disney+ What If…? animated series has raised a lot of questions throughout its run. During its season 1 finale as well, people asked one important question- did it ruin Black Widow’s death? Writer A.C. Bradley, as well as director Bryan Andrews, doesn’t think so.
Before the twin deaths in Avengers: Endgame, there weren’t any significant deaths in the MCU. Almost every character who died was either a villain or a supporting character. So before, no leading heroes had died.
But it was these two deaths that made the last two Avengers movies hurt so much. Tony Stark and Black Widow’s deaths made the movies impactful. It gave them the weight that they needed. But Natasha Romanoff’s death is a little different from that of Tony Stark’s.
This is because people are still discussing whether someone else should have died in her place or if it was fair that she didn’t get the funeral that Tony Stark got. In the season 1 finale of What If…?, we see one of those questions answered. Well..sort of.
We saw Black Widow get another shot at life in the season finale of What If…? In the episode, Natasha of the world where Ultron won is faced with a choice. At first, she is told to go back to her desolate barren world. But she refuses.
Then the Watcher gives her another option- to take the place of another Black Widow in another universe. Fans will remember that an alternate Black Widow died in episode 3 of What If…? along with the other Avengers.
Many have said that this loophole of the multiverse does lower the stakes of the overall MCU. But the creative team behind What If…? says that Natasha’s story doesn’t really negate what happened in another timeline.
In an interview with Variety after the finale, Andrews and Bradley revealed their thought process behind Black Widow’s new life and explained why the existence of the multiverse doesn’t ruin the stakes of the MCU.
Here’s what they said:
Bradley: When it came to resolving Dystopian Natasha’s story, we realized that keeping her on that Ultron world was a fate worse than death. Everyone’s gone. And the Watcher, as he says to her, these stories have become everything to him. It didn’t come from a place of like, ‘Oh, what are we saying about Marvel and the MCU?’ It came from a place of, ‘What are we saying about the Watcher?’ He loves these characters. He loves these stories, these people, these heroes. He would never banish her back to a planet to basically starve to death by herself. We wanted to put her in a world where she could be the Natasha Romanoff that he has watched in different versions and loves. So that’s where the idea came from. Whether or not that’ll be reflected in the greater MCU? Who knows. They always have plans.
Andrews: When it comes to the challenge of a multiverse, it’s like, ‘Oh, well, this person’s alive in a thousand different ways in different universes,’ and doesn’t that cheapen the stakes? I don’t think so, because you’re only still watching one story at one time, and hopefully we’re doing our job enough where you’re compelled by what these people on the screen are doing at that time, and surprised at what may or may not happen to them. So, if we’re doing our job and engaging the audience, it shouldn’t matter that there could be some other person that’s alive or dead in some other universe. It’s what’s happening right there in the present, right in front of your face — that adventure. And if you can connect in some way, then awesome. Then it’s always gonna work. And you never know what you’re gonna get, which I think is part of the fun, and that was one of the great things about doing the whole series. We can go dark. We can go into comedy. We can really lean into the genre, which was part of the joy.
Fans are not wrong in asking how the multiverse will keep on affecting the stakes of the franchise. We are sure that this will be an ongoing conversation as the MCU explores more of this complicated concept.
In a show like What If…?, it’s way easier to take into consideration all the possibilities of the world. The anthology format allows the show to focus on various universes and play with the characters however they want.
This is why it was possible for Stark to die multiple times, and why now there’s a Black Widow who is living in the place of another. But, the case of the live-action MCU will be much different.
There the impact of the multiverse will be way more long-lasting. So if the main MCU timeline brings in another Black Widow to take the place of the one who died during Avengers: Endgame, that would make the story feel dimmed.
However, that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case. The story could work if the other Black Widow had a compelling story, and the circumstances were well constructed to allow for another Natasha’s entry into the main timeline.
However, as you can guess, things can get messy. But for now, it looks like the MCU will be keeping these universe-altering twists to just the What If…? animated universe.
But when it does get explored in the main MCU timeline, like it’s sure to be done with Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness and Spider-Man: No Way Home, the effects will surely be wide-reaching.
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