Contains spoilers for Black Widow and Avengers: Endgame.
Spoiler alert: Natasha is no more.
Avengers: Endgame saw Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) sacrifice herself at Vormir to obtain the Soul Stone, helping to undo the Thanos snap which saw 50% of the universe disintegrate. It was a noble act, and a choice on Nat’s behalf – she and Clint Barton fight, not to sacrifice each other, but to be the one to die, and ultimately Natasha wins. We might not like it, but hey, at least it was Nat’s will. But surely Nat could have had a funeral – after all, Tony Stark did, right?
Well, actually, post Black Widow, maybe not. Because no funeral that Endgame would have been able to show would have lived up to the one we can now imagine, knowing what we know after Natasha’s standalone. Nat’s funeral wouldn’t have been a respectful private gathering, it would have been an international event. Nat may be gone, and she may never have known her biological family, but what Black Widow really hammers home is that her found family and her sphere of influence was massive.
In Black Widow we learn more about Nat’s history – ripped from her family at a very young age and pushed into the Widow programme, we learn that her biological mother searched for her relentlessly but was executed by Dreykov. For years Nat had no contact with the surrogate parents Melina and Alexei who took care of her for three years or her surrogate younger sister Yelena, believing the Red Room programme to be over, Dreykov to be dead and Yelena living a normal life somewhere. Turns out that’s not so, but by the end of the film Natasha and her fake family have killed Dreykov, destroyed the Red Room, freed and deprogrammed the Widows and even released Dreykov’s daughter Antonia from her captivity as Taskmaster. Nat acknowledges that Alexei, Melina and Yelena are her family as much as the Avengers.
If we’d seen a funeral for Nat in Endgame and these characters hadn’t been there, it would have been wrong (and obviously if we’d seen a funeral and they had been there, that would have been a weird spoiler). It would have diluted the emotional impact of the end of Black Widow – these are people who genuinely cared for Nat.
There is no way Yelena would have missed her sister’s funeral. The headstone she visits at the end says ‘Daughter, Sister, Avenger’ in official acknowledgement of Natasha and Yelena’s bond. ‘Daughter’ acknowledges too, not just the mother who searched for her lost daughter but also her some-time mother and father Melina and Alexei. They would have both been there.
Then there’s the Widows. Given the part she played in finally bringing an end to the Red Room and the Widows programme, the freed ex-Widows would absolutely have turned out in force. Nat would be a hero to them. They wouldn’t abandon one of their own, just as they wouldn’t leave Yelena, or Antonia behind at the end of the movie.
And that’s before we get on to all the remaining Avengers of different shapes and sizes, all of whom would have wanted to honor their fallen teammate.
At the start of Black Widow Nat tells Mason she’s better off alone. By the end of the film we see what a massive impact she has had on so many people’s lives. A half-arsed funeral with a few Avengers just wouldn’t do for Nat. This very private person would surely have had nothing less than a state-level gathering. We’ll just have to imagine the scale of it.
No funeral for Nat then, but instead in Black Widow Nat has time to get her affairs in order. She’s mending the bridges she has burned and atoning for past acts ahead of the most catastrophic event in the history of the universe and the biggest and most important fight of her life. No funeral, but a tribute to Natasha as a character, nonetheless.
Black Widow is available to stream on Disney+