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"It was supposed to be me. Sacrificed her life for that goddamned stone, she put her life on it."
"She's not coming back. We have to make it worth it. We have to."
Clint Barton and Bruce Banner[src]

The Sacrifice of Natasha Romanoff was the ultimate step that was required in order for the Avengers to obtain the Soul Stone. When Red Skull informed Black Widow and Hawkeye that they must sacrifice something that they love, the two fought over which would be the one to die, each wanting themselves to be the one, resulting in Romanoff tricking Barton, then sacrificing herself.

Background

"Thanos found the Soul Stone on Vormir."
"What is Vormir?"
"A dominion of death. At the very center of Celestial existence. It's where... Thanos murdered my sister."
Nebula and Natasha Romanoff[src]

The Snap perpetrated by Thanos heavily affected the Avengers and their allies who had thrown everything they could in the battle to put an end to Thanos' threat. Among them, due to Captain America and Iron Man taking a few steps back from the team, Black Widow attempted to coordinate the remaining Avengers in keeping safety to the world, hoping to find a way to reverse Thanos' actions. However, she also had to deal with the case of Hawkeye who, having lost his wife and his three children, engaged in a ferocious crusade to eliminate the criminals who had been spared by the randomness of the Snap. In the end, both Black Widow and Hawkeye knew that their efforts only had limited effects.

A glimpse of hope appeared, however, when Tony Stark, based on a idea by Scott Lang, elaborated a Time-Space GPS which could enable the Avengers to get back into the past, collect the six Infinity Stones and resurrect the victims of the Snap. Following a successful trial by Hawkeye, who had been convinced by Black Widow to return, the Avengers decided to form groups and head into different times and places to find the Stones. Black Widow and Hawkeye where therefore tasked with going to Vormir, where Thanos had previously obtained the Soul Stone by sacrificing Gamora.[3]

Sacrifice

Black Widow and Hawkeye learn the price

"Last five years I've been trying to do everything to get to here, it's all it's been about, bringing everybody back."
Black Widow to Hawkeye[src]

Arriving on Vormir, Black Widow and Hawkeye were greeted by Red Skull, who stated their parents' names, which surprised Black Widow since even she did not know the name of her father. Black Widow and Hawkeye were then told by Red Skull that they had to sacrifice a loved one to obtain the Soul Stone, causing Black Widow to understand why Thanos had left Vormir without Gamora as he had sacrificed her. Black Widow and Hawkeye thus agreed that one of them had to die, as they had promised to do whatever it would take to succeed in the Time Heist.

Black Widow and Hawkeye embrace

However, as they tearfully said their farewell, Black Widow and Hawkeye realized that they were both ready to give their life. Black Widow insisted that everything she had done in the past five years was to find a way to restore the victims of the Snap, and that she should be the one to sacrifice herself to achieve this goal, but Hawkeye countered by recalling that he had become a vengeful vigilante, with the sacrifice being his one chance to redeem himself and bring back his family. However, Black Widow refused to let her friend die, stating that she would not judge him on his worst mistakes just like he had not when encountering her years ago.

Black Widow and Hawkeye jump off the cliff

Pretending to let Black Widow give her life, Hawkeye suddenly tripped her and pinned her on the ground, asking Black Widow to tell his family that he loved them. However, Black Widow retaliated and immobilized Hawkeye on the ground with her electroshock weapon. She then ran to the cliff to jump, but Hawkeye knocked her aside by shooting an explosive arrow next to her. Hawkeye then rushed to the cliff and jumped, only to be caught by Black Widow who had leaped after him. Black Widow then used Hawkeye's own grappling arrow to secure him to the cliff while she hanged in the air, only held back by Hawkeye's hand. Although Hawkeye refused to let her go, Black Widow pushed herself back with a kick on a cliff and plummeted to the ground, falling to her death just like Gamora had.[3]

Aftermath

Avengers' Reaction

Hawkeye manages to obtain the Soul Stone

"You always had to win, didn't you? And for a stupid orange rock. I replayed that a million times in my head hoping for a different outcome. But I do my best every day to earn what you gave me."
Clint Barton[src]

Clint Barton suddenly woke up in one of Vormir’s pool with the Soul Stone in his hand. Barton mourned over Natasha Romanoff's death before using his remaining Pym Particles to travel the Quantum Realm to the main universe. Reuniting at the Avengers Compound, the other Avengers asked Barton where Romanoff was, but he couldn’t answer and fell to his knees. Following this, the original Avengers went outside the Compound and mourned Romanoff by the lake. Thor suggested that they could use the Infinity Stones they had collected, but Barton told them she couldn’t come back. Steve Rogers cried silently, while Tony Stark asked if she had family. Rogers replied they were her family. Bruce Banner was also devastated by the loss of Romanoff and threw a bench into the lake. He and Rogers then stated that they had to make her sacrifice worth it.

The Stone was then placed into the Nano Gauntlet along with the other Stones gathered by the Avengers. This eventually resulted in the Blip which successfully brought back everyone who had fallen to the Snap, thus fulfilling Romanoff's wish to do her part to save the world from Thanos' actions.

About a week later, Barton told Wanda Maximoff that he wished there was a way to let Romanoff know that they had won. She assured him that Romanoff most certainly knew it, just like Vision who had also perished because of the recent events. Elsewhere, Banner also confessed to Rogers that he had tried to bring Romanoff back when performing the Blip, but that he had failed.[3]

Barton then suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from the incident, and would recall Romanoff's death before going to sleep,[4] while also imagining different outcomes where she would survive instead of him. Due to Romanoff's decision to sacrifice herself in order to allow Barton to live, Barton attempted to live the rest of his days trying to earn the second chance at life that she had given him.[5]

Returning to Vormir

Steve Rogers takes the Infinity Stones back

"Remember, you have to return the stones at the exact moment you got them. Or you're gonna open up a bunch of nasty alternative realities."
"Don't worry, Bruce. Clip all the branches."
Hulk and Captain America[src]

A week after the Blip, the Soul Stone was placed in a suitcase and given to Steve Rogers, who traveled back through the Quantum Realm to the alternate 2014 to return the Soul Stone on Vormir.[3] On Vormir, Rogers encountered Red Skull, although he merely relinquished the Infinity Stone to his old foe without any altercation. Therefore, Red Skull had to remain on Vormir to guard the Soul Stone again.[6]

Remembered

Natasha Romanoff's tombstone

"My sister saved the world. Natasha Romanoff, she saved the world."
Yelena Belova[src]

Although her body was irretrievably lost in another timeline, Natasha Romanoff was given a tombstone in a graveyard in Ohio. Romanoff's adoptive sister Yelena Belova would constantly visit the grave to pay her respects, reorganizing the flowers that had been placed there.[7] The public were informed that Romanoff had died trying to bring about the Blip, although they were unaware of the exact circumstances.[4] The students at Midtown School of Science and Technology payed tribute to Romanoff by showcasing pictures of her in a memorial slideshow.[8] while memorial artwork for Romanoff was presented at the first annual New Jersey AvengerCon.[9]

Hunting Clint Barton

"So she died because you let her."
"I fought for it. But she was better than me."
"You should've fought harder."
Yelena Belova and Clint Barton[src]

Yelena Belova was eventually approached by Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, who informed Belova that Clint Barton was the man responsible for Romanoff's death, and offered Belova the chance to eliminate him to exact vengeance.[7] Following this, in December 2024, Belova tracked Barton down in New York City and ambushed him on an apartment rooftop. However, she was forced to flee upon learning he wasn't alone as Kate Bishop was his new partner.[4]

Two days later, Belova attacked Barton again on the ice rink at Rockefeller Center. As Barton held his own against her, he told her that Romanoff had sacrificed herself and that if he told her what happened, she wouldn't believe him. She didn't believe him nonetheless and continued to fight him. As she prepared to shoot him point blank, he whistled the same tune that she and Romanoff did. This stopped her and caused her to become emotional, asking how he knew that, and finally beloved that he was extremely close friends with Romanoff. Barton told her that they had to learn how to keep living and Belova agreed, extending her hand to help him up, realising they shared mutual grief. She then shared glances with Barton, before walking away.[10]

Appearances

Trivia

References

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