Avengers: Endgame Screenwriter Explains Why There Was No Closure On the Bruce/Natasha Romance
This wasn't my favorite MCU ship.
One of the weakest points in Avengers: Age of Ultron is the forced attempt at romance between Natasha Romanoff and Bruce Banner. Between abandoning the previously established Clint/Natasha chemistry (though now that Clint’s a serial killer, maybe we dodged a bullet there), having Natasha say she’s a monster because she was sterilized against her will and can’t have kids, and the general bad writing of it all, it was not a well-received plot point. Now we know why their “relationship” didn’t rise to the surface in Endgame.
When Bruce and Natasha run back into each other in Avengers: Infinity War, they share a meaningful look, but aside from a friendship in Endgame their romance is never explicitly addressed, though that’s not for lack of trying on the parts of the writers.
“In Infinity War we have scenes — we wrote them, we shot them — of them sort of hashing that out,” said co-screenwriter Stephen McFeely said on the Empire movie podcast, as reported by IndieWire. “‘You’ve been gone, I’ve moved on,’ that kind of stuff. It became very clear that if a scene was not on the ‘A plot,’ it could not survive Infinity War. That thing has to be on rails just to get to the finish line. You couldn’t wrap up loose threads just because you wanted to.”
Wrapping up a ten-year saga is difficult, and there was a lot of plot to jam into Infinity War and Endgame. While there are some plot points I wish had been included in the films, the Bruce/Natasha ship is definitely not one of them. We can assume that they spoke between the events of Infinity War and Endgame, and by this point they each have other relationships that matter more to the narratives. Natasha has Clint and Steve, and Bruce has Thor. Those three dynamics are more key to the story of the MCU than Bruce/Natasha ever was.
Besides, while never explicitly addressed, I found Endgame to honor the potential for romance there in a subtle fashion. Following Nat’s death, both Clint and Bruce have the strongest reactions to her demise, and both are the only ones to bring her up after the Snap is undone. Bruce’s story even ends on a very tragic note, with some of his last lines and moments onscreen being centered on wishing he could’ve brought Natasha back.
Bruce and Natasha were never handled well by Joss Whedon, and they didn’t need to be a centerpiece of the final two Avengers movies. While an actual scene of them talking it out might have been nice, it would have slowed the main plot of Infinity War and the first scenes of Endgame down too much. A deleted scene would be nice, but overall, leaving them as an unspoken “what if” almost works just as well. (Of course, our Kaila Hale-Stern disagrees.)
The doomed romance between the two heroes was never going to work out, and was never a fan favorite. In the grand scheme of Avengers related things, it’s probably for the best that they wound up excluding it from the final films and instead put the focus on the more important relationships within the core Avengers cast. It streamlined the narrative and didn’t dredge up the bad writing of Age of Ultron, which is always a net positive.
(via IndieWire, image: Marvel)
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