*Warning: Avengers: Endgame spoilers ahead!*
Avengers: Endgame marked the end of many stories within the vast Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the death of one particular character had many fans crying foul after the movie concluded.
Though the movie's most dramatic death was given to Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man, Natasha Romanov, the only female in the original Avengers, also paid the ultimate price to defeat Thanos and save the world.
She and Clint Barton (Hawkeye) travelled back in time to 2014 to retrieve the soul stone from Vormir. Fans were on the edge of their seats, as they knew the price for the soul stone was another soul.
We all saw Thanos sadly killing Gamora, the only person he ever loved, and knew Black Widow and Hawkeye would have to pay the same price.
However, the two Avengers themselves didn't know this until they arrived on Vormir.
After a heartbreaking showdown, with both heroes trying to sacrifice themselves for the stone, Black Widow gained the edge and threw herself to her death, leaving Clint with the precious infinity stone.
Director Joe Russo told Entertainment Weekly:
"It's a fight to see who's going to kill themselves. It's a crazy concept for a scene. And as you've seen in The Avengers, she's a better fighter than he is. So when it comes down to a fight between the two of them, she wins."
Many have accused the film of "fridging" Natasha, a term from comic book culture used to describe when a female character is killed off to motivate or effect a male character.
Syfy's Preeti Chhibber commented:
"Black Widow is one of the MCU's strongest female characters, the only one we've had since nearly the beginning. To kill her off halfway into the movie felt like another misuse of a character who was just coming into their own as a leader."
Rosie Knight of Esquire similarly noted:
"...it's hard not to interpret that the character felt Clint had more reason to live thanks to his [kids], whereas she felt her life was somehow worth less because she thought she'd never have one. Natasha Romanoff was a strong character who deserved better than that reductive thinking."
After Deadpool 2 received heavy criticism for "fridging" upon release, directors Joe and Anthony Russo were ready to respond to the accusations when the movie premiered.
They described their thought process to EW:
"We open the movie on [Hawkeye's] family. She reminds him of it in the scene. They both may have the mission in that moment where, 'I'm not going to let you kill yourself,' but Hawkeye has mixed agendas there, which I feel takes the edge off his focus in a way that she doesn't."
"To me it's one of the sadder scenes in the movie because it's really putting two people in a Sophie's choice, putting two people in the position where, do you let your friend die or do you die?"
"The theme of the movie is, can you change your destiny, and what does it cost to do it? And are you willing to pay that cost?"
Still, it's hard not to notice how much more pomp and circumstance the late Tony Stark received compared to Natasha.
Only time will tell what Natasha's death in Endgame means for the upcoming Black Widow movie.
Will Romanov manage to cheat death one more time?