“I’m going to Mordor alone.” | Frodo Baggins
“Of course you are, and I’m coming with you!” | Samwise Gamgee
| The Fellowship of the Ring | Movie Version
Sit tight, lovely humans, this is gonna be a long one but I hope you’ll stick with me to the end 🙂
Before I get distracted by other bits of the film, I’m just going to dive right in to Clint and Natasha’s story-line and try and keep my trademark digressions at a minimum. For me, there were good things and bad things about Avengers: Endgame overall, but my favourite parts, by far, were the interactions between Clint and Natasha as well as their own individual character arcs. That and Captain America catching Mjolnir like the Legend he is 🙂
There will be spoilers but if you haven’t seen Endgame by now, I don’t know how you’re surviving because spoilers flooded the Internet the day after the movie hit theatres….
Mmkay, so while this post won’t be about LOTR, I’ve gotta explain the quotation at the top just a bit so you can better understand why I chose it. If you’re a hard-core LOTR fan, I’m sure you’ve already guessed why but not everyone shares the same enthusiasm for the films or the books so a little explanation is order.
Frodo had taken on a daunting task, traipsing around Middle Earth to throw the Ring of Fire back into the mountain from which it was forged. A band of comrades rallied around him to help on the journey but after many shenanigans and adventures, the Fellowship disbanded, not of their own volition but due to extenuating circumstances, and went their separate ways. After much deliberation, Frodo made the choice to go on alone. In one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in the film, Sam chases after Frodo, crashing through the trees to the shoreline of the river, and wades in after the boat as his best friend begins paddling across to the other side. Now, this all seems good and well, aside from a bit dramatic, except for one rather important fact: Sam can’t swim.
With that, everything changes. Sam was willing to literally die rather than let Frodo go on alone. At that point, Frodo had rowed so far out into the river that Sam’s feet no longer touched the bottom. He began to sink, one hand reaching out towards Frodo….aaaaaand by the time Frodo reached him…..he had drowned.
Just kidding! This story has a much happier ending than Clint and Natasha’s.
By the time Frodo reached Sam, he was able to pull him out and into the boat. With tears and river water streaming down his cheeks, Sam looked Frodo right in the eye and said, “I made a promise, Mr. Frodo, a promise! He [Gandalf] said ‘Don’t you leave him, Samwise Gamgee’ and I don’t mean to! I don’t mean to!” UGH, it gets me every.single.time. Like I’m not even kidding….I cry every.single.time. THAT’S true friendship right there. Running after your friends when they’ve convinced themselves that they don’t need anyone else and that they’re gonna go it alone.
And that brings us to Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff.
Let’s just face it. Natasha Romanoff was not a good person. She’d done some nasty things in her past, nasty things. Clint was better but somehow the two of them forged a friendship that I can’t appreciate enough. One of the things about their relationship that makes my soul all kinds of happy is that it was always platonic, for lack of a better word. “Platonic” kinda makes me uncomfortable and I’m still not really sure why…I just feel like we can come up with a better way of saying that a guy and a girl are friends and no romantic shenanigans are going on whatsoever. Perhaps just saying “friends” and leaving it at that.
Anywho, I digress yet again.
While oodles of lovely humans have theories upon theories that Clint and Natasha have hidden romantic designs for one another, I definitely swing the other way. One, Clint’s a married man with three kids and committing adultery not only doesn’t seem like something he’d do as a character but it’s also a sin. Granted, perhaps one or both of them fell for the other at some point before Clint married Laura…I will say that could be a possibility….but regardless, the Clint and Natasha we know from the Avengers Saga view one another as good, solid friends. And that just brings me joy. Often, movies either have a guy and a girl start off as friends and then fall in love and get married (perfectly normal and lovely), or have one party interested in the other with heart-breaking results (aka good ole unrequited love), orrrr force two characters who work better as friends to develop slapdash feelings for one another and then become a “thing” for the sake of the plot (see Steve and Sharon in Captain America: Civil War……ugh, Sharon……). Seldom does a film or TV show portray a guy and a girl as “just” friends and do it well.
Once again, another phrase I’m not a super fan of….”just friends”. It implies that there’s something wrong with being friends or that it’s sub-par to being romantically involved. Rubbish. Friends are some of the Most High’s greatest gifts to us in this world, whether male or female, and marriage is also another one of the Most High’s greatest gifts to us in this world. Buuuuut holding marriage up higher than friendship has done some pretty damaging things to young people in the Christian community especially…but that’s a post for another time 🙂
So whenever a movie or a TV show depicts a guy/girl friendship that never turns into a romantic relationship and depicts it well, I’m always interested 🙂 Clint and Natasha’s friendship for-sureeee-yes falls into that category. And Steve and Natasha’s friendship is running a close second in my affections 🙂
Mmkay, so on to the first scene between them in Endgame that brought me to tears. Three scenes really killed me overall: this one, another one between them that I’ll talk about later, and the end scene when all of our Legends that we’ve grown up with over the years stood over-looking the lake at Tony’s house. UGH MAN. THAT SCENE. Alllll the nostalgic sentimental feelings rolled into one and it was grand. I’m sure there were other scenes I cried in but I don’t remember at the moment.
So when Natasha found out that Clint was wreaking havoc all over the world trying to make people pay for being alive when his family had been killed, she rushed over to Tokyo to gently wack some sense into his head. Now if that’s not friendship, I dunno what is. She literally jumped on a plane and flew ACROSS the world from NY to Japan to be there for her friend when he was hurting so fiercely that he took to murdering innocent humans.
For 5 years, Natasha had been sitting alone in the giant Avengers compound in upstate NY holding the remnants of the Avengers together by sheer willpower. Everyone had “moved on” except for her (and Steve). Natasha stayed because…well…let’s let her explain it herself…
Oh yeah, that’s the other part that made me cry…when she said this to Steve. When he came to check in on her because that’s what friends do and because she’d once wrapped him in a hug during one of the hardest parts of his life even though they were on different sides of the war at that point and she’d said “I didn’t want you to be alone”. And now, he was returning the favour because she was alone and he didn’t want her to be.
This is growth, lovely humans, this.is.growth. Natasha recognized her darkness and even when the people she loved most, the only family she had because she’d never had anyone but them, even when they scattered and made lives of their own, she never forgot the lessons they’d taught her and she never regressed. She could have become like Clint. She could have started killing people to numb the pain. She could have gone around the world, reconnected with her old KGB contacts, and slipped back into her dark days as a ruthless assassin who didn’t care whom she killed as long as she was compensated for it. But she didn’t. She never gave up. She bloomed where she had been planted despite the hopelessness and the despair. Going back to her past life wasn’t an option ’cause she knew better and she was determined to leave it all behind.
I’ve gotta say I didn’t really hold much love in my heart for Natasha Romanoff until this movie. She was always just “one of the Avengers” to me and whatever affection I had for her was because she was part of the gang. Now my opinion of her has definitely changed for the better. So when she heard about Clint’s shenanigans and showed up in Tokyo, I was surprised but not surprised. She goes after the people she loves because they’re all she’s got.
Clint turned into a monster. I’m just gonna say it because it’s true. He turned into a monster (albeit with a mohawk which was pretty stellar). There’s nothing more terrifying than when a good man turns into a calculated killer because, in the immortal words of Captain Jack Sparrow:
“Me? I’m dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It’s the honest ones you want to watch out for, because you can never predict when they’re going to do something incredibly…stupid.”
Harsh but true. It’s like Thor and Loki’s brother-bond. Loki pretty much always double-crosses Thor and Thor’s come to expect it. Essentially, Thor trusts Loki to be predictably unpredictable. And that’s what Jack meant when he said what he said. Dishonesty is predictable, honesty is not. Sometimes honest people snap and do something dreadfully wicked (look at King David…). If they don’t have the grace of the Most High ruling their hearts and lives, this is much more likely to happen. And even if they are saved, they can still snap, ’cause Christians are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and remaining sin is a dragon that all Christians should be trying to slay with Christ’s help. When a good man rages, it wakes you up in your bones. I have a friend who seldom gets angry but when they do, it’s pretty much always righteous anger and you KNOW whatever made them upset is much more than a petty annoyance.
That was Clint Barton in Endgame. He lost his family, the one thing he told the Avengers that he never wanted to lose or see compromised. He’d hidden them away on a farm (cue all the jokes about Clint and his farm :P) and he hadn’t even told his bros about them until the gang needed a safe house in Age of Ultron. Even then, they pretty much had to swear to secrecy about Laura and the kids. So when Thanos snapped his fingers, half the population disappeared, and Clint’s family was among them, well, you see why The Hawk wasn’t a happy man. Revenge killing wasn’t the answer and I’m not condoning his horrific actions in the slightest. Murdering people simply out of anger for their existence is one of THE most selfishly wicked things a person could do. And that’s exactly what Clint did. He killed people because they were alive and his family wasn’t. He became his own personal vendetta-man and literally travelled the world on his sadistic mission in the 5 years between The Snap and when the Avengers reunited.
Knowing all of this, do you see why Natasha’s actions are so insanely mind-blowing? When everyone else would have abandoned Clint to his blind-rage killing spree, Natasha cried for him. She literally wept. Rhodey came on during a video conference call of sorts and informed her of Clint’s behaviour and she held it together until the call ended and then she broke down. And THAT’S when Steve walked in with the Smile of a Good Man on his face 🙂
But yeah, she wept with sadness over the pain her friend was going through. The intense pain of losing everything and everyone he held dear. And she wept because it was killing him and he wasn’t channeling it properly. Natasha’s heart was so large and open that she had the courage, strength, and love to weep for a man who was once a good man but had given in to the darkness of pain and anger. I think she cried too because she saw herself in Clint. Clint had become who she used to be. She knew his pain because it was also her own but she also knew he needed to snap out of it and she was probably the only one who could bring him home because she was the only one he’d trust enough to listen to.
And that’s why I cried when she cried. Sometimes things and people and situations in movies just hit you so close to home that the tears roll down your cheeks in an over-packed theatre where you have to stand with your sister against the wall ’cause people for-sure-yes sneaked in without paying…….
When the Avengers were about to assemble one.last.time., Natasha found Clint standing in the rain over the body of his latest kill in a deserted street in Tokyo. She had some words with him and he had some words with her but the most heart-wrenching words for me were when Natasha told him there was a way to bring every back from The Snap and Clint half-turned his head, looked her dead in the eye, and said “Don’t give me hope”.
Those are the words of a man who has reached the end. A man who is so far gone that the word “hope” tastes bitter in his mouth because it’s something he doesn’t want. Hope can destroy you. At least with certainty, there’s closure but hope, hope will eat you alive if you spend most of your waking moments thinking about that thing you want but don’t have…yet. Hope in its rightful place is one of the most powerful forces in this world. It keeps people from despair and it pushes them to achieve their dreams and goals. But when placed on pedestal in the place of the Most High God, hope will kill you because you’re looking to it to save you and idols don’t save. Only Jesus saves.
I honestly wish I could remember all of what was said in that scene but I can’t and Endgame clips haven’t hit YouTube yet so I don’t have a reference point other than my own memory aaaaaaaand this lovely image:
Mmkay, because this post is rambling on to Infinity, let’s take a little trip to Vormir and end it.
Vormir is the second scene with Clint and Natasha where I cried. It was just so unexpected and it shocked me. I had been prepared for certain people to die but this death caught me COMPLETELY off-guard.
In order to carry the Soul Stone off the planet Vormir, you have to pay a steep price. It’s an exchange. A soul for a soul. A human soul for the Soul Stone itself. Twisted but that’s how it is sometimes…… The Avengers need all 6 Infinity Stones to defeat Thanos and the Soul Stone is one of them. While the rest of the band split up and time-travelled to find the other 5 Stones, Clint and Natasha were tasked with getting this particular stone off Vormir. Neither of them knew what would be required. When they realized what the price was, each of them wanted to die. Normally in movies, situations like this bring out the worst in people. Selfishness and self-preservation take over and you naturally want the other person to die so you can live.
Not so with Clint and Natasha. They fought one another to stop each other from jumping off the thousands-of-feet-high cliff to a rocky death below. They fought one another. First, they looked at each other and Clint said “well, I think we both know who it’s gotta be.” And Natasha nodded and replied, “yeah, I think we do.” Clint knew her so well that he noticed the odd look in her eye and an equally odd look entered his own. He narrowed his eyes and said, “I’m starting to think we mean different people here…Nat?”
He knew. He knew she was going to sacrifice herself and he did everything in his power to stop her. He wanted to be the one to die because he thought he didn’t deserve to live after everything he’d done….and he was right. Even though I love Hawkeye, his crimes merited death. You can’t just murder fellow Image-Bearers of the Most High and get off scotch-free. But he paid for it. Although he didn’t die himself, he paid for his crimes by living with the knowledge that Natasha had let go of his hand on the edge of the cliff and fallen to her death below so he could be reunited with his family. That knowledge would give him some serious PTSD, yeah, but it would also remind him of the severity of his own crimes. So yeah, I think he paid for all those innocent lives he took.
Natasha ran to the cliff’s edge and jumped off. Clint jumped after her and caught her around the waist as the both fell together. He shot an arrow which morphed into a cable that grabbed hold of a rock projection, stopping the pair from falling. And with tears in his eyes, he held onto Natasha’s hand as she slipped further and further away. “Let me go,” Natasha half-whispered, “Let me go.” Clint pleaded with her as his voice cracked with emotion, “No, no, please…” With an “It’s okay, ” Natasha Romanoff let go and sacrificed herself so that her family, her boys could live.
And I lost it.
I also lost it when the guys all returned from time-travelling and Steve’s first words were “Clint, where’s Nat?” The silence was soooooo palpable and then all five of Natasha’s self-made brothers (I know Bruce Banner was a love interest but humour me…..) wept and threw things and yelled and did all those things guys do in movies when they’re sad and angry at the same time. Their emotions went right through me ’cause I’m a sucker for big brother-type relationships in movies or books.
I was upset but I was soooooo thrilled with Marvel for killing off a character in such a fitting fashion. Clint and Natasha. Hawkeye and Black Widow. They have my heart and soul. For any fellow-writers reading this, I’d say that their friendship is a good example of what we should be trying to do in our fiction if we’re writing guy/girl friendships. Give them substance but don’t slip into the trap of having them always fall for each other romantically.
So if you’ve stuck with me to the end of this giant monster blog post, thank you. I truly hope it’s been worth your while. Take heart in your friendships, lovely humans. Have the hard conversations, hit people with the Truth (in love) when it’s needed, and if the Most High has called you to love a friend till the end of the line, love on.
| We’re in a War, my friends, and we all need Courage on the Front Lines ❤ |