The What If…? season finale delivered on its promise of high action while also uniting all of its disparate stories into one climactic narrative. Alternate versions of Marvel Cinematic Universe stalwarts became the Guardians of the Multiverse, defeated Infinite Ultron and saved all of existence. However, without even appearing in the episode, one Avenger was framed as being almost entirely inconsequential to the world’s mightiest heroes.
In What If…?, Black Widow is responsible for delivering the fatal blow to Ultron, which allowed Armin Zola to infect his programming and allowed her fellow Guardians to separate the Infinity Stones from his body. The jaw-dropping method in which she delivers the “kill shot,” however, leaves Hawkeye humbled and shines a light on just how tertiary his skill set is to the Avengers.
Natasha tells Captain Carter that she has a plan. At this point in the What If…? episode, Gamora’s Infinity Crusher has failed and the Watcher’s best-laid schemes are tearing apart faster than a shattered galaxy. The Captain races to her rendezvous with Ultron in the sky while Natasha does the same. Widow maneuvers her motorcycle up and over the debris-strewn remnants of New York City, climbing asphalt rampways as easily as flights of crumbling staircases.
Once she finds the right rooftop at just the right distance to provide herself with just the right angle, she launches the bike into the air. Fixing her eyes on a globe of pure white light with Ultron hovering at its center, Natasha grabs Clint’s bow from its harness on the bike’s flank, draws the bowstring taut to her cheek and lets the arrow fly. At the precise moment, Captain Carter pulls Ultron’s helmet back away from his face to expose his eye and the arrow sinks in, its barbed tip glimmering in jade viral laden code. In all the iterations of Hawkeye in the MCU, there isn’t a shot that comes close in terms of clutch or skill, begging the question, if Natasha is capable of this, what in the world do they need Hawkeye for?
There is no indication given Clint Barton’s background or relevant expertise that he is responsible for machining his high-tech arrow cache. They seem to be engineered by S.H.I.E.L.D weapon smiths early on and maybe Stark Enterprises as the Avengers assemble into the elite squad of world protectors that they eventually become, so it’s not as if his technical ability is what sets him apart. There are moments during the films where Clint’s wife, Natasha, Tony and Hawkeye himself amuse themselves with the charity of his inclusion among such heavy hitters, but this turns something said tongue in cheek into perhaps a real questioning assessment that requires sober reflection.
Heaping insult to injury, the MCU’s next series revolves around Hawkeye and Kate Bishop, an expert archer who, in the comics at least, also goes by the name Hawkeye. Not only do arrow marksmen seem plentiful, but Clint also hasn’t attached enough gravitas to his codename to require Bishop to secure one of her own. The redundancy is almost derisory. During his time as Ronin, he demonstrates that he is a more than capable hand-to-hand combatant, but evidence supports that Natasha has him beat there as well, not to mention her skills as an interrogator, hacker and gatherer of sensitive information. If there was ever any doubt before, What If…? certainly hasn’t done Hawkeye any favors.
To see Black Widow be a better Hawkeye than Hawkeye, What If…? Season 1 is now available to stream on Disney+.
What If’s Finale Is the Black Widow Farewell She Was Denied by the MCU
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