*Big-time Avengers: Endgame spoilers below*
While guesting on Slate's The Gist podcast, Avengers: Endgame co-director Joe Russo explained an alternate route the filmmakers considered for Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff's storyline, instead of the direction that ultimately made it to screens.
As you know if you've gone to the theater over the past couple weeks, Nat sacrifices herself to help ensure Thanos' snap of the Infinity Gauntlet can be reversed. In the version the Russo brothers and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely ended up going with, Widow was a leader of the remaining Avengers following the five-year jump following Thanos' beheading. The filmmakers considered putting a greater concentration on what happened to civilians after Thanos took out half of all life, with Natasha heading up an organization in Washington that was in charge of taking care of kids who were orphaned. She herself was an orphan with a less than ideal childhood.
As Joe Russo explains, the idea would've taken a little too long in a film that was already pretty packed, running just over three hours:
"One thing that we talked about a lot—and I thought was really profound, but it was almost too large of an idea for us to wrangle, but we did try for a while—is just the idea that one-quarter of all children have no parents. Assuming you started with two parents. So that’s a lot of global orphans. Just the staggering number of that. I believe at one point really early in development, Black Widow was actually leading the organization in D.C. that was in charge of orphans, basically. That was what she was heading up five years later. But yes, it’s fascinating when you start running it down."
Endgame continues to crush the box office, winning domestically for the third weekend in a row. Its global haul is just shy of $2.5 billion, taking it past Titanic's No. 2 spot and closing in on Avatar's all-time worldwide record of $2.78 billion.