Save Black Widow. It Might Finally Give Davy Crockett Some Closure.
Warning: Contains multiple spoilers from The Avengers: Endgame. And Davy Crockett at the Alamo.
The Marvel Comic Universe, even more than life, offers second chances. If Marvel and its Disney bosses keep being as smart as they have been up until now, they will use one of those second chances to resurrect Black Widow.
If they do not, they will be repeating a bad mistake Disney made more than 60 years ago.
On Feb. 23, 1955, ABC aired Davy Crockett At the Alamo, the third in a series of five Disneyland productions on Crockett, a real-life Tennessee soldier and politician from the early 19th century.
The real-life Crockett died along with somewhere around 200 other men in March 1836 at the real-life Alamo, a small fortress in San Antonio. They were killed by Mexican troops under General Santa Anna, who was attempting to reclaim for Mexico the territory we know today as “Texas.”
Santa Anna didn’t have much time to enjoy his win. Six weeks later the Mexican army lost the Battle of San Jacinto and marched back to the other side of the Rio Grande, where they have remained ever since.
Davy Crockett was still dead, however, so that’s the way Davy Crockett at the Alamo ended. As seen on ABC, Davy was the last man standing, perched on one of the tower walls as he valiantly swung his rifle at the onrushing wave of Mexican soldiers. The camera panned upward to the flag of Texas and the last lines from “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” swelled in the background as our story came to a close.
In its own way, it was even more melodramatic than the death of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow in Endgame.
In order to reclaim the Soul Stone, which the Avengers needed to reconstitute the half of the world’s living creatures who had been vaporized by Thanos at the end of Infinity War — if you aren’t a fan, this will make no sense, which is okay, because it doesn’t make you a bad person — a soul had to be sacrificed.
Black Widow more or less volunteered herself, so we saw her plunge a great distance and land in a heap on very hard rocks. Splat.
Like Davy Crockett helping pave the road to San Jacinto, Black Widow helped ensure the Soul Stone would be secured and the vanished half of life restored.
So while the other Avengers were sad, they consoled themselves that her sacrifice was not in vain. As a show of further respect, no one mentioned that she probably wouldn’t have lived forever anyway on her seemingly preferred diet of peanut butter sandwiches on white bread.
The larger dramatic point here, however, is that Disney made a bad mistake when it killed off Davy Crockett, because the TV series had turned him into a phenomenon. There were books and T-shirts. “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” became a major pop hit. Crockett’s “coonskin cap” was a must-have for young boys, who didn’t mind that most of them were actually rabbit fur, and those same young boys pestered their parents for buckskin jackets with fringe, like Davy wore.
Had there been social media in 1955, Davy Crockett would have been almost as big as the Avengers today. Even then, Disney was savvy with merchandising, and everyone made quite a killing.
You know, though, that Disney was also slapping itself on the forehead, because Davy would have been worth even more alive.
Sure, Disney aired a couple of prequels. But once we all knew Davy was dead, the whole thing became melancholy instead of exhilarating.
Fast-forward to 2019, with Marvel about to begin filming its long-promised Black Widow prequel, reportedly for 2020 release.
A Black Widow story with origin elements, in and of itself, isn’t a bad idea. Black Widow has always been the most shamefully underdeveloped Avenger, the one whose backstory has rarely consisted of more than passing hints.
Yet in Endgame, she was the Avenger who stayed on the case years after Thanos’s vaporizing trick. While Thor was drinking six-packs instead of developing one, she focused on how the Avengers could reverse their earlier defeat.
She understood that in the MCU, unlike in 1955 Disneyland, there are all sorts of potential second chances and do-overs. If things aren’t working out in this world, hey, you hop over to another one.
If Marvel wants to bring Black Widow back — call it a second chance for everyone — c’mon, folks, there must be at least 50 ways. Hop on the bus, Gus. Make a new plan, Stan.
There’s also, not incidentally, this. Marvel could stand to do better by its female characters in general, Captain Marvel notwithstanding. Since it already created a potentially great character in Black Widow, finding a way to scrape her off the rocks and put her back into action would be a smart decision all around.
On a simpler level, we just like her, the same way we liked Davy Crockett 64 years ago.
After Davy Crockett At the Alamo aired, hundreds of thousands of young boys tried desperately to imagine a scenario in which he could have survived against odds of literally a thousand to one. He couldn’t.
Black Widow can. Do it, Marvel and Disney. Do it for Davy.