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Endgame writers reveal what happened with the Soul Stone

Contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame

Though they have major impacts on the Marvel universe as we know it, the six Infinity Stones are fairly easy to understand in terms of their powers and capabilities. The Soul Stone, however, is arguably the trickiest to wrap one's head around — particularly in regards to how it can be acquired and what happens if it's returned to the place from which it was taken. Luckily for those who were left puzzled by everything that went on with the Soul Stone in Avengers: Endgame, the film's screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have come forward to explain what exactly happened. 

A little refresher for the Soul Stone-related events in Avengers: Endgame: Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) took a trip to Vormir, Hawkeye obtained the Soul Stone after Black Widow threw herself off the planet's massive cliff, and then Captain America (Chris Evans) traveled back to the past to place the Stone in the same spot it was before Black Widow sacrificed herself. As Marvel fans know, one must give up a soul before they can take the Soul Stone — and that seemingly poses a problem for Cap's return trip. How did he successfully return the Soul Stone? And, perhaps more importantly, would putting the Soul Stone back revive the person who died for it?

Markus and McFeely explained during a recent episode of CinemaBlend's HeroBlend podcast that Captain America faced no trouble returning the Soul Stone — but sadly, the soul-for-a-soul exchange that Black Widow and Hawkeye made with the keeper of the Stone, Red Skull (Ross Marquand), wasn't reversed in that moment. 

"It's a good question. I think it is an everlasting exchange," said McFeely when asked about how someone can return the Soul Stone and what happens after they do. Markus added that it's like "a slot," in which one puts a soul so that the Soul Stone can pop out. McFeely agreed, saying, "It's like an old time bank. It's a pneumatic tube."

Unfortunately, this shows that just because the Soul Stone was returned doesn't mean that those who were sacrificed to allow another person to obtain it will come back to life. The exchange is permanent, and the soul that was placed into the "slot" can never be retrieved. As Markus told it, "You put it back, but you don't get anything in return. It's not like a pawn shop."

Fans held onto the hope that Black Widow could be resurrected once Captain America put the Soul Stone back on Vormir, but according to Markus and McFeely, that's apparently not ever going to happen, as it's simply not the way the Soul Stone works. Sure, the two explained the mechanics of the Soul Stone with some playful language, likening the Soul Stone's keeper to a pawnbroker and the whole transaction to an old-school bank that required customers to put their cash in a little tube and send it shooting inside the building, but the takeaway would be the same even if Markus and McFeely gave it to us straight. Evidently, someone can't just say that they don't want the Soul Stone anymore and will give it up to get back the soul they sacrificed. The trade is permanent and there are no refunds. Based on what Marks and McFeely stated here, Cap returning the Soul Stone only patched up the timeline — it didn't undo Black Widow's death. 

This has a huge repercussion on the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, since Marvel Studios is currently developing a Black Widow solo movie. Now that Markus and McFeely have seemingly confirmed Black Widow is never coming back from the dead, it appears the only time setting in which the hero's forthcoming standalone can take place is the past. Marvel has kept quiet about the film, as well as about anything that's coming after Spider-Man: Far From Home this July, but there has been much speculation about when Black Widow is set. Past reports pin the film as being a period piece, set partially in Natasha Romanoff's younger years working with the KGB and then jumping forward to 15 years after the fall of the KGB. If Markus and McFeely are to be believed without a shadow of a doubt, if there truly is no way that Nat can be resurrected, then there isn't any other point in time that Black Widow screenwriter Jac Schaeffer can place the film other than years before the events of Avengers: Endgame

Losing Black Widow in Avengers: Endgame was a painful experience, and though she may never come back to life in the present day to join the Avengers who lived through the film, the silver lining of it all is that the hero is set to make at least one more appearance on the big screen before fans say goodbye forever.