Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for Black Widow.
In the credits scene of Black Widow, we see Yelena (Florence Pugh) visiting a cemetery sometime after the events of this solo film. We see she’s at the grave of Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), signaling that yes, Natasha really did die during the events of Avengers: Endgame and she’s staying dead.
But then a surprising figure also appears at the gravesite: Valentina Allegra de Fontaine aka “Val” (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Yelena tells Val that she’s on holiday and not doing work at the moment, which lets us know that unlike Val’s introduction to U.S. Agent (Russell Wyatt) in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Yelena and Val have been working together for some time on unknown projects. Val says she’s come by because she knows that Yelena would want this mission because she knows the person responsible for Natasha’s death: she then hands her a tablet with Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) on it, which sets up a confrontation between Natasha’s sister and best friend.
Of course, MCU fans know that Clint wasn’t responsible for Natasha’s death as he tried to sacrifice himself to get the Soul Stone, but she simply outmaneuvered him. I’d be willing to wager that Val knows this too because so far, her M.O. seems to be setting up her own dark version of The Avengers. She already has her Captain America with U.S. Agent and now she has her Black Widow with Yelena. We also reported back in December that Florence Pugh was coming to the upcoming Disney+ Hawkeye series starring Renner and Hailee Steinfeld, so this credits scene kind of functions as a lead-in to her appearance there.
The larger question this scene raises is how far with Val get in her attempt to put together a darker Avengers? Is Yelena really going to kill Barton or will he manage to explain that he wanted to sacrifice himself and save Natasha? And what really is Val’s long-game here other than amassing morally dubious figures for her own team? Marvel Comics has been here before when they had X-Force operating as kind of the Black Ops of the Marvel Universe, and it’s possible that Val isn’t “evil” as much as she’s willing to create her own team that does the dirty work MCU heroes won’t. Of course, this could also be prelude to a hero-turn where characters like U.S. Agent and Yelena discover their better natures, turn against Val, and join the Avengers proper.
As for the Hawkeye of it all, I’ll be curious to see how much of a factor Yelena plays in that series. We don’t know if she’s the main antagonist for Barton or if she’ll be skulking around at the margins of the plot waiting for her opportunity. I will say it’s interesting that in the very first Marvel movie back, they’ve chosen to use their stinger scene to set up an MCU series rather than the next movie. It leads me to wonder what exactly we’ll be seeing when we get Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals later this year. As for Hawkeye, the series is slated to debut on Disney+ before the end of 2021.
John Boyega has saved the day for this indie drama.
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