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Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for Black Widow are ahead!
With the exception of Avengers: Endgame, ever Marvel Cinematic Universe movie has featured at least one mid/post-credits scene, if not several. Black Widow, which hit theaters and Disney+’s Premier Access tier last Friday, continued that trend by winding the clock forward to show Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova visiting Natasha Romanoff’s gravesite post-Endgame. Yelena was soon joined by Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, and Black Widow writer Eric Pearson admits that he feels guilty about what their conversation sets up for the MCU’s future.
For those who need a refresher on Black Widow’s post-credits scene, or on the off chance you’ve read this far and haven’t seen the movie, Valentina decided to personally inform Yelena who her next target will be: Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye/Ronin, who Valentina describes as the man “responsible” for Natasha’s death. While speaking with THR, Eric Pearson mentioned that Marvel Studios requested that Clint be the target, and when he wrote that scene, he wasn’t informed about where we’d see Yelena next. In his words:
I was like, ‘Who am I screwing over? Something is going on! I don’t have an answer for this.' They were like, ‘You don’t need to. We are going to figure that out.’ I remember writing it and feeling super guilty. ‘I hope whatever writer is working on this next chapter is going to be OK with what I’ve done to them.'
Although we’ve known since December 2020 that Florence Pugh is reprising Yelena Belova for Disney+’s Hawkeye series, Black Widow’s post-credits scene provides some much-needed context for why she appears as Clint Barton is training Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop. Eric Pearson did his duty of capping off the first Phase 4 movie by establishing more ties between Yelena and the wider MCU, but this subsequently led to him worrying about if this plot twist would cause problems for the writer(s) on another MCU project down the line.
Fortunately, it seems like things worked out, as fitting Yelena Belova into Hawkeye feels organic given how close Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff were. Whether or not the Hawkeye writers, headed by Mad Men’s Jonathan Igla, were bothered by having to include the character or welcomed the opportunity is unclear, but now we’ll get to see Yelena and Clint cross paths. Hopefully he can quickly clear up with her what truly happened on Vormir, because as anyone who watched Avengers: Endgame knows, Clint did everything he could to try and make it so he would be the one to sacrifice himself for the Soul Stone rather than her.
Black Widow also marked Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ second appearance as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, having first shown up in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier to recruit John Walker. However, because Black Widow was originally supposed to be released in May 2020, this was intended to be the first time audience saw her MCU incarnation, so Eric Pearson was “excited” that he was able “do a lot to shape Valentina’s personality.” It remains to be seen if Valentina truly knows what happened between Natasha and Clint on Vormir or if she’s simply inferring what went down from what little information is available, but either way, she wants Clint out of the picture and believes Yelena is the person to get the job done.