How the Black Widow end-credits scene sets up Marvel's future plans
Let's read some tea leaves.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Black Widow.
Natasha Romanoff's journey may be over, but we haven't seen the last of her Soviet superspy family.
After being delayed for more than a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Marvel is finally back on the big screen, digging into phase 4 of the MCU with the long-anticipated Black Widow. Set between Captain America: Civil War and Natasha's death in Avengers: Endgame, the solo adventure follows Scarlett Johansson's assassin-turned-Avenger as she reunites with the spy family she grew up with: mother figure Melina (Rachel Weisz), boisterous dad Alexei (David Harbour), and little sister Yelena (Florence Pugh).
The film ends just before Avengers: Infinity War, with Natasha leaving to face her destiny. But an end-credits scene jumps forward in time, after Natasha has sacrificed herself to help defeat Thanos. We see Pugh's Yelena paying her respects at Natasha's grave, still grieving her sister's death.
Suddenly, her mourning is interrupted by a new face: Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Val, a.k.a. Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. The pair trade a few quips, before Val reveals why she's really there: She wants to give Yelena an opportunity for revenge. Specifically, revenge on the man she believes is responsible for her sister's death — Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye.
As is tradition with so many Marvel credits scenes, this one sets up a future project. Renner and Pugh have already been confirmed to star in the upcoming Hawkeye Disney+ series, following the avenging archer as he teams up with new protege Kate Bishop (played by Hailee Steinfeld). But it's clear that unlike her big sister Natasha, Yelena holds no love for Clint Barton, and their eventual meeting is unlikely to be a cordial one.
Notably, this isn't the first time Marvel fans have met Louis-Dreyfus' purple-haired Val. The cryptic contessa first popped up earlier this year on Disney+ in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, fashioning herself as a sort of benevolent patron to Wyatt Russell's John Walker. (Interestingly, Black Widow was originally supposed to debut first, before the pandemic pushed back its release date.) Between John and Yelena, Val seems to be, uh, assembling a group of non-Avengers, serving as some sort of alternate Nick Fury. Exactly what her goal may be… we'll have to wait and see.