Marvel fans can expect to see a whole lot more of Yelena Belova. Black Widow spends a majority of its runtime setting up the character (played by Florence Pugh) as a likable new protagonist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the film ultimately succeeds in doing just that. The character’s origin and personality are all well-established through her relationship with Natasha (Scarlett Johansson), and her talents as a spy and assassin are made explicitly clear throughout the film.
And just before Black Widow truly comes to an end, the film sends Yelena on a path that few could have seen coming.
Major Black Widow spoilers ahead.
Yelena’s Next Target — Black Widow’s post-credits scene shows Yelena paying an emotional visit to Natasha’s grave site, where she runs into her new boss, Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). The scene then sees Val make a few quips about being “allergic to the midwest” before presenting Yelena with her next assignment.
The mission in question? Tracking down and killing Clint Barton aka Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), who Val falsely tells Yelena is “the man who killed” her sister. It’s an unexpected moment — one that sets up a major confrontation between Yelena and Clint to come in a future Marvel film or show (presumably the Hawkeye Disney+ series).
Whether or not Yelena is able to successfully take out Clint, as Val has effectively motivated her to do, remains to be seen. Nonetheless, the question remains: why does Val even want Clint Barton dead in the first place?
Why Val Wants Hawkeye Dead
Between her appearances in Black Widow and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Val hasn’t had a whole lot of screen time in the MCU up to this point, which makes predicting the character’s plans and overall arc particularly difficult. With that being said, it’s looking more and more likely that Val intends on not only building her own team of MCU anti-heroes, but also having her recruits kill and replace the existing Avengers.
At least, that explanation fits in well with the admittedly little we’ve seen Val do so far. Her recruitment of John Walker (Wyatt Russell) and Yelena confirms what many Marvel fans had already begun to suspect — that she’s building her own team of highly-skilled, super powered individuals (call them the Dark Avengers or Thunderbolts, if you will). She’s shaping up to be the MCU’s dark alternative to Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and that makes her an interesting new player to keep track of in future films and shows.
But Val’s decision to send Yelena on a mission to kill Clint suggests that she’s not just looking to form her own Avengers — she’s looking to replace them entirely. To make matters even more interesting, the Black Widow post-credits scene also makes it clear that she’s willing to resort to whatever means necessary in order to take certain Avengers out.
Now, there’s obviously reason to think that Yelena won’t actually end up killing Clint, especially since he didn’t do what Val claims he did. But if Val is sending Yelena after Clint, then who might she send John Walker after? Are we in store for a rematch at some point between Walker and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie)? Or will his next target be someone other than the new Captain America? At this point, the possibilities seem limitless.
The Inverse Analysis — This is, of course, all purely speculation for the time being. Val’s plans could very well turn out to be different than her Black Widow scene implies, and for all we know, she could have a different reason for pitting Yelena against Clint. As of now, though, it’s hard to see what those other possible explanations might be.
Regardless of what Val’s ultimate endgame is, Black Widow’s post-credits scene still tells us quite a bit about the character that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier didn’t. Specifically, we now know that Val isn’t just a well-connected player working in the shadows, she’s also an expert at emotional manipulation. And if she’s willing to tell Yelena the exact lie she’d need to hear in order to go after Clint, then there’s no telling what lies she might tell other MCU characters moving forward.
Black Widow is in theaters and available to stream on Disney+ now.