The Marvel Cinematic Universe is back in theaters this month with Black Widow, the first MCU theater release in almost over two years. The film has everything that fans have come to know and love from a Marvel movie — high-flying action, a comic book feel and, of course, a post-credits scene to keep fans talking.
The post-credit bumper has become a bit of a tradition in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and every MCU film released for some time now has included some sort of short scene that plays after the main feature is completed. These scenes are usually used to tease future films, storylines and villains; often, they’re shocking or surprising reveals that are meant to keep comic-books fans theorizing online for months on end. “Black Widow” is no different.
The post-credits scene in “Black Widow” takes place in the “modern day” of the MCU; that is, after the events of “Avengers: Endgame”. The events of the film — which was filmed almost entirely in Budapest — takes place between “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War”, but the post-credits bumper takes place in the more current timeline of the MCU.
How do we know this? Well because in the scene, Natasha Romanoff‘s sister Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) is standing looking at the grave of Natasha, who died in “Avengers: Endgame” in a desperate attempt to retrieve the Soul Stone and save the universe.
As Yelena does so, Julia Louis-Dreyfus appears, reprising her role as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, who was last seen in “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier”. Valentina is mysterious and conniving as ever, though it’s clear from the way that she speaks to Yelena that the pair is familiar with each other and working together.
And indeed, as Belova complains that she’s supposed to be on vacation, Valentina gives Yelena a new mission: killing Clint Barton. Barton who, of course, is also known as the Avenger Hawkeye. Barton was present for Natasha’s death, a fact that, based on Yelena’s reaction, seems to be a point of contention for her.
But what does this short scene tell us about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Two major things. Firstly, it gives a pretty good indication of what the Hawkeye show on Disney+ will look like. Secondly, in a much bigger-picture sense, it confirms what many fans had been theorizing: that Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is a long-term antagonist who seems to be putting together a superpowered team of her own.
Let’s begin with Hawkeye. It was confirmed back in December that Pugh would appear as Yelena Belova in the Disney+ series, though her exact role in the series was kept a secret until now. Of course, now that “Black Widow” has been released, it seems that Yelena’s appearance in the series will at least, in part, have to do with attempting to assassinate Clint Barton for de Fontaine.
The series, which in addition to Pugh features Jeremy Renner, Hailee Steinfeld and Tony Dalton, will air on Disney+ later this year, and it will be interesting to see just how closely tied to “Black Widow” and the rest of the MCU that show will be.
And indeed, what does the “Black Widow” end-credits scene mean for the Marvel Cinematic Universe at large beyond Hawkeye? It’s not entirely clear, but one thing is for certain: Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is nabbing up superpowered individuals, and she’s doing it quickly. In addition to working with Yelena, Valentina also has John Walker—the angry, violent, government-appointed Captain America last seen in “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” — on her side.
Why is Valentina collecting vigilantes though? Well some fans think it’s to form The Thunderbolts, a superpowered team of heroes from Marvel comics that are far more cut-throat than the current Avengers team. This certainly seems like a good theory, as Valentina very much seems to be positioned as an anti-Nick Fury as of now.
Additionally, a number of characters who eventually join the Thunderbolts in the comics have already appeared in the MCU: Thaddeus Ross, Hawkeye, Taskmaster, Ghost, Baron Zemo are all characters who appear on the team in one form or another, as are Yelena and John Walker. With that many heroes already in the mix (and already meeting each other for that matter) it certainly seems as if something Thunderbolts-adjacent is coming to the MCU.
Either way though, it’s good to have Marvel movies back in theatres, and one need only look at the expectation-shattering performance of “Black Widow” at the box office to see that. And although Disney+ series like “WandaVision” and “Loki” have kept MCU fans satiated through the first half of 2021, there really is nothing like an end-credits scene to get Marvel fans buzzing online and beyond.
The one in “Black Widow”, while short and somewhat simple, has definitely done that, and it will be exciting to see what comes next for Marvel and their Phase 4 movies. With plenty of films planned for the coming months and years, there will, if nothing else, be plenty more end-credits scenes to dissect and analyze!