Major spoilers are ahead. Because Black Widow exists in this awkward in-between space, released in theaters two years after the titular character died in Avengers: Endgame, the Black Widow post-credits scene is kind of the only thing that matters story-wise when it comes to the future of the MCU. Which is fine. That's fine! It's not the first Marvel movie to be set in the past: both Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain Marvel took place long before the present day timeline. Still, that simple fact does place added pressure on Black Widow's epilogue, so we should probably talk about what the just happened.
If you've finished the movie, you know Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) is really just one of the film's titular characters. Romanoff may be known as "Black Widow" to Marvel fans, but she's not the only Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Another, and Natasha's pseudo sister, Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) is poised at the end of the film to fill the Avengers' Black Widow position the way Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) took up the Captain America mantle after Falcon & The Winter Soldier. However, like Natasha before her, there's a dark twist.
In the scene, we see Yelena visiting Nat's grave in Ohio. Thank goodness for that — one of the biggest concerns after Endgame was that Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) got an extended funeral sequence and Natasha got jack squat. After paying her respects to her sister, Yelena is interrupted by none other than Julia Louis Dreyfus. Yelena calls her "Valentina" and it's clear that Yelena is working for this woman as an assassin. Valentina gives her the name and face of her next target, and it's a doozy: Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), also known as Hawkeye. What does it all mean? Well, I'll tell you.
Who is Valentina in the MCU?
That's Valentina Allegra de Fontaine to you, thank you very much. Julia Louis Dreyfus first made a surprise cameo as Valentina in the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. But even everyone who watched that series only saw Valentina very briefly and the timeline between Sam and Bucky's (Sebastian Stan) show and Yelena's Black Widow post-credits scene is not exactly clear. What you really need to know is that the role Val played in both projects is relatively the same: basically, evil Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).
On FATWS, Val appeared out of the shadows to recruit John Walker (Wyatt Russell), a former government-appointed "Captain America" whose entitlement and thirst for violence does not align with Steve Rogers' core values. At the end of the series, Val gives Walker a darker new suit and an authoritarian new name: U.S. Agent. It's also kind of implied that she's working with Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl), the bad guy from Captain America: Civil War, and potentially Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), who's taken a villainous turn as well.
Val is definitely up to something, and it has to do with recruiting Marvel characters with specialized skills, possibly for some kind of team. Contenders from the comics include the "Thunderbolts" and the "Dark Avengers." There are plenty of fan theories already about the future possibilities for Valentina and her squad, and she's barely had five minutes of screen time.
The plot thickens a bit when you consider that technically, Black Widow was supposed to be released in theaters before Falcon and the Winter Soldier hit Disney+. Originally, we were supposed to meet Val at the end of this movie before she recruited John Walker. In hindsight, that might have made it more clear that Walker was making a deal with the devil and setting himself on a dark and absolutely not redemptive path. Yelena fans can rest slightly easy after seeing her entangled with Val though: She doesn't seem to particularly like this dark side recruiter, at least.
Will Yelena be in Hawkeye?
Pugh is officially set to appear in the Hawkeye series that will hit Disney+ in late 2021. And her new assignment is is actually a nice callback to Natasha's origin story. In the scene where Nat speaks with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in The Avengers, she tells him that while serving the Red Room, Barton was sent to kill her but "made another call." They teamed up to take down the Red Room and Natasha became one of the good guys. Now there is a chance to repeat that, in reverse, with Yelena on a mission to kill Hawkeye. Surely she'll make another call true once she meets Clint and learns the truth about her sister's death... right? Val frames the assignment as a way for Yelena to get revenge, but anyone who saw Endgame can tell you that Nat's death was absolutely not Hawkeye's fault, not even a little bit.
And just as Natasha is not the only Black Widow in Black Widow, Clint Barton is not the only Hawkeye in Hawkeye. The series also stars Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop, who takes up the mantle in the comics. As long as Yelena doesn't mow down Clint, Hawkeye could be the start of a beautiful friendship between Clint's protege and Natasha's little sister. And after watching Black Widow, knowing that Yelena lost her sister after everything they went through, this cold, hard assassin could use a friend.