Marvel Studios’ Black Widow — the first new movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic — is finally hitting theaters and living rooms this weekend, on the big screen and on Disney Plus.
But between the last Marvel movie and Black Widow there’s been something new: Marvel’s Disney Plus television shows, which are tied much more directly into Marvel Cinematic Universe canon than their predecessors like Agents of SHIELD or Agent Carter.
Case in point: If you haven’t kept up on Marvel’s TV series, Black Widow’s end credits scene is gonna throw a lot of new stuff at you.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for Black Widow and some Marvel television shows on Disney Plus.]
The fact hanging over all of Black Widow is that the whole thing is a prequel — taking place between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War — and its main character is dead in modern Marvel movie continuity.
During the events of Avengers: Endgame, Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) sacrificed her life on the planet Vormir so Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) could walk away with the Soul Stone. Since she outright died, and wasn’t caught in Thanos’ snap, she did not return with the other characters when the Avengers used the assembled Infinity Stones to undo his work.
And while Black Widow proper stayed firmly in the past, the movie’s end credits scene give us a reminder of the present, as a current-day Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) and her dog Fanny visit Natasha’s grave. There, she’s cornered by a newcomer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus).
In the comics, Fontaine is a SHIELD double agent, who eventually defected and rose to command her own evil secret society as Madame Hydra. Her MCU incarnation is still largely shrouded in secrecy. Black Widow was originally going to be Fontaine’s first appearance in the franchise, but thanks to COVID-related release date shuffling, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premiered before Black Widow, and debuted her first.
What seems clear is that she works for the United States government in some secretive capacity, and she’s preparing for an upcoming conflict by contacting her own recruits. In TFatWS, she made contact with John Walker, and aided him in his transformation from Captain America to the U.S. Agent.
From Black Widow’s final scene, it seems clear that Yelena has found a place working for the U.S. government — or at least for Fontaine, as she complains that she’s supposed to be on vacation rather than in the field for Fontaine.
But Fontaine has arrived with a more personal mission, and she hands over a file on Clint Barton, Natasha Romanoff’s beloved partner. The Marvel Cinematic Universe viewer knows that Natasha sacrificed herself on Vormir as Clint yelled at her to let him do it instead, but Yelena only has Clint’s word for that. Fontaine explains that this is Yelena’s chance to go after the man who killed her sister, and the scene ends with that promise: Of an inevitable showdown between Yelena and Hawkeye.
That showdown is almost certainly coming this fall in Marvel’s Hawkeye television series, inspired by Matt Fraction and David Aja’s 2012 comic series of the same name. Disney announced that Florence Pugh had joined the cast of the TV show in late 2020.
So, if you want to know everything there is to know about Fontaine, check out The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. And if you want to know what happens with Yelena, keep an eye out for Hawkeye on Disney Plus.