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What the ‘Black Widow’ post-credits scene hints about the future of the MCU

Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), left, and Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh)
Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), left, and Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) appear in a scene from Marvel Studios’ “Black Widow.”
(Marvel Studios)

Warning: This article discusses the plot and final scenes of Marvel’s “Black Widow.”

Black Widow” takes place between the events of “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” but the film’s post-credits scene brings us back to present day with a heart-wrenching visit to Natasha Romanoff’s grave.

Natasha’s “sister” Yelena (accompanied by her dog Fanny) barely has a moment to grieve before she’s joined by Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) who — due to the pandemic’s reshuffling of Marvel’s release schedule — previously made her debut in the penultimate episode of the Disney+ series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.”

The Contessa is a Nick Fury-esque figure shrouded in mystery who appears to be collecting skilled fighters with ties to former Avengers, including former Captain America, U.S. Agent John Walker (Wyatt Russell) on the Disney+ series.

The character’s comic appearances date back to the 1960s when she was first introduced in Marvel Comics’ “Strange Tales” No. 159. A spy skilled in combat, the Contessa was a top S.H.I.E.L.D. operative with some (romantic) history with Fury. Over the years, her storylines have seen her leading an all-female S.H.I.E.L.D. team and being replaced by shape-shifting Skrulls. Eventually she was revealed to be a double agent working for the villainous organization HYDRA and even assumes the mantle of Madame Hydra.

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Yelena reminds the Contessa that she is on vacation and tells her she needs a raise, implying that unlike Walker, the two are previously acquainted. “You and me both,” De Fontaine replies before offering Yelena a chance to seek retribution on “the man responsible” for her sister’s death. She shows her a photo of Clint Barton and informs her that he is her next target.

With the new post-"Endgame” phase of the Marvel Universe now in full effect, De Fontaine’s appearance seems to presage a team of antiheroes, perhaps an Avengers-offshoot, much like Fury’s initial introduction in the post-credits scene of “Iron Man” (2008).

It’s also a perfect segue into the upcoming “Hawkeye” Disney+ series, which will also introduce the character Kate Bishop, a wealthy teenager who learns archery after she is brutally attacked. Florence Pugh is confirmed to reprise her role as Yelena for the series.

The as-yet undated show is expected to arrive on Disney+ later this year with Jeremy Renner reprising his role as the titular archer. The series is the first stand-alone venture for Barton, the only one of the original Avengers who has not yet had a solo outing, and may see Renner pass on the title to Bishop.

Times digital editor Tracy Brown contributed to this report.


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