This weekend’s (unavoidably belated) release of Black Widow marks the kickoff of the cinematic side of Marvel Studios’ Phase Four of the Cinematic Marvel Universe. And while we have already know the titles of the films and streaming series that make up this cycle, Marvel has been rather close-lipped as to what storylines may be interwoven through them.
We do know that there may be some multiversal shenanigans in a plotline that starts at WandaVision and the waves its way through the upcoming features Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange And The Multiverse Of Madness. (And I wouldn’t be surprised if the just about concluded Loki has something that weaves in there as well.) Additionally, we know that there is something up with the shape-shifting aliens known as Skrulls, which may intersect with the theatrical Captain Marvel 2, now known as The Marvels, before most likely feeding into the streaming series Secret Invasion, which is due late next year.
But there is another storyline, introduced in Falcon And Winter Soldier, that we know next to nothing about. But perhaps the end credit tag scene in Black Widow may provide some clues.
Daughter Sister Avenger
The scene takes place post-Avengers: Endgame, so sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Keep in mind that the main part of Black Widow takes place in 2016 probably not long after the events of Captain America: Civil War, also set in 2016. The Avengers: Infinity War takes place in 2018 while the main portion of Endgame takes place “5 Years Later,” so 2023.) Yelena is visiting the grave of Natasha, who gave her life in Endgame so Clint Barton/Hawkeye could retrieve the Soul Stone Infinity Stone. As she stands there, thinking about her lost sister, she is joined by Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis Dreyfus), whom we first met, and last saw, in the Disney+ streaming series The Falcon And The Winter Soldier.
(We talked about who Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is and what she might be up to back in April.)
It is obvious from even the beginning of their discussion (“You’re not supposed to be bothering me on my holiday time, Valentina.”) that there is an employee-employer relationship between the two women, and a somewhat adversarial one at that. But it becomes clear that Yelena is still working as an assassin and it is Valentina who is her new boss. Val has a “new target” for her to kill. “The man responsible for your sister’s death,” she says as she hands Yelena a computer tablet with Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye’s picture on it.
What This Means For The Future
We had already known that Pugh’s Yelena will be returning to the MCU later this year in the Disney+ Hawkeye streaming series. And obviously, the Black Widow tag scene now places some context around that appearance, setting Yelena up as that show’s probable main adversary.
But it also helps to clarify some of the mystery surrounding the MCU version of Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. When we were introduced to her in The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, her motives were unclear as to why and for what she was recruiting John Walker. Of the course of the character’s life in the comics she has gone from being a high-ranking agent of the spy organization SHIELD to the chief of the terrorist organization Hydra. Her actions in Falcon And Winter Soldier may have been ambiguous, but with her appearance in this scene as she is assigning Yalena to murder Natasha’s friend and co-Avenger Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, it is hard to see where she might be on the side of the angels.
(It should be noted that Hydra gets name dropped In Black Widow. Perhaps as a way of subtly reminding audiences about the organization as a harbinger of their possible return?)
So where is this plotline ultimately heading? It is hard to say. Although the Disney+ shows will share a tight interconnectedness with the theatrical MCU films, I have a feeling, just based on the film schedule announced for the next three years or so, that this storyline might actually be played out more in the Disney+ shows than the theatrical films. I certainly don’t think that these two small appearances will lead to a story that will end in Hawkeye. There are two announced series that don’t focus on one or two central characters where a bigger story, one where someone like Valentina could be moving several people into position for, takes place – Secret Wars, set for sometime in 2022 and Armor Wars which will premier at some point in 2023.
I expect, though, that we will get some further clues as to where all of this is heading when Hawkeye begins to roll out towards the end of the year.