Black Widow's solo film isn't without its connections to future MCU projects.
It only took 12 years, but "Black Widow" finally got the spotlight in her own solo outing.
But the movie, which takes place between the events of "Civil War" and "Infinity War" -- and, of course, before Natasha's on-screen death in "Avengers: Endgame" -- not only serves as a swan song for Scarlett Johansson's run as the red-headed assassin, but also as an introduction to Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova.
Yes, this is very much Johansson's movie, filling in some important backstory about her time with the Red Room and what really went down in Budapest, but with her "Endgame" death, is Natasha's story over? While multiverse madness could somehow see Johansson's return down the line, it feels like Yelena is the future of the Black Widow mantle. Especially after that post-credits scene that teases her appearance in another upcoming Marvel project.
The film ends with the Red Room meeting its fiery end, General Dreykov killed in a nasty explosion and both Taskmaster -- Dreykov's daughter -- and the rest of the Widows cleared of their mind control. Yelena, Melina (Rachel Weisz) and Alexei (David Harbour) go off to free other agents around the world from being brainwashed as well, while Natasha dyes her hair blonde, hops onto a jet and heads off to free the Avengers from The Raft. That brings her straight into "Infinity War" territory, before her death in the next movie. Her arc is complete.
The post-credits scene, instead, focuses on Yelena, who is seen visiting a grave for Natasha at what looks like a Widow graveyard. The headstone reads, "Daughter. Sister. Avenger." and also has her signature logo on it.
Yelena's sweet moment paying tribute to her "sister" is short-lived, however, interrupted by the fabulously named Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) blowing her nose behind her.
Like US Agent from "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" before her, it's clear Yelena is now working for the Contessa, tells her, "You're not supposed to be bothering me on my holiday time, Valentina."
"Bothering you? No, no. I'm just here paying my respects," Valentina responds, before the two joke about wanting a raise. "Believe me, you're gonna earn it. I've got your next target," the Contessa tells her, "Thought I'd hand deliver it. Maybe you'd like a shot at the man responsible for your sister's death. Kind of a cutie, don't you think?"
The photo is of Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, who fought with Nat over who would sacrifice themselves to acquire the soul stone at Vormir. Yelena seems down for the challenge.
While it was already confirmed that Pugh's character would appear in Disney+'s upcoming "Hawkeye" series, now we understand why a bit better. Not only will she be going up against Jeremy Renner's Clint, but also his young protege and future Hawkeye, Kate Bishop.
Between U.S. Agent and Yelena, it's clear the Contessa is building her own team of super soldiers, but one with more nefarious goals than the Avengers. The Thunderbolts perhaps? We'll have to wait and see.
But considering how Yelena broke free from being a mindless killer for the Red Room, it's unclear why she would sign up to be an assassin for someone else. Hopefully, we get that answer -- and possibly some changing allegiances -- when the Hawkeye series drops later this year.
"Black Widow" is in theater on Disney+ with Premier Access now.