Black Widow Ending And Post Credits Explained
What does the latest entry into the MCU have to say about the future of Phase 4?
It's been two years since we've had any MCU movies at all to talk about, but this has finally changed. is available in theaters and on Disney+ at long last, and that void in our lives can finally be filled. Sure, we've had three different MCU TV shows on Disney+ in the meantime, which has certainly taken the edge off, but there's nothing quite like getting a solid 2+ hour chunk of superhero action in one go.
That said, whether you've watched the movie yet or are just looking for spoilers, this is your warning. From here on out we're going to be diving into the ending (and the post credits) of Black Widow.
The Story And The Ending
We already know that Natasha is dead in the present day MCU, so how exactly does Black Widow end and what does it mean? Well, it's complicated. Given this movie's time period, in the chunk of time between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, you'd be correct in expecting that the immediate effects of Black Widow's ending are a little bit vague--we've spent several years, movies, and now TV shows in what would be considered both the aftermath of the movie itself and the aftermath of Natasha's death and obviously haven't seen too many effects come into play. Still, if we take into consideration the MCU's burgeoning penchant for retcons, or retroactive continuity, Black Widow does change things up in ways that will obviously manifest at some point in the future.
The ending actually goes down like this: Natasha is made aware of the continued existence of the Red Room, an organization she assumed she had destroyed as part of her final effort to defect and join SHIELD. To finally put these ghosts of her past to rest, she teams up with her pseudo-adoptive family--"father" Alexei AKA Red Guardian, "mother" Melina, and "sister" Yelena--all of whom are still loosely affiliated with the Red Room and have a vested interest in its destruction.
To accomplish this, Natasha and her friends have to figure out a way to both find the Red Room--which turns out to be a floating fortress, not unlike a SHIELD helicarrier--and assassinate the leader, a man named Dreykov. Natasha actually assumed she had killed Dreykov years ago, but that wasn't the case, and he had spent the time afforded to him by his own faked death perfecting and training up even more Black Widow agents. These Black Widow agents were, unlike Natasha, so severely brainwashed that they were essentially mindless drones only able to act on free will after they were freed with a chemical blast that somehow erased their programming--or, at least erased part of it. You see, there was another level of brainwashing in place for all Black Widow agents that involves a pheremonal lock that prevents them from harming Dreykov if they're in close proximity to him--Natasha has that one, but we'll touch more on that in a second.
In addition to training up more Black Widow agents, Dreykov also invested in a new project--an agent called Taskmaster--who turned out to be his own daughter. The tragedy here is that during Natasha's initial assassination attempt, Dreykov's daughter had been deemed an acceptable loss and collateral damage, despite being just a child--so Natasha had assumed she had murdered her as well. But, as it turned out, Dreykov's daughter had been severely maimed but had survived. Her father had invested money and technology into not only keeping her alive but honing her into the perfect killing machine--a sort of Terminator-like cyborg capable of "downloading" any fighting style and executing it with perfect precision.
Ultimately, however, it's revealed that Natasha was prepared (thanks in part of Melina's pre-briefing) for most of these surprises and is able to confront Dreykov directly while her friends hold off both Taskmaster and the other Red Room agents. To circumvent the pheremonal lock, Natasha shatters her own nose and is finally able to kill Dreykov for good. The Red Room is brought down (literally) and the remaining Black Widow agents are freed from their programming. This includes Taskmaster, who is freed from the brainwashing but whose final fate is left ambiguous--as a nearly invincible cyborg, it's best not to totally count her out.
Whether or not she, or any of the Widows, will be able to rejoin society (and subsequently show up in future MCU projects) in earnest is another question that only leads to more questions.
Specifically, if the MCU has in fact been populated by people who are just as highly trained as Natasha for this long, what were they all doing in the time through Infinity War and Endgame? Surely every single one of them wouldn't have been dusted by the Snap, right? And what about Melina, Alexei, and Yelena?
There's probably a Disney+ show in here somewhere to fill in all these newly created gaps, if not another movie all together. And speaking of Disney+ shows.
The Post Credits
With Black Widow as the first movie to come out during the Disney+ era, it's only appropriate for it to link up with the shows in some way, right? And we get that connection in the form of the traditional post credits scene. Set after Endgame, we return to Yelena who is visiting Natasha's grave--and she's not alone.
While we don't get a full picture of what Yelena has been doing with her time, we get some clues in the form of our good friend Val (Julia Louis Dreyfus), who we first met back in Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Apparently Yelena and Val are associates, though it's never made clear how they met or when this arrangement actually started. Yelena has been working for Val in some capacity, and Val has a new mission for her.
And what is that mission you may ask? Tracking down the "man responsible for Natasha's death," of course--one Clint Barton.
This tells us some very important things. First, we'll likely be seeing Yelena again very soon in the upcoming Hawkeye TV show where she'll apparently be acting as some sort of antagonist. Second, it clues us into Val's agenda a bit more. We last left her recruiting John Walker, so it was obvious from the start that she wasn't exactly invested in getting the best and brightest, and was more than willing to get into the darker areas of the moral grey zone.
Of course, we have no idea how Val came into this information--after all, the incident that killed Natasha did involve Hawkeye, but it happened on another planet. So it's also possible that Val is just as much a pawn in this as she is a ringleader, depending on the source of her intel, and ultimately, her motives for sending Yelena after Clint.
We'll just have to wait for the Hawkeye show to be sure.