If you’ve seen Black Widow and stuck around for the end credits scene – and honestly, we don’t know why you wouldn’t – you will have seen that Yelena is instructed to go after Hawkeye / Clint Barton. However, if you’re confused about why she would do this, then the details below might shed a little light on her motives and what it means for the rest of the MCU.
Essentially, the scene takes place mid-credits and it sees Yelena at Natasha / Black Widow’s grave to mourn her passing in an emotional nod to her sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame. However, the moment is interrupted by a snotty Valentina Fontaine, who gives her a new target, showing her the picture of Hawkeye and telling her that there’s the added benefit that he’s responsible for her sister’s death.Advertisement Obviously, Natasha and Yelena weren’t actually biological sisters, but when they were together at the beginning of Black Widow in Ohio, Yelena was pretty young, so for her it was as real as it gets. You can see how significant the emotional bond is at the end of the film and in the section where they meet up with their mother figure, Melina, and she pours her heart out to her undercover dad, Alexie. However, the why all comes back to the not insignificant influence of Valentina Fontaine.
Who is Valentina Fontaine?
If you haven’t got a clue who Valentina Fontaine is, you must have missed The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. She was instrumental in getting into the head of the false Captain America, John Walker, and recruiting him to her seemingly dubious cause. She plays on his emotions to manipulate him, while also persuading him that doing what she wants is for the greater good.Advertisement She’s played by Julia Louise-Dreyfus of Seinfield fame, and we’ve only got her performance in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier to go on in terms of her modern day interpretation. However, in her comic book days, she was a high ranking agent for S.H.I.E.L.D without much in the way of a darker side, so clearly there’s a divergence in the way the character is portrayed between the old and the new.
As you can see in the Black Widow mid credits scene, she has clearly recruited Yelena and it looks like they’ve been working together for a number of years.
Hawkeye is just the latest target in their arrangement and Yelena seems to either completely trust Val, or she just continues to do the only job she knows how to do, but for a less disreputable and overtly controlling boss.Advertisement Maybe things started out with Val giving her jobs to eliminate targets affiliated to Dreykov’s operation, but things seem to have moved on from there.
Taking the Clint Barton job will be the latest in a long line of targets from Valentina and Yelena will just be normalised to the process by this stage. You’d expect the fact that he’s an Avenger would put her off the job, but with the link to Black Widow’s death in Endgame and with Valentina chirping in her ear, she goes after him, which you can see at the end of Episode 4 of Hawkeye on Disney+.
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Why might Yelena think Hawkeye / Clint Barton was responsible for Black Widow’s death?
From an initial viewpoint, it might not seem like there are any reasons why Yelena would think that Clint Barton is totally responsible for the death of Black Widow, but dig a little deeper and things get a bit murkier. The fact that she died so far away with only one witness in very strange circumstances is going to lead any sister to question things at least a little.
Add to that Clint’s dark mid-Blip period of terrible revenge and retribution as Ronin, which is at the centre of the storyline for Hawkeye Season 1, and you’ve got grounds for suspicion. In fact, his reign of terror against the underworld organisations of the world might have been the real reason Yelena is given the job in the first place when he appeared again.
You might say that’s double standards considering Yelena’s occupation, but from her point of view she’s bringing people to justice for what could well be a splinter arm of S.H.I.E.L.D. In other words, she’s legit, but Barton went on a rampage of savage death and destruction in a vigilante capacity. Surely there was some “collateral damage” during the Ronin days and now it’s time to pay the price.
However, clearly she’s going to be acting on an emotional response, alongside the influence of Val. When you take the loss of her sister and couple it with Hawkeye’s murderous period it all adds up to the reason why Yelena is going to try to assassinate him. The good news is that this is going to come to a head in the Disney Marvel TV series, Hawkeye, which arrived on Disney+ on the 24th November 2021, so we’ll get to see how it all plays out very soon.
We’ve already seen in Episode 4 that it might just be Kate Bishop’s mum, Eleanor, that arranges for Yelena to be assigned as a Black Widow assassin with Clint as her target. While we don’t know for sure, it seemed like she’d put a call in to someone influential after their altercation by the elevator, so this may well have been Valentina Fontaine.