NOTE: This article was originally published on July 8, 2021. “Black Widow” is now available to all subscribers on Disney+.
(WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Marvel’s “Black Widow”)
“Black Widow” is finally here, and it fills in a big gap in the timeline by showing what happened while Natasha Romanoff was on the run between the events of “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” And it also raises a new question. We know that Natasha was part of the half of humanity that didn’t get snapped out of existence in “Infinity War,” but what about the rest of her family?
In the post-credits scene we simply see Yelena visiting Natasha’s grave, as we leap ahead seven years on the MCU timeline. Weirdly, it has no indication of whether she or the others were snapped. Yelena could’ve been blipped and returned, or she could’ve survived from the get-go.
There’s just one potential hint: when Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s Valentina shows up, their dialogue indicates an existing working relationship, with Yelena saying things like “You’re not supposed to bother me on my holiday time” and “I want a raise.” And Valentina says, “I’ve got your next target,” which would imply Valentina had given her at least one previous target.
The problem is we don’t know when exactly the “Black Widow” post-credits scene takes place. If it had been months since everybody came back, then it’s very plausible Valentina could have hired Yelena in that time. If it’s been only days or weeks, the proposition gets a lot more difficult to swallow.
So, yeah, we don’t know. And as it turns out, neither does David Harbour, who plays Natasha’s “father” Alexei.
“I have no idea” Harbour confirms to with a laugh. “That’s a great question.”
Before this movie, the fate of Natasha’s family isn’t something we really needed to worry about. As far as we knew, the Avengers were her only family. But by the end of “Black Widow,” she’s reconciled with her first family, Alexei, Melina and Yelena, and they were all alive when they parted ways. If she lost them in the snap on top of her fellow Avengers, it’d be twice as devastating and would make her fanatical drive to bring them back all the more understandable.
Really, Harbour is just as curious about this as we are.
“I love that he’s like, so absent in that though, and then he’s such a thing here. Because to me, that’s a story in and of itself,” Harbour says. “And then you know, if he were to possibly find out about [Natasha’s] sacrifice… I mean, there’s just so much potential for whatever could could come next.”
And that’s the other question that comes into play at the end of “Black Widow” — do people not know about Natasha’s sacrifice? Because Valentina is trying to pin it on Clint Barton to Yelena — which makes no sense in and of itself, but that’s another conversation — calling him the person “responsible” for her sister’s death.
Obviously we the audience know that Valentina is clearly just trying to stir things, and it’s possible that Yelena and her family are still in the dark. And Clint himself was the only witness. Maybe he told his story about what happened on Vormir, and Yelena simply didn’t believe it.
For what it’s worth, Alexei and Melina are definitely alive at the end of “Black Widow.” And when a notable character makes it through an entire Marvel movie, chances are pretty good they’ll pop up at least one more time. Though Harbour insists he doesn’t know when or if Alexei will return, he’s definitely open to it.
“I would love to give people more, and I’m glad he’s alive at the end of the movie, too,” Harbour says.