Black Widow post-credits scene explained: What happens in the ending?

As usual with Marvel movies there is a Black Widow post-credits scene, and it of course provides teases towards future MCU projects. Expect full Black Widow spoilers from this point out! Is the Black Widow end credit scene set before or after Natasha’s death in Avenger’s Endgame? Who is the Black Widow Valentina character? How does the Black Widow ending set up the Hawkeye Disney Plus show or the Shang-Chi movie? Let’s explain it all.

Black Widow post-credits scene: Who is Valentina?

Black Widow post-credits scene

Unlike most Marvel movies there is no mid-credits scene in Black Widow, but there is a post-credits scene set after the events of Avengers: Endgame and Natasha’s death on Vormir. The scene shows Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) visiting Natasha’s grave in a place similar to where her biological mother is supposed to be buried. Yelena is approached by a woman who she calls “Valentina” — this is Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), as previously seen in episodes 5 and 6 of The Falcon And The Winter Soldier Disney+ series — although Black Widow was supposed to come out first.

Like John Walker/US Agent from the show, Yelena now appears to be in Valentina’s employ. Given that in Marvel comics she is best known as Madame Hydra, this might not be a good thing, especially when the audience discovers why she has visited Valentina.

Black Widow post-credits scene: Does it set up the Hawkeye TV show?

Black Widow post-credits scene Hawkeye

Perhaps the biggest surprise of Black Widow’s end-credits scene is that it doesn’t directly set up future Marvel movies, but the main MCU project that it teases is actually the Hawkeye Disney+ TV series — which is due to start in late 2021, at some point after the end of the Loki TV show, which concludes next week. Valentina talks to Yelena about her next target, presumably for assassination, and asks Yelena if she wants to take out the man who killed Natasha. The Contessa then shows her a picture of Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Since Yelena isn’t aware of the history between Clint and Natasha, presumably when she appears in Hawkeye’s show she’ll be trying to kill him.

Black Widow post-credits scene: Does it set up Shang-Chi?

Black Widow post-credits scene Shang-Chi

The next Marvel movie of 2021 is Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which releases just two months from now on September 3. While the most direct reference in the post-credits scene is to Hawkeye, there is a subtle hint that Yelena — and possibly Valentina — may have a connection to Shang-Chi’s villain The Mandarin and the Ten Rings organization.

At one point Yelena reaches towards Natasha’s grave and the audience can see she has rings on all of her fingers, making ten in total. The shot is brief but it lingers for just a second longer than necessary, to make sure everyone spots it. Given that the Ten Rings is a global organization that has been around for centuries, and was established in the first MCU movie Iron Man, it would make sense that both Yelena and Valentina were working for it and its leader The Mandarin. Fans will have to wait until September to find out.