Marvel Studios is practically synonymous with post-credit scenes, so it’s no surprise that Black Widow — the MCU’s first movie in almost two years — continues that tradition. Going all the way back to 2008’s Iron Man (teasing Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury and “the Avengers Initiative,”) the post- and mid-credit tags have been used to set the table for the next movie in the Marvel machine.
But Black Widow does something different, using its post-credit tag to tease not a future film, but an upcoming Disney Plus show. It’s the highest profile push toward the streaming service yet.
Warning: gigantic spoilers ahead for Black Widow — and for Avengers: Endgame.
What happens in Black Widow’s post-credit scene?
Unlike the rest of Black Widow, which is set as a prequel of sorts, between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, the post-credit scene jumps to after Avengers: Endgame. Yelena (Florence Pugh) is visiting Natasha’s gravesite and paying respects to her sister — but is then recruited by Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (also known as Val, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) to get revenge on the man who killed Natasha: Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), better known as the Avenger, Hawkeye.
What does it mean for future Marvel shows?
Most obviously, Black Widow’s credit scene is laying the groundwork for the upcoming Hawkeye show set to debut on Disney Plus later this year, which will see Pugh reprise her role as Yelena / the new Black Widow — and presumably, face down Clint over Natasha’s death when she does show up.
But the scene also emphasizes the current Marvel strategy. Val was first introduced in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney Plus, where she was last seen recruiting the disgraced Captain America knock-off U.S. Agent to her service. If you hadn’t been keeping up with the Disney Plus shows so far, you’ll likely be clueless as to her significance as a future MCU player, and her presumably less-than-heroic intentions.
For years, the post-credit scenes have been used as integral advertisements for future films in the franchise. Key characters like Nick Fury and Thanos both first made their appearances in the credit tags, and they’re so part and parcel of the Marvel experience that it was notable when the studio skipped one following Endgame. So it’s particularly notable that the studio is choosing to use the space to make sure fans are tuned into Hawkeye when it debuts later this year, instead of advocating for Shang-Chi, Eternals, or another feature film.
The Black Widow credits tag is a huge vote of confidence in Disney Plus shows as a viable part of Marvel’s future, cementing them not as optional side-quests but as key parts to experiencing the full Marvel story. It also speaks to how important getting — and keeping — Disney Plus subscribers is to Disney, and how integral Marvel’s content machine is to building out the streaming service.
Black Widow itself is also a testament to Disney’s focus on pushing Disney Plus, given its simultaneous release as a $30 Disney Plus Premiere Access title alongside its traditional theatrical debut.
And one thing is clear — expect these kinds of crossovers between the film and TV sides of Marvel to only continue to grow in the future.