WARNING - This article contains spoilers for Black Widow.
Fans of Scarlett Johansson's SHIELD spy have been calling for Black Widow to lead her own MCU solo outing since the character made her debut in 2010's Iron Man 2. While it's taken over a decade, a global pandemic, and a drop off a Vormir cliff to get to this point, Black Widow has finally released into theaters and onto Disney+ Premier Access.
But to the surprise of many, the long-awaited spy thriller isn't just the celebration of Natasha Romanoff's MCU legacy that was expected. Black Widow arguably serves as just as much of a solo outing for Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova, setting the stage for the new hero to take on the legendary spy mantle in the future.
With the ending of the newly-released epic leaving moviegoers wondering what the future holds, a producer on the film has responded to questions of Pugh's MCU future.
BLACK WIDOW PRODUCER TEASES YELENA'S FUTURE
In a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight, Black Widow producer Brian Chapek has cryptically teased the MCU future of Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova.
Chapek revealed that Black Widow “needed to do two things,” most importantly it had to “celebrate Natasha's legacy” since fans have been calling for Scarlett Johansson to lead her own solo film for some time. But, the summer blockbuster also had to “introduce new characters into the future of the universe” to “get fans excited for the next Phase,” which the film was originally set to kick-off in May 2020:
“This movie needed to do two things: The most important thing was to celebrate Natasha's legacy. It's something that fans have been asking for for so long. At the same time, we needed to tell a story that is going to introduce new characters into the future of the universe and get fans excited for the next Phase.”
The producer went on to praise Pugh as “an amazing, fan-favorite character” who is “just an amazing person to work with.” However, Chapek was unable to confirm anything about “Florence and her future in the MCU” but “hopefully [they'll] be able to find something for her:”
“There's nothing I can say about Florence and her future in the MCU at this point, other than she's an amazing, fan-favorite character so far and just an amazing person to work with. So, hopefully we'll be able to find something for her, but we'll see.”
Marvel Studios EVP Victoria Alonso has also suggested Yelena — or one of the film's many other Widows — may have a future to come in the MCU, saying that the long-awaited solo film “opens the door for other Widows to come.”
WHERE WILL YELENA POP UP NEXT?
Months prior to the release of Black Widow, The Direct broke the news that Florence Pugh would return as Yelena in the upcoming Hawkeye Disney+ series. The film's post-credits scene added further clarity to her role in the show as The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's Valentina sent the Russian spy on a mission to kill Clint Barton, the man she claimed to be responsible for Natasha's death.
With Belova seemingly lined up to replace Natasha in the Black Widow mantle, fans should expect Barton to eventually reveal the truth to Yelena and to turn her against Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Valentina, but obviously not before the two go head to head.
After Hawkeye, it's anyone's guess where Belova could show up next in the MCU, with no obvious projects she could drop into left on the currently-announced Phase 4 slate.
The solo spy thriller has already been confirmed as the end for Scarlett Johansson in the MCU, however, some members of the crew have suggested the franchise may continue with a different lead. Naturally, it's painfully obvious that Pugh is the new lead in question, but it will likely be a few more years before any potential sequel sees the light of day.
Black Widow is in theaters now and is available for purchase on Disney+ Premier Access.