WARNING - This article contains spoilers for Black Widow.
The post-credits scene of Marvel Studios' Black Widow saw the highly-anticipated return of Julia Louis-Dryfus' Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. The mysterious authoritative figure approached Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova with a new target: Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye.
Fontaine made her MCU debut just three months ago in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's fifth episode. There, she attempted to recruit Wyatt Russell's John Walker, who had just been stripped of his Captain America title after bludgeoning a member of the Flag Smashers.
In the season finale, Fontaine's recruitment efforts proved to be successful. Walker emerges in a red, white, and black variation of his Captain America suit, fresh with the rebranded title of US Agent.
Based on Walker's villainous actions throughout the series, many have penciled his recruiter in as an antagonist herself. Couple that with her interaction with Belova in Black Widow, and Fontaine's status as a bad guy seems all but confirmed.
That said, a new detail from Black Widow's post-credits scene points to Fontaine being a force for good.
FONTAINE'S APPLE PRODUCT HISTORY
While Julia Louis-Dryfus's Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine has only appeared in a handful of MCU scenes so far, she has almost always been accompanied by a piece of technology.
The post-credits scene of Black Widow has Val assigning Belova her next target: Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye. She issues this assignment via an iPad Mini. This isn't the first time Val has used an Apple product, as she holds an iPhone 12 Pro Max in multiple shots of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Apple is just about the most popular tech brand globally, so why does Val's use of their products mean anything?
NO iOS FOR ANTAGONISTS
With product placement comes regulations, and one filmmaker says this tech company has one major clause.
According to director Rian Johnson, Apple won't let villains use iPhones:
“Apple, they let you use iPhones in movies, but, and this is very pivotal, if you’re ever watching a mystery movie, bad guys cannot have iPhones on camera,” Johnson said in a 2020 Vanity Fair interview. “Every single filmmaker who has a bad guy in their movie that’s supposed to be a secret wants to murder me right now.”
The Star Wars: The Last Jedi director revealed this information while doing press for Knives Out, a murder mystery that pits eight suspects in a room together as they deliberate on who was the killer. While each character operates in a moral gray area, only one emerges as guilty. Incidentally, the killer is the only one to not use an iPhone at any point during the film.
MARVEL VILLAINS ADHERE TO THIS RULE
While fans won't catch intergalactic baddies like Thanos and Hela using landlines, Earth-based antagonists communicate on cell phones plenty of times. Foes like Justin Hammer, Helmut Zemo, and Jasper Sitwell have all been seen taking phone calls, yet not a single one of them uses an iPhone.
Emily VanCamp's Sharon Carter could be seen taking calls on a non-iPhone two weeks before she was revealed to be the villainous Power Broker. iPhones appear plenty in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier in the hands of characters like Sarah Wilson and Joaquin Torres, both of which operate on the good side.
IS VAL A BAD GUY?
Assigning Belova the "target" of an Avenger is pretty antagonistic, but the assignment comes on an iPad Mini. If the MCU is adhering to this unwritten rule, is Val really a villain?
There are three ways to approach Val's mission for Yelena.
For starters, "target" is a loose term. Val could be targeting Hawkeye as a recruit for her ranks. She does show a picture of Clint in his Ronin attire, a suit he's infamously more aggressive in. Coupled with the ruthless John Walker and the relentless Yelena Belova, Hawkeye's dark side could fit in well amongst Val's squad.
That aside, what if Clint is the bad guy here?
Sure, he was bringing down criminals, but he was executing his pursuits in brutal fashion. John Walker is viewed as bad from the start, but the only people he kills are antagonists.
How is Clint Barton's Ronin persona any different? Val might see Barton as a figure of injustice. This is a man who left a trail of bodies for half a decade and is able to leave Avengers: Endgame happy, with his family reunited by his side.
As for that third option?
CLINT BARTON: HAWKEYE, RONIN, SKRULL?
The shape-shifting aliens from Captain Marvel are due for a heel turn next year.
2022's Secret Invasion primes the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a parasitical takeover from the Skrulls. On the page, this storyline thrived because of its unpredictability. With an enemy that can replicate the appearance of anyone they set their eyes on, trust issues naturally escalate to a fever pitch.
Marvel Studios would be remiss if they didn't have at least one MCU veteran turn out to be a Skrull. With Tony and Natasha out of the equation, Steve Rogers retired on the moon (reportedly), and Thor venturing in space, that only leaves two OG options: Bruce Banner and Clint Barton.
If Barton is a Skrull, he's a threat. Val does seem to be anticipating an attack, and her recruitment efforts prove she wants savages on her squad.
THINGS ARE GONNA GET WEIRD
While this impending invasion is hush-hush (it's in the name), Val seems to know quite a bit. Between her knowledge of Walker's Super Soldier status to the events of Vormir, Val is an encyclopedia when it comes to MCU lore. She knows her history, so its only appropriate to assume she has accurate predictions about the future.
"Things are about to get weird." What could be stranger than a shape-shifting takeover?
With the status of the Avengers team currently in question, Val could very well be assembling her own squad of anti-heroes to take out Skrulls. After all, Earth will need protectors that don't hesitate. Can Sam Wilson be trusted to pull the trigger on a Skrull that looks like Steve Rogers? Is Wanda Maximoff strong enough to extinguish a Vision-looking phony?
Considering Yelena didn't blink when Nat first confronted her in Black Widow, she fits the mold of Val's squad. Val does give her mercenary the extra motivation to take out the man "responsible for [her] sister's death," ensuring Yelena goes into this inevitable confrontation bloodthirsty and not remorseful to the man who helped save her sister many years ago.
Val's iPad Mini is far from confirmation that she'll be batting for the light, but it adds a layer to her character that fans should keep an eye out for. It is currently unknown when she will pop up next, but JLD's character is one fans should keep an eye on moving forward.
Valentina Allegra de Fontaine can be seen in both The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, streaming now on Disney+, as well as Black Widow, in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access.