After several Multiversal affairs in Loki and What If...?, Marvel Studios' small screen branch is set to go back to Earth (literally) with the upcoming debut of Hawkeye.
Set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, the story will follow Clint's time in New York with his family during Christmas, but the unexpected arrival of a Ronin impersonator (who is later revealed to be Kate) forces him to stay in the Big Apple to sort out his past mistakes.
While the show's premise is essentially known by many, there are still plot details that have yet to be unveiled. One such example is the reported appearance of Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova.
Black Widow served as the launchpad of Yelena's story in Hawkeye, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine assigning the former Red Room agent to track down Clint and make him pay for Natasha Romanoff's death during Endgame.
During Black Widow's post-credits scene, the tease essentially confirmed Yelena's inclusion in Hawkeye, but one of the show's directors played coy about the matter in a recent interview.
Hawkeye Director Teases Black Widow's Yelena
Hawkeye director Rhys Thomas sat down with GamesRadar+ to talk about the upcoming appearance of Black Widow's Yelena Belova in the series.
When asked if a showdown between Clint Barton and Yelena will be showcased, Thomas admitted that he "can't speak" about it, shifting the topic to the titular character's guilt over what happened during Avengers: Endgame:
"I can't speak to that. But yes, we know their past, and obviously what happened in Endgame. We know in these first two episodes that Clint's dealing with the fallout of that."
The MCU director continued teasing Yelena's appearance, letting fans imagine that it's a "happy meeting" between Nat's sister and best friend:
"But in terms of how they meet, I can't – I'll just pretend I don't know. Imagine it's a happy meeting, where they talk over coffee and work things out."
Thomas then discussed how Hawkeye fits in the larger MCU, pointing out that "it all connects in some way" but assured fans that the story is "its own little world:"
"It's definitely a standalone thing in that we have this Christmas setting and this very fixed timeframe story. But it being the MCU, of course, it all connects in some way as well. And we've got new characters, and this was teed up at the end of Black Widow as well. And so everything is always a nice entry point. But I think for the most part, the story is its own little world."
Yelena's Quest for Revenge Against Clint Barton
Rhys Thomas' comments suggest that he is not allowed to talk about Florence Pugh's upcoming appearance as Yelena in Hawkeye. It appears that Marvel Studios is treating Yelena's appearance as a major spoiler, which is surprising considering the setup of Black Widow's post-credits scene.
This isn't the first time that someone from Marvel Studios played coy about Yelena's appearance in the series. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige previously teased that "Florence [Pugh] will have future appearances in the MCU," with him not mentioning Hawkeye in his comments.
Still, it's interesting to point out that Pugh herself is promoting Hawkeye on Instagram, essentially cementing her inclusion in the series.
It will be interesting to find out how Clint would react to Yelena's arrival. Considering the pair's strong bond with Natasha Romanoff, many would agree that it would likely be an emotional confrontation.
Meanwhile, the director's remark about Hawkeye's place in the MCU is a common notion for every entry in the interconnected universe. The first reactions to Hawkeye are already praising the street-level vibe of the series and the strong performance of its stellar cast.
That said, Hawkeye seems poised to establish its own identity while still setting up connections to other projects like Echo and even the long-rumored Young Avengers.
Hawkeye is set to have a two-episode premiere on Disney+ on November 24, 2021.