Marvel Studios Hid Yelena's Black Widow Surprise From Hawkeye Writers

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By Richard Nebens Posted:

Marvel Studios is more than halfway through its final Disney+ show of the year, Hawkeye, which is bringing new surprises seemingly every week with the original Avenger's solo story. From teases pointing to Vincent D'Onofrio's return as Kingpin to Episode 4's confirmation that Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova is on the hunt for Clint Barton, the last two episodes of the season have plenty of threads to tie off.

Clint Barton is now dealing with an incredible amount of trouble during a holiday season he still wants to spend with his family, particularly with at least two or more parties actively looking to take him out. While fans had to wait for some time to find out specifics on those parties other than the Tracksuit Mafia and Alaqua Cox's Echo, the threat is now nearly fully realized.

Yelena Black Widow post credits
Marvel

Specifically, Yelena's arrival has been one of the hot topics surrounding this series since her appearance was first confirmed in the post-credits scene from 2021's Black Widow. As it turns out, there's even more to that story than initially expected, as her inclusion was kept a secret from people working on Hawkeye itself.

Yelena's Hawkeye Tease Kept Secret from Writers

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Hawkeye head writer Jonathan Igla revealed that he had to keep Yelena's appearance in the series a secret for as long as possible once he found out about the Black Widow post-credits scene. He also admitted that he initially lobbied for her to be in the show and that the team was working her in before that scene came to fruition.

Hawkeye Black Widow Post Credits
Marvel

Igla looked back on a time when he had to keep the Yelena scene from everybody else on the writing staff while developing the series, even for as much as he wanted to be honest about everything coming to the show:

“There was a length of time where I wasn’t supposed to share it with the rest of the writing staff. There were a handful of things like that, which was challenging. I did my best. I like to think that I’m an honest broker and if somebody tells me not to share something, even if I think, ‘Well the writing staff really needs to know this,’ then I’m just going to trust their process …. I kept it under my hat for awhile.”

Even though Marvel Studios worked this hard to keep Phase 4's secrets from its own team, Igla confirmed that he has no hard feelings toward the Black Widow team. He simply presented his case to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, Co-President Louis D'Esposito, and Co-President Victoria Alonso for Yelena's place in the story:

“I had made the case to Kevin and Lou and Victoria that Yelena had a place in our story and this was the right place for her next chapter. So I think the scene was created to support that,” says Igla. “Obviously, the rest of the writing staff knew we were building pitches around her as soon as I got the thumbs up.”

Secret Keeping Within Marvel Studios Itself

Marvel Studios is notorious for being one of the most secretive studios in the business, having been the team to popularize the use of post-credits teases during the MCU's earliest days. Now, things appear to be going to even higher levels in this regard with scenes like this being kept from the crew working on future Marvel projects that are impacted by such scenes.

The Direct had teased Yelena's inclusion in Hawkeye at the end of 2020, although it was unclear at the time how she would join the fray or what role she would play. With Pugh's anti-hero meeting Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Val in the final moments of Black Widow, it became clear that Jeremy Renner's veteran Avenger was in for a rough time as he took on his own solo story.

Whether this was the reason for Yelena's delayed arrival is still a mystery, although it couldn't have been easy for Igla to keep that secret while pulling the Hawkeye story together fluently. Now that it's out in the open, fans and Marvel personnel alike are on the edge of their seats waiting for the rematch between Natasha Romanoff's closest allies.

The first four episodes of Hawkeye are available to stream on Disney+. Episode 5 will premiere on Wednesday, December 15.