Black Widow post-credits scene

The best part of seeing an MCU movie in theaters isn’t the massive screen, booming audio, or even the excitement of a crowd reaction — it’s the singular, smug joy of sitting through the credits while an unlucky, uninformed few exit the theater. While they head home, the rest of us wait for the brief but meaningful scene that will be the source of speculation for weeks to come. The most recent Marvel release, Black Widow, is no exception. Its post-credits scene both hints at the future and gives fans something they’ve been waiting for since the summer of 2019: closure.

Major spoilers for Black Widow ahead.

The Black Widow post-credits scene shows Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) parking a car in a quiet, woodsy area then strolling down a grassy hill in a stunning outfit, with a dog at her side. At first, it’s a joy to see she’s finally bought herself more than just a pocket-heavy vest. But this dissipates once we see her adjusting flowers at her sister’s grave. While much of Black Widow occurs following the events of Captain America: Civil War, time has finally caught up with the movie. We’ve fast-forwarded through the final films in the Infinity Saga and arrived at a time post-Avengers: Endgame, after Natasha’s (Scarlett Johansson) death.

Leaning close to the tombstone, Yelena whistles the tune from their childhood. After a beat of hoping Natasha will magically whistle back, she stands in acceptance. Though the scene is tragic, there’s something oddly settling about finally seeing Natasha’s grave. Given we once felt cheated by the lack of time spent mourning her, there’s a calming finality to this official goodbye.

In a recent interview with Variety, director Cate Shortland talked through the choices that went into this scene. She revealed that its location was suggested by Black Widow actress herself, Scarlett Johansson.

“Scarlett talked to me about it: Her character would have hated a public funeral. So I felt like the fact that she’s buried in a really private place, in the boondocks somewhere [in Ohio], is perfect.”

Black Widow Scarlett Johansson smoke

The Legacy of Natasha Romanoff

Natasha’s Avengers: Endgame death was all the more heartbreaking because she wasn’t properly celebrated. Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) sacrifice and emotional funeral closed out the film, along with a teary farewell to Steve Rogers (Chris Evans). Their deaths then echoed through the MCU projects that followed: much of Spider-Man: Far From Home is about Peter Parker coming to terms with the loss of his father figure. Similarly, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier see Steve’s best friends trying to reconcile their roles without him. And Natasha? Natasha is briefly mourned, in the middle of Endgame‘s three-hour run, then mentioned at Tony’s funeral as another person lost.

But Natasha is a core, original member of the Avengers. She pulls the team together more than once and takes charge of keeping things afloat when the world seems beyond repair. Her final sacrifice makes their Endgame win possible. Giving her a proper sendoff has been a long time coming, and Black Widow makes sure to deliver.

The movie itself is a final farewell, allowing her arc to close so she can actually rest in peace. Natasha not only takes down the Red Room, which stole her childhood and autonomy for so many years but reconciles with her first family before resolving to do the same with the Avengers.

Reuniting with her sister is the crux of the movie. Together, they begin freeing the other Red Room widows, and Natasha entrusts the rest to Yelena. This passing of the torch makes their goodbye ache more, but it’s also the source of our closure. Of this, Shortland said:

“I know the reaction that fans had to Scarlett’s death in ‘Endgame. The fact that we got to see that moment between her and her sister, it means that to me, she is eternal, you know?”

Yelena’s story after Black Widow will likely take a few interesting detours, but it’s only fitting that she carry on Natasha’s legacy.

Black Widow is playing now in theaters and with Premier Access on Disney+.

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