It didn't take long for Yelena Belova to become an instant favorite amongst Marvel fans when she made her MCU debut in Black Widow earlier this year. Florence Pugh's sarcastic assassin stole the hearts of the MCU faithful and each scene in the film made it even clearer that this woman was about to be a staple of the franchise going forward. Fortunately, the post-credits scene after Black Widow assured fans that Yelena would be returning to the screen rather quickly, teasing an appearance in Marvel's Hawkeye series. With Hawkeye now in the bag, the guessing game regarding Pugh's next MCU appearance finally begins.
WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the season finale of Marvel's Hawkeye! Continue reading at your own risk...
We learned throughout the last few episodes of Hawkeye that Yelena had been hired by Eleanor to take out Clint Barton, and she was informed that it was Clint who was actually responsible for Natasha's death. The audience knew that wasn't true, but it took Yelena a couple of episodes to figure it out. She finally reached Clint in the finally and had the opportunity to kill him, but he was able to convince her that he loved Natasha and that he never would have done anything to hurt her. That left the two of them in a similar place, still grieving over the loss of Natasha and adjusting to a world without her in it.
The last we see of Yelena in Hawkeye she's parting ways with Clint, and that leaves her immediate MCU future in a state of mystery. There's no real hint about where she's going or when she will pop up next.
Valentina Allegra de Fontaine has been employing Yelena for jobs since the Blip, and she was the one who initially told Yelena that Clint had killed Natasha. It stands to reason that Yelena's first move will be to have a less-than-pleasant chat with Valentina. That said, neither of them have been confirmed to appear in any of the upcoming Marvel titles. The Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel sequels don't exactly seem like fits for Yelena, given her skillset. The same can be said for Thor: Love and Thunder and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The only "grounded" MCU projects in the immediate future are Echo and She-Hulk, both of which could include Yelena pretty easily. Echo would make the most sense after the two characters crossed paths in Hawkeye.
Most fans are holding out for another team-up project, with the Thunderbolts or Young Avengers at the center. Valentina's recruiting of Yelena and John Walker has some folks thinking she might be putting together a Thunderbolts team, while the friendship between Kate and Yelena could lead to some kind of Young or West Coast Avengers team.
Sadly, there's no way to know right now exactly when we'll see Yelena again, or what she'll be up to. But Florence Pugh clearly loves playing the character and Marvel Studios sees just how much the fans love the character. It feels safe to assume that the young Black Widow will be back around sooner rather than later.
When do you think we'll next see Yelena in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Let us know in the comments!