(Warning: We’re going to discuss the very end of “Black Widow” here. So if you don’t want any spoilers for the end of the movie, you probably don’t want to read this)
At long last, Natasha Romanoff has gotten her own movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in theaters and on Disney+, after more than a decade of playing the sidekick. Scarlett Johansson has played a significant role (not cameos) in eight MCU movies, including “Black Widow,” which is a mark that only Robert Downey Jr. can match — and he had the advantage of having three “Iron Man” movies to headline. Natasha has been the heart of the MCU as a utility player, essentially.
“Black Widow” picks up right after “Captain America: Civil War” when Natasha is on the run — obviously, she died in “Avengers: Endgame,” and so it had to take place before that. During the film, she reunites with her old “The Americans”-style former spy family, goes on a big adventure to take down the Red Room — the place where she put through all sorts of atrocities as a child — and then at the end of the movie escapes somehow from the grasp of General Ross (William Hurt) and his army cronies once more and heads out to help Steve Rogers break all the other members of #TeamCap out of prison.
But it’s not a clean escape. “Black Widow” ends with Natasha standing amid the wreckage of the Red Room, her family and the other Widows safely away as black government SUVs approach. Then the movie cuts to black, before giving us a brief “two weeks later” epilogue scene in which Natasha’s smuggler pal gifts her a quinjet.
How did she get away? We don’t know, you don’t know, and “Black Widow” director Cate Shortland doesn’t know. Here’s what she told us when we asked her about this confusing scene.
“That was intentional, because we wanted to leave the question of how she would get away, rather than allow the audience to get exhausted by another fight,” director Cate Shortland told TheWrap.
“We wanted to leave you guys on a high with the question of how did she use her ingenuity? Because she did. And it was probably, I would say, she bargained her way out of that situation. But I don’t know.”
What we would normally take away from this is that we’ll find out what happened there in a later movie. Perhaps when we catch up with Yelena (Florence Pugh) in the “Hawkeye” show on Disney+. But since the events of “Black Widow” will be very old news in the present narrative — it takes place about seven years before “Avengers: Endgame,” (when the f-year time skip happened) — it doesn’t seem like a topic that will have much reason to come up. But it is something that Clint would probably end up knowing about, so if there’s any place where this whole deal might get cleared up, it’s on “Hawkeye.”
Otherwise, our best guess is that Natasha offered that mind control antidote as a trade, though it’s not clear how much use General Ross and co. would have for it, since this is the first time in the MCU we’ve seen this specific form of control. Yelena takes great pains to point out that Natasha had undergone mental conditioning rather than chemical mind control — Bucky likewise was controlled by Hydra using mental conditioning, so we wouldn’t think he would benefit from it. But it’s no doubt something that the remnants of SHIELD would want either way.
But we don’t know. Hopefully we won’t have to wait long to find out. But for the time being, it’ll be much more fun to break down the post-credits scene, which features an appearance by a new-ish character who looks to be pretty important to the big picture of the MCU.