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[This story contains spoilers for Hawkeye episode four.]
In Black Widow’s mid-credits scene, Yelena, the breakout character played by Florence Pugh, was put on the trail of Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton/Hawkeye, teeing up multi-episode arc on the Renner-fronted Disney+ show that began this week.
When Marvel added that scene, the Hawkeye team was already writing Yelena into their show after head writer Jonathan Igla lobbied to include her in the series. One day, Igla got word from Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige that Black Widow would include a post-credit scene leading into Hawkeye, but he had to keep that to himself to preserve the secret as long as possible.
“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,” Igla tells The Hollywood Reporter. “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 a while.”
It turns out that secrecy was a two-way street. The ramifications of the scene were also kept from Black Widow screenwriter Eric Pearson. He was told to write a scene in which Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) puts Yelena on the hunt for Clint Barton, but was not told why.
“They told me, ‘and then at the end, this is the target.’ And I was like, ‘What does that mean?’ They were like, ‘Don’t worry about it. You don’t have to know that,'” Pearson told THR in July. “I was like, ‘Who am I screwing over? Something is going on! I don’t have an answer for this.’ They were like, ‘You don’t need to. We are going to figure that out.’ “
Pearson even had some guilt, telling THR: “I remember writing it and feeling super guilty. ‘I hope whatever writer is working on this next chapter is going to be OK with what I’ve done to them.”
Igla, however, assures that Pearson has nothing to feel guilty about.
“I had made the case to Kevin and Lou [D’Esposito] and Victoria [Alonso] 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.”
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