Black Widow – Where Was Yelena During Avengers: Infinity War?

What happened to Yelena during the five-year period that saw half of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's characters Snapped? We look at Black Widow for clues...

A close-up of Florence Pugh's face as Yelena in Black Widow
Photo: Marvel

This Black Widow article contains MAJOR spoilers.

In the aftermath of Avengers: Infinity War and the lead up to Avengers: Endgame, one question echoed out across the Marvel Cinematic Universe: who got Snapped, and who stayed?

While the final moments of Infinity War gave us insight into the fates of many an MCU character, not everyone could be included in the movie’s effectively abrupt denouement—and that’s without even considering the MCU characters we had yet to meet. As we head further in Phase 4 and meet characters new to the MCU, the question of individuals’ Snapped-or-not identity comes up as we work to situate heroes, villains, and everyone in-between in this larger universe.

Black Widow‘s Yelena, played with characteristic aplomb by English actress Florence Pugh, is the latest in what is sure to be an ongoing line. Was Yelena Snapped and how might the answer impact her character’s journey moving forward?

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In the MCU prequel (Black Widow takes place between Captain America: Civil War and Infinity War), we meet Natasha’s little sister, who was also taken as a girl and brainwashed into becoming a Soviet assassin through the Black Widow program. Like Natasha, Yelena has been able to counter the psychological “training” that made her into a child killer. By the end of the film, she and Natasha have effectively teamed up with the spies who partially raised them, Alexei and Melina, to take down the Red Room and its child-trafficking leader Dreykov. But it’s in the film’s post-credits scene when things get interesting, connecting Black Widow to the ongoing MCU narrative…

The Black Widow Post-Credits Scene

In the post-credits sequence, we see Yelena visiting Natasha’s grave, signaling that the scene takes place after Natasha’s death in Avengers: Endgame and, therefore, after the people who were Snapped are returned to the universe. It’s here, if anywhere, we get clues into Yelena’s Snapped-or-not status.

While there are no definitive statements either way to confirm if Yelena was Snapped or not, it seems likely that Yelena was Snapped. This would certainly be easier for the MCU, in terms of explaining why we didn’t see Yelena hanging with Natasha in the first half of Endgame. Narratively, the Snap is an effective way of not having to work out the off-screen journey of many MCU characters.

Perhaps it is important that Black Widow doesn’t confirm nor deny Yelena’s Snap status because it leaves the franchise the option to go either way. Should the Black Widow movie do well financially and Marvel decides to greenlight another Widow-centric movie, it could ostensibly be set during the five-year time jump that takes place in the Endgame first act. If Yelena wasn’t Snapped, she could have been one of the people Natasha relied on to keep the Avengers initiative running.

In Endgame, we see Natasha holding everything together, checking in with Carol, Rocket, Okoye, Nebula, and Rhodes from her lonely headquarters in the New Avengers Facility. It’s not hard to imagine Natasha having similar calls with Yelena, the sisters working to help people vulnerable in a post-Snap reality.

Yelena Was Probably Snapped

The biggest clue that Yelena was indeed Snapped, however, is the fact that she doesn’t seem to know who Hawkeye is when Valentina gives Yelena his file and calls him the person responsible for Natasha’s death. If Yelena wasn’t Snapped, it seems likely that Natasha would have told her sister about best friend Clint Barton, especially as Natasha was so worried about Clint. No doubt Natasha would have asked Yelena for help keeping tabs on Clint as he committed global killing sprees.

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There isn’t enough of a reaction in the Black Widow post-credits scene to confirm that Yelena doesn’t recognize Clint—after all, Yelena is a professional—but the scene’s apparent purpose is to set-up a plot that sees Yelena going after Clint. Sure, she could go see Clint to let him know Valentina is after him, but that doesn’t sound like the MCU choice, does it?

If the Marvel Powers That Be haven’t yet decided if Yelena was Snapped or not, can I put a vote in for “no?” If Yelena was Snapped, this adds yet another tragic twist to the Natasha-Yelena relationship, which is already a thoroughly depressing and heartbreaking story. If Yelena were Snapped, then Natasha would have had to live those five years without seeing her sister—which is particularly upsetting because they were only just reunited in Black Widow, just prior to the events that would lead to Thanos’ Snap. For two characters who have been forced to endure such trauma, I would like to imagine this as a period of relative happiness together.