The way the Marvel Cinematic Universe works, one hand is constantly feeding the other, but that doesn’t mean the creative team working on two separate projects always know what their counterparts are doing.
Take Hawkeye, for instance, with lead writer Jonathan Igla admitting from the very beginning that he’d always planned to include Yelena Belova in the Disney Plus series. The only problem was that Black Widow‘s post-credits scene hadn’t even been written yet, which saw the studio ask the movie’s scribe Eric Pearson to add a coda that links the prequel to Clint Barton’s New York City adventure, except nobody would tell him why.
Once the stinger was added into the screenplay, Igla was informed by Marvel that Black Widow had teed up Yelena’s return in Hawkeye, except he revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that he wasn’t allowed to speak about it to anyone, even as he and his team feverishly worked on hammering his episodic streaming exclusive into shape.
“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. 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 awhile. 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. Obviously, the rest of the writing staff knew we were building pitches around her as soon as I got the thumbs up.”
In the end, everybody got what they wanted; the fans that fell in love with Yelena found out she’d be back on their screens in a matter months, Black Widow ties directly into Hawkeye, and Igla got his wish to use the assassin as part of his narrative, so it was a job well done.