Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 ending explained: Who is Makarov?

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was officially released today, but many fans have been able to play through the campaign for a week now, likely finishing it to completion. If you played the campaign through its entirety and watched the post-credits scene, then you may be wondering who Makarov is.

For those new to the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series — maybe these reboots are your first experience with them — then you’re probably not familiar with who Makarov is. But for longtime fans, he’s quite familiar.

Before we continue, let me first issue the standard spoiler warning. If you’ve not beaten Modern Warfare 2’s campaign yet, you might want to leave.

So first, let’s recap the ending and post-credits scene. Following their mission, Soap, Price, Gaz, Laswell, and Ghost are at a bar and the talk shifts to how the Russian ultranationalists are working with “someone new.”  A photograph is exchanged and it’s revealed the man in it is Makarov.

Fast forward to the post-credits scene, and we see two passengers on a plane putting together a pistol that they had snuck on in individual pieces. One of the terrorists picks up the phone and responds to a message from someone who goes by “M.” They receive the message “No Russian” before destroying the phone and presumably enacting their plan.

Vladimir Makarov is the main antagonist of the original Modern Warfare subseries. He’s the protege of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare antagonist Imran Zakhaev and the leader of an Ultranationalist Terrorist cell known as the Inner Circle. He’s the main mastermind behind everything bad in the original Modern Warfare series, including the start of World War III which was kicked off with the infamous “No Russian” mission.

In the original Modern Warfare 2, “No Russian” was a controversial mission revolving around Army Ranger PFC, Joseph Allen, working as an undercover CIA asset in an attempt to gain the trust of the Russian terrorist, Vladimir Makarov. The mission sparked great controversy for letting players directly participate in a terrorist attack, murdering hundreds of innocent civilians at Zakhaev International Airport.

But the mission serves as an important event in Modern Warfare 2’s campaign. In the end, Makarov kills Allen and leaves the body behind as a way to pin the attack on the United States.

In the newest Modern Warfare 2 game, this post-credits scene seems to be a new take on the infamous “No Russian” level. It doesn’t appear that we’ll be playing or witnessing the terrorist attack — probably a good call by Activision given the current climate of the world. But the sentiment appears to be the same.

We don’t know how exactly Makarov fits into the updated story in the new Modern Warfare series, but it’s almost certain that he’ll be the main antagonist of the next game. The events of the original “No Russian” level ultimately led to a full-scale Russian invasion of mainland America. It’s possible this could also be where the reboot series is headed.

Regardless of how you felt about the campaign as a whole for this latest Modern Warfare game, this was, by far, one of the most iconic callbacks to the original series.