This article contains spoilers for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 5.
Both WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier had big cameos in store during their fifth episodes, but unlike WandaVision’s Evan Peters reveal, which ultimately proved to be no more important to the MCU than a boner joke, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s surprise introduction of Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine will have much more of an impact on the future of the MCU – and we may see her again very soon after the series ends.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus Joins the MCU
The multi-multi-awarded Seinfeld and Veep actress marched into The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on booted heel with recruitment on her mind in episode 5 like a troublesome female Nick Fury (more on that in a bit) leaving a disgraced John Walker – now well on his way to becoming the morally muddy U.S. Agent of Marvel Comics – largely baffled by the circumstances in which he could meet her again. However, he almost certainly will, as this won’t be the last time we see Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine.
According to reports, it wasn’t even supposed to be the first time we met the Contessa: Louis-Dreyfus was originally set to make her entrance in Marvel’s much-delayed Black Widow prequel movie, which takes place in a post-Captain America: Civil War but pre-Avengers: Infinity War stage of the MCU timeline.
Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine
Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine has had a tumultuous history in Marvel Comics over the years, and we currently only have a little information to speculate on what her endgame might be. As we know, Marvel also has a tendency to mash a few bits of a character together and sprinkle in some new ones when creating a hero or villain for its movies and TV shows, so we suspect she might have facets of the Contessa’s history mixed in with some fresh lore that links her to previously-established organizations and characters.
The Contessa was created by Jim Steranko and first appeared in 1967’s Strange Tales #159. Formerly one of the Euro jet set but apparently looking for something more meaningful to do with her life, she trained as a SHIELD agent, and soon became very romantically involved with Nick Fury. Fingers crossed, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Samuel L. Jackson’s Fury will soon be some sharing screen time, with Moonlighting-esque banter and sexual tension to spare.
Eventually, Val became so wicked-good at her job that she fought for leadership over SHIELD’s ‘Femme Force’ with Sharon Carter. But of course, it’s rare that a surprisingly skilled Marvel Comics character doesn’t have a murky past to dig up, and the Contessa was no different: it turned out that she had been a Russian sleeper agent all along. If this history plays out on screen, it’s just a short hop, skip, and jump to a Natasha Romanoff connection in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Similarly, the idea of Val as a “sleeper agent” happened yet again in the comics, when she turned out to be one of the many Marvel characters who were temporarily replaced by Skrulls. Keep in mind that there’s a Nick Fury-centric Secret Invasion series on the way to Disney+, so perhaps we’ll see some form of this story in the MCU.
At one point, Val also secretly joined Hydra, becoming one of a few characters to identity as “Madame Hydra,” but whether she’s playing a version of Madame Hydra in the MCU or not, it’s likely that Louis-Dreyfus is at least a more shadowy form of the Contessa here, what with her intention to recruit our violent ex-Captain America and all. Who would she hope to recruit in Black Widow? We shall have to wait and see if JLD’s Contessa even makes the cut in a pandemic-rejigged release of the film first.
The Thunderbolts or the Dark Avengers?
Regardless, it seems that Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine intends to put together a team, much like Nick Fury initially drew the Avengers together under his leadership. She’s here to try and recruit John Walker (this is a promising sign that Marvel still has plans for Wyatt Russell down the line), and we imagine she’ll do the same for one of the shady characters in Black Widow.
However, this superpowered crew will likely do things that the Avengers would not – like savagely murder a man in public while the world watches. It’s worth noting that John Walker had ties to both the Dark Avengers and the Thunderbolts in the comics, and Black Widow villain Taskmaster was a Thunderbolts member. With the Contessa’s arrival here, it seems like these threads may begin to converge.
Will this twisted future MCU team-up become the Dark Avengers? Are the Contessa’s plans linked to the upcoming Nick Fury-led Secret Invasion series? Or are we witnessing the Thunderbolts – a team once led by none other than Baron Zemo – assemble in Phase 4?
We can’t wait to find out.
The finale of Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will be streaming on Disney+ from April 23. Black Widow will be released on July 9.