Well, we didn’t see that one coming! The penultimate episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier just delivered a surprise character debut that is worth freaking out about. This unexpected arrival teases potentially major things to come in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, at least where one completely disgraced ex-Captain America is concerned.
So, who is this new mover and shaker? And what in the world could their arrival mean? I’m gonna say SPOILER ALERT but, come on, you saw the headline. You know what’s up, so let’s just talk about it already.
Who is Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Falcon and Winter Soldier? Who is Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine?
After a truly abysmal hearing that strips John Walker (Wyatt Russell) of not only his role as Captain America but also all of his rights and benefits as a veteran, in struts eight-time Emmy winning acting legend Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She’s wearing killer heels and a killer coat and has a distinct purple streak in her hair. She’s intense, disarming and intimidating at the same time. She introduces herself as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine which is a w i l d reveal and a big Marvel moment.
Created by Jim Steranko, Valentina Allegra de Fontaine debuted in 1967’s Strange Tales #159, back when the anthology series focused on the super-spy adventures of Nick Fury. She quickly became one of the original A-list S.H.I.E.L.D. characters, and she started a relationship with Nick Fury. De Fontaine remained a major player in S.H.I.E.L.D. for decades, popping up whenever the spy agency would get involved in a story.
Her history remained a mystery for a long time; she was mainly portrayed as a socialite who wanted to do something more with her life—so she joined S.H.I.E.L.D. But it was later revealed in 2009’s Secret Warriors series by Jonathan Hickman, Brian Michael Bendis, and Stefano Caselli that the contessa had been a Russian sleeper agent working at odds with S.H.I.E.L.D. all along. It was in Secret Warriors that Valentina Allegra de Fontaine took on the mantle of Madame Hydra—as in that HYDRA.
Who is Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Well, that’s the mystery! She sits down next to John Walker, casually hands a blank business card to Walker’s wife, and reveals that she knows a lot about this new Cap. She knows he took the serum, she knows he does not have the shield, and she knows that Cap’s shield isn’t even technically government property. Then she tells him that he better pick up the phone when she calls—or else. The “else” is implied but, wow, is it there. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is just a master.
There are lots of angles that the MCU’s de Fontaine could be working. She could be an agent of a newly reformed S.H.I.E.L.D. since that agency has been off the radar in the films for seven years (and the TV show has a questionable place in canon now). She could be working for HYDRA, which would make more sense considering how villainous she appears and the fact that, y’know, she specifically wants the Captain America who just decapitated a guy in public. It’s also possible that she’s the mysterious Power Broker, but honestly it seems like that’s probably Sharon Carter after that cryptic scene this week.
There’s also the chance that she’s behind the Thunderbolts program, which is 100% not a thing that has been confirmed or said onscreen, but it really seems like that’s a possibility. A number of major Thunderbolts characters from the comics have been/are being introduced; in the comics, Baron Zemo was their original leader, John Walker was the warden of their prison, Ghost was a member of said prison, and Yelena Belova was a member during the “Dark Reign” era. Zemo and Ghost were introduced in Captain America: Civil War and Ant-Man and the Wasp, respectively. Walker and Belova are new additions to the MCU, with Belova being played by Florence Pugh in this summer’s Black Widow. Also this episode mentions that Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl) is being escorted by the Dora Milaje to the Raft, which is the prison that housed the Thunderbolts criminal rehabilitation program in the comics.
So, are we heading towards a Thunderbolts TV show or movie with Julia Louis-Dreyfus in charge of Daniel Brühl, Florence Pugh, Hannah John-Kamen, and Wyatt Russell? Well, Vanity Fair’s reporting that JLD was originally supposed to debut in Black Widow until COVID upended Marvel’s schedule. So… wow, maybe!
Hopefully we’ll have more answers in next week’s TFATWS finale!
By Brett White | Decider