'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier' Surprise Cameo Has a Big Role in Marvel's Future

This week’s episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier delivered a surprise cameo with an Emmy-winning star playing a character from deep within Marvel Comics mythology. This character was originally meant to debut in Marvel’s Black Widow movie, which was originally intended to arrive before The Falcon and The Winter Soldier hit Disney+, but that hasn’t changed the supposed big plans for this new character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since we have to dive into spoiler territory before we say anything else about new addition to the MCU, you’ll have to keep reading to learn more.

Seinfeld and Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus made her debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe this week by waltzing rather noisily into the episode “Truth,” the penultimate episode of the season (series?). She arrives when John Walker (Wyatt Russell) has been stripped of the title of Captain America by the United States government after he violently dispatched an insurgent from the Flag Smashers by bloodily beating him to death with Cap’s shield. So who is this new character?

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is playing Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. Yes, that’s a mouthful, but she’ll only say it once (even though technically she actually says it twice when we meet her). This is a character from the comics who has a long history with Nick Fury and SHIELD, including having a romance with the former head of the defunct government agency. In the Secret Invasion comics, she’s revealed to be a Skrull who was spying on Nick Fury, which may hint at Valentina having a key role in the upcoming Marvel series that will adapt that comic book arc.

Another potentially interesting route for Valentina sees her taking on the mantle of Madame Hydra. In Marvel Comics, when SHIELD is revealed to have been controlled by Hydra all along, Valentina betrays Nick Fury and is revealed working for the formerly Soviet espionage group called Leviathan. Perhaps there’s some kind of adaptation of that character’s comic history in the works, since Vanity Fair learned she was originally meant to appear in Black Widow (and may or may not still be slated for a cameo when the movie arrives later this summer). Maybe Valentina was raised in the same assassin program that gave us Natasha Romanoff as Black Widow.

Madame Hydra has also been known to run various terrorist organizations and rule over Madripoor, so it’s likely no coincidence that this character has arrived in the same series that introduced us to the dangerous Marvel Comics locale. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if Valentina turned out to be the Power Broker we’ve been hearing so much about.

Vanity Fair also points out another interesting theory going around about Valentina secretly assembling the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s iteration of Thunderbolts. The superhero team debuted after The Avengers were believed to be dead, and it was revealed by Baron Zemo that they were actually the villains known as the Masters of Evil in disguise. After having their identities revealed in this act of betrayal, the Thunderbolts still attempted to live up to their new status as superheroes, trying to earn redemption for their time as comic villains. The crazy former Captain America could certainly use that right about now, but based on Valentina’s introduction to the MCU and her lack of history with the team in Marvel Comics, I don’t think she’s looking to have John Walker do some good. So I think we can count the Thunderbolts out of the equation, at least in this form (unless Marvel is playing the long game with them).

No matter what path Julia Louis-Dreyfus will be taking as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, it sounds like she’s going to have a big presence in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Perhaps she’s being set up as the overarching big bad for the upcoming Marvel shows on Disney+, or maybe this is all just a set-up for a second season of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier has one more episode waiting to air on April 23, 2021.

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