Episode 5 of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier has debuted and we can all stop guessing the identity of the mystery actress and character that we’ve been teasing for over a year and has been the source of quite a lot of buzz since showrunner Malcolm Spellman first teased the appearance several weeks ago. Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, played by 11-time Emmy Award-winning actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, is now in the MCU and unless you’re a pretty dedicated reader of the comics, you might be wondering just who she is. Fortunately for you, we’ve got your back.
First appearing in a couple of panels in 1967’s Nick Fury story in Strange Tales #159, Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine has undergone a few retcons over the years that have made her one of Fury’s most acquaintances. The Contessa made her debut as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who, over the years, had an on-again, off-again relationship with Nick Fury. She has an incredible tactical mind, is a formidable fighter, and became one of Fury’s most trusted allies over the years.
Her story took a turn for the more interesting during the Secret Invasion event and the subsequent Secret Warriors series, written by Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman. Early in the series, Fury meets with a “retired” Val with the hope that after he does one last job, the two of them can finally be together. As the series goes on, Val’s true past is revealed. After joining Hydra as its new Madame Hydra, Val betrays them, joins Leviathan, and reveals that she and her parents were long-term Russian sleeper agents working as plants. She currently resides in a prison somewhere and hasn’t emerged in the comics for some time.
While her comic book story is currently in an interlude, her MCU story could just be getting started and, should the Marvel Studios Parliament wish it to be, could tie into a number of properties old and new. In The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, she’s certainly connected to some big names and helps Walker with his post-Captain America career. If that’s all we see of her, it will have been a nice cameo by a big-time actress in Dreyfus; however, should Dreyfus be open to continuing on with the character, we could see her again very soon. As a friend of Fury, the Contessa could play a role in Secret Invasion, perhaps as an old ally of Fury’s that he thinks he can trust. Perhaps more interestingly, should the MCU writers make her a triple agent, Val’s story could tie into even more projects.
If Leviathan sounds familiar to you, it’s because it has already appeared in MCU continuity in Agent Carter where it had deep ties to the Red Room and the Black Widow program. If she has ties to Leviathan in the MCU, it’s possible she could be referenced or even show up in Black Widow (who knows what they got up to during all these delays). Of course, we also know that Marvel Studios is developing a Secret Warriors project which would be the BEST place for us to see more of JLD as Val. At this point, we’ll have to wait and see what direction they are taking her in the MCU before knowing more but it must be nice for them knowing they have the talents of Louis-Dreyfus on deck whichever way it goes.