The following contains spoilers for Episode Five of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, so stop reading now if you haven’t yet seen it.
The calendar shuffles of the major movie studios affected several significant release dates, but when it came to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the moves also directly affected plots. The MCU is interconnected, even if it isn’t telling a larger-scale story like The Infinity Saga, so characters that we meet in certain movies or shows might have an effect on stories that will play out later. Case in point: Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine who just introduced herself to disgraced Captain America John Walker (Wyatt Russell) in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
This is a significant hire for Marvel Studios, on the surface. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a brilliant actress, highly decorated for her work on Seinfeld and Veep, and Valentina (Val for short) has played several villainous roles in Marvel Comics over the years, usually under Nick Fury but sometimes for HYDRA. However, after the episode dropped, Vanity Fair reported that Louis-Dreyfus was supposed to have her MCU debut in Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow movie… but then that film kept getting delayed.
Contessa Valentina has had a rich and varied history in the Marvel comics, and has been associated with groups like S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA. Based on the news that she was meant to be introduced in Black Widow, we are wondering if she’s linked somehow to the Soviet program that trained Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) and her sister, Yelena (Florence Pugh), to be assassins.
Or, and this is possible also, is she an associate of General Thaddius “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt), a power broker who has been part of the MCU narrative since being introduced back in The Incredible Hulk?
We know that Ross is in Black Widow, and we know that Widow is a prequel, taking place shortly after the events of Captain America: Civil War. If Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character has been on the scene since that point, then it’s very possible that she was working for Ross, and that Ross might also be The Power Broker, a behind-the-scenes manipulator in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Ross seems like someone who would be able to convince Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) to work for him. Ross also seems like the kind of person who’d want John Walker at his disposal, given his fascination with the super soldier serum.
Now we’re left to wonder if we will see this new character in the final episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier next week, and if Black Widow is leaving Julia Louis-Dreyfus in its scenes. Thankfully, we don’t have to wait too long to find that out, as the movie opens on July 9.