In the wake of the hit series WandaVision, the Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan-led adventure thriller, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier — directed by Kari Skogland — debuted with the eyes of the world watching. The series — which follows Mackie’s Sam Wilson/Falcon and Stan’s Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier in a post-Thanos world — exceeded expectations, going on to dominate the streaming world and outperforming the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) sitcom-style television show. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier also brought back fan-favorite Sharon Carter/Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp) and Daniel Brühl’s Helmut Zemo.
What connects Marvel’s first foray into the television streaming world, despite both being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is the hype-train that rides alongside them. You might recall the viral level of anticipation following the weekly rumors of an unexpected WandaVision cameo — which ultimately turned out to be Paul Bettany playing opposite himself, much to the annoyance of some fans. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier hasn’t been completely innocent here either. Each new interview from the cast or creative team seems to hint at one groundbreaking reveal or another.
Recently, Wyatt Russell — the world’s new Captain America, John Walker –– teased a potential cameo from the original star-spangled hero, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans). This comes in the aftermath of Russell defending his take on Captain America after fans universally rejected him, with some even going on to make viral memes that the Marvel actor saw and reacted to. Creator, writer and showrunner, Malcolm Spellman, also hinted at a big Episode 5 (“Truth”) cameo earlier in the month. saying that he could see this “grounded character” working with Thor at some point in the MCU’s future.
Well, Episode 5 finally came around under the watchful eye of Marvel fans everywhere and that big cameo was finally revealed. In an episode filled with emotional moments that pushed the story into a new direction, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is heading towards a climatic conclusion that could change the MCU forever.
WARNING — The Falcon and the Winter Soldier spoilers below
The first half of the episode saw the aftermath of John Walker’s terrible display of power, as he took revenge on Karli Morgenthau’s (Erin Kellyman) Flag-Smashers after the death of his friend Lemar Hoskins/Battlestar (Clé Bennett). The desecration of the Captain America’s shield — which stands as a symbol of hope after the legacy of Steve Rogers — not only shocked the characters of The Falcon and the Winter Solder, but shocked fans across the world. In a cinematic fight between Walker, Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson, the true desperation of Walker’s identity to be the next Captain America really shone through.
Following his return to the United States of America, John Walker is seen to be let go of his Captain America status and discharged from military service. It all seemed to be going downhill for Walker until a surprising new character entered the fold. Valentina Allegra de Fontaine played by Emmy award winner and Veep star, Julia Louis-Dreyfus AKA one of the most decorated actresses in television history, seemed to offer Walker some kind of mysterious offer.
Per Vanity Fair, Louis-Dreyfus’ character was meant to appear in Marvel’s Scarlett Johannson-led feature Black Widow (2021):
According to sources close to the production, Louis-Dreyfus was slated to first appear in the Black Widow film which, in a pre-Covid world, was scheduled to debut in theaters May 1, 2020. But Marvel, reportedly, has even bigger ambitions for Louis-Dreyfus’s villainous figure.
The cameo came amidst an emotionally-charged episode which saw Sam’s and Bucky’s friendship develop, a Sam Wilson training montage worthy of Rocky, Bucky helping out on Sam’s family boat and the first post-credits scene to come from the show.
With any anticipated cameo, the internet was ready to discuss. Twitter user @photonsblast was shocked to see an infamous comic-book villain make her on-screen debut.
JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS’ CHARACTER IS MADAME HYDRA!?!? OH MY GOD IS SHE ANOTHER VILLAIN??
Another tweet, from @CAPSTRIIO, said:
marvel snatched up julia louis-dreyfus fr [for real] I’M SHOOK
Another fan was quick to share their view of Valentina Allegra de Fontaine’s MCU debut. Bork R. (@Bork_22) tweeted:
“Was that it” bruh if you don’t know who Julia Louis-Dreyfus is and how badass it is she’s in the MCU, that’s on YOU, not the show
However, not all Marvel fans were as enthused to see the Seinfeld and SNL star’s cameo. A tweet from @infinitykeigo said:
Apparently the surprise cameo that was supposed to have us all hyped was Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character
Replying to the disappointed tweet, another fan, Matt J. (@JuckettMatt), said they were let down by Louis-Dreyfus’s appearance in the episode.
Idek [I don’t even know] who that is, I think madame hydra but still a let down
Idek who that is, I think madame hydra but still a let down
— Matt Juckett (@JuckettMatt) April 16, 2021
Whenever a hotly anticipated cameo is hyped for any movie or television show, it is sure to draw scrutiny from fans. But, when it’s Marvel Studios, it brings forth a level of expectation that isn’t easily matched. We’ve had our fair share of exciting cameos in the past year and not just from Marvel. Star Wars revealed a young CGI Luke Skywalker at the end of The Mandalorian Season 2 much to the delight of fans.
Whoever appears after all the speculation and talk will surely polarise fans, and Louis-Dreyfuss’ appearance as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine — a Marvel triple agent — has definitely caused that reaction.
Let’s take a look at who “Madame Hydra” is.
Who is Valentina Allegra de Fontaine?
The official Marvel biography describes de Fontaine as:
The woman who become known as Countess Valentina Allegra de Fontaine learned the intricacies of the spy world at a young age from her parents, and would later go on to become a formidable triple agent for international spy and terrorist organizations.
Despite her perceived dedication to S.H.I.E.L.D. and later Hydra, Valentina is a triple agent, loyal to one organization: Leviathan. She ultimately helps Leviathan’s leader Vasili Dassaiev, AKA Magadan, recover the ability to create superhumans and revive his fallen brother Viktor Uvarov, AKA Orion, who once revived assumes command against their foes S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra.
What could her appearance mean for the MCU?
Due to her interwoven link with organisations like Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D, de Fontaine’s entry into the MCU could be huge, especially with her reported appearance in the upcoming Black Widow.
Her history in the Marvel comics ties her to a multitude of characters including Fantastic Four’s Victor Von Doom AKA the villainous scientist Doctor Doom, and Matt Murdock’s Daredevil. As more character rights return to Marvel Studios, including the Fantastic Four and Daredevil, the trajectory for Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character could go anywhere in the universe, appearing in any movie or television show. Her link to Leviathan — a deep science and espionage agency — could also see a link off-world to organisations like S.W.O.R.D, which played a huge role in WandaVision.
And with such a celebrated actress taking the reins of de Fontaine, it is pretty much clear that Kevin Feige and Marvel has big plans for this interesting triple agent.
Were you shocked to see Valentina Allegra de Fontaine in the latest episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier?