New commentary on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever explains why certain scenes with Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine) were deleted from the final cut.
Louis-Dreyfus made her first appearance in the MCU as Val in Falcon and the Winter Soldier, followed soon thereafter by Black Widow.
Then, after more than a year of radio silence from the character (though an announcement that she would be a key player in the Phase 5-ending Thunderbolts film), she came back in 2022's Black Panther sequel.
She only played in a few scenes, revealing her to have been married to Everett Ross at one point, but her role in the film was not insignificant to fans.
Turns out, according to director Ryan Coogler and other members of the behind-the-scenes crew of Wakanda Forever, more with the character was filmed, but not included in the final cut. Now, fans know why.
Why Less Val in Black Panther 2?
In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever's Director Commentary it was revealed that "tons" of scenes with Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine) were filmed for the MCU sequel, but many were cut from the final movie.
This new information comes according to director Ryan Coogler, co-writer Joe Robert Cole, and cinematographer Autumn Durald Arkapaw, who discussed Louis-Dreyfus and a couple of the scenes she appeared in.
When discussing the first scene to feature Val, Coogler revealed that "tons" of versions of that scene were filmed, many of which were "too funny for the movie:"
Cole: “How many different versions of the dialogue in this scene did we have?”
Coogler: “In this one? Oh, boy. (laughs) Man, tons. Tons, man. Big shout-out to Joe. And then I got to work with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, which is awesome. She’s a lovely woman. Crazy funny. Some of the stuff she would do was too funny for the movie. I can’t… (laughs) Man.”
Regarding the scene in which Val and Ross are talking in the latter's car, Coogler, Cole, and Arkapaw revealed that a setting for the scene was at one point "a garage," but that in the end "it’s so much better outside:"
Cole: “I feel like we had this in the garage at one point. (laughs) Bro, there was like, all sorts of, like… This conversation.”
Arkapaw: “It was in a garage.”
Coogler: “It was. Yeah, I wasn’t–”
Arkapaw: “It wan’t supposed to be.”
Coogler: “Yeah, it was in a garage, and we moved it outside. And Autumn got mad at me.”
Arkapaw: “I was waiting for you to bring that up.”
Coogler: “I think I moved it at the last second. She was like, ‘Dude, we rigged this whole thing. What are you doing?’ I’m like, ‘I think I’ll put it outside.’ She’s like, ‘I’m going to kill you.’
Arkapaw: “But it’s so much better outside.”
Coogler: “It came out good.”
Arkapaw: “And so much better outside. And I could not see it that day.”
A Comedic Villain(?) in Phase 5
Despite now making appearances in three MCU projects, Val is still a relatively mysterious character for the MCU. Comic fans are familiar with her, but it is unknown how much of her comics origin and background will be adapted into the MCU moving forward.
The commentary from Coogler, Cole, and Arkapaw indicates that there is potential for Val to continue being a comedic character as well as a serious, mission-driven one in future appearances. Given that Louis-Dreyfus plays her, this does not come as much of a surprise as the actress is known for comedic performances in Seinfeld and Veep, to name a couple.
But aside from what fans have learned from the character directly, and this new information about Wakanda Forever, not much is known about how Val will fit into the larger MCU.
In fact, fans do not even know if she will be a villain, or take on more of an anti-hero or even hero role. This was a statement echoed by Louis-Dreyfus herself, adding to the mystery of this character.
Fans know to expect to see Val in the 2024 Thunderbolts film, but perhaps she will appear and continue to make audiences laugh before that. While some of her comedy was "too funny" for the more serious Wakanda Forever, other projects will let her comedic talent shine in the MCU like never before.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is streaming now on Disney+.