The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's fifth episode was one of the show's most anticipated. Why? Well, it had been teased by the creatives of the show as the strongest episode of the series. Not only that, but there was a mystery cameo of a brand-new character joining the MCU—with a big-name actor attached to the role.
This anticipated episode finally arrived last week, and it didn't disappoint fans. In a pivotal scene, right after fans see John Walker lose his temper in the courtroom, audiences witnessed none other than Julia Louis-Dreyfus walk down a hallway to greet him. She was interested in his potential and made it known to Walker that she was watching him, and that he should pick up the phone when she calls.
So, who was this mystery character?
It was Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, a morally ambiguous character known for associations with many shady organizations in Marvel Comics. Once upon a time, she was a SHIELD agent who then went over to HYDRA, holding the moniker of Madame Hydra. As it turns out, she was actually a triple agent for a terrorist organization named Leviathan. She's a real slippery character, one that could have a lot of potential within the future of the MCU.
But, how much potential?
IS VALENTINA THE NEW NICK FURY?
In an interview with Marvel.com, both The Falcon and the Winter Soldier executive producer Nate Moore and co-executive producer Zoie Nagelhout discussed Julia Louis-Dreyfus' newly introduced character, Valentina Allegra de Fontaine.
Fans have seen a lot of characters pass through the MCU—especially when it comes to villains. So, what makes Val different? Nate Moore was happy to shed some light on her, saying that "she was sort of a more acerbic, funnier, but darker Nick Fury:"
"Whenever we talked about Valentina, even in the writer's room, she was sort of a more acerbic, funnier, but darker Nick Fury... Someone who knows her secrets, who's not afraid to operate in the moral gray area, but maybe who isn't as inherently altruistic.”
Viewers' first interaction with Val was when she sat down next to a defeated John Walker, offering him a sudden peak of the light at the end of the tunnel. As Zoie Nagelhout puts it, "John is really excited because he is someone who needs to have a purpose:"
"...It's the beginning of something... He needs to feel like he has a place in the world. He needs to feel like he has direction and ambition. There's a catharsis to that [meeting] for him.”
Clearly, Marvel seems to have future plans for the character, and it's something Moore isn't afraid to confirm:
“Having a character like Valentina in the show, and actually in the MCU, is really interesting because I think she'll be making more waves sooner rather than later."
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NICK FURY CONTINUES TO INFLUENCE THE MCU
It's fascinating that Moore and Nagelhout are teasing Valentina as a shadier and corrupt Nicky Fury. The way the two talked about it, they seem to shy away from the term evil, hinting that she won't be an all-out villain—likely more obsessed with her own agenda than straight-up villainy.
That being said, it seems clear that she is being primed for an essential role in upcoming storylines, ones that will probably lead to her butting heads with many heroes.
Back when Iron Man first came out, fans saw Nick Fury for the first time as he started to assemble The Avengers. Now, fans could be getting the opposite of that. The Anti-Avengers, or at least something similar like The Thunderbolts, are essentially Marvel's Suicide Squad. With the team being teased time and time again, it's hard not to think that's exactly what Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is lining up for as audiences head further into Phase 4.
A Nick-Fury-type antagonistic force is something that hasn't yet been seen, and it would be really neat, especially if it does lead to the formation of a team of villains or anti-heroes—or a mix of both.
With so much going on and being set up, it's difficult to see where all the pieces may end up falling. Needless to say, with so many moving parts and plenty more to come, the future of the MCU couldn't be brighter.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's finale will stream on Disney+ on April 23, 2021.