Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury was one of the earliest world-building elements of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Having first appeared in Iron Man, the character went on to be seen in several other projects as he gathered the Avengers together for the first time. While Fury will next pop up in the Disney+ series Secret Invasion, it seems that someone else has gotten the knack for piecing together their own team in the meantime: Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Val.
The character first appeared in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, where she came up to Wyatt Russell’s U.S. Agent after his brutal international incident. Despite that, Val seems pretty set on his involvement with whatever she’s piecing together.
So what’s her deal? Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has, at the least, confirmed how “she seems to be in recruitment mode”—but for what? And, in a way, could she be replacing Nick Fury’s former role within the MCU?
Now, thanks to a new artbook for Anthony Mackie’s recent series, in which she made her first appearance, a big-time Marvel producer commented on just that.
Replacing Nick Fury with Julia Louis Dreyfus' Val
The new book, Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: The Art of the Series, was recently released, and in it, executive producer Nate Moore commented on Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Val and her place in the MCU.
When it came to casting Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, Moore noted how “when [they] thought of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, there was a fun energy to her,” one which helped make her “not the same as Nick Fury:”
"The Countess Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is a character that has a rich publication history… and to some degree, figuring out who can fill those shoes, which in our mind is in a way taking the reins from Nick Fury, was tough. But when we thought of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, there was a fun energy to her that immediately you realize this person has a weight and a gravity, but they're not the same as Nick Fury. It's a completely different energy.”
The producer confirmed that Marvel Studios is aiming for Val to be “a new leader… in the Marvel Cinematic Universe:”
“There's a snark to the character that I think sets her apart from what's come before. And yet you still feel like she commands the room. So if you're talking about a new leader, to some degree, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we were very lucky to find Julia Louis-Dreyfus."
What Will be the Product of Val’s Leadership?
So what exactly is Val up to? Well, the obvious answer would be the recently announced Thunderbolts project. While no details about the project are available just yet, The Suicide Squad-esque adventure could see the likes of John Walker, Yelena Belova, Zemo, and more for their own band of merry supers.
But how does it all relate to Nick Fury and his role in the MCU? Samuel L Jackson’s character has been oddly absent from the proceedings as of late, something even the man himself is a little confused by.
While fans don’t know how his next adventure, Secret Invasion, will play out, could it end by giving Fury a nice position up in space? Perhaps he’s forced to come back to Earth when he starts to learn of Val’s messy shenanigans.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is now streaming on Disney+, and Secret Invasion is likely to hit the streaming service sometime during the beginning of 2023.