This article contains frank discussions of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 5 titled “Truth.” If you’re not caught up, now is the time to leave.
In one of the better-kept secrets in Marvel’s history, eleven-time Emmy award-winning actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus made her surprise MCU debut as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine in the penultimate episode of The Falcon and the Winter Solider and emerges as a potential Big Bad of Marvel’s second TV series. 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.
Both Marvel producer Nate Moore and head writer Malcolm Spellman hyped up Episode 5 as the one they believed would get fans talking — and they weren’t wrong. And though she has kept her new pivotal role in the Marvel universe a secret long after she was meant to debut in Black Widow, Louis-Dreyfus couldn’t help but tease her new gig in an interview she gave to Vanity Fair back in 2019. To be more precise, Veep co-star Tony Hale and showrunner David Mandel were really the ones who couldn’t keep a lid on their excitement.
When asked what Louis-Dreyfus should do next, Hale said: “Selina was so atrocious, but then you loved her at the same time. And I think that makes a really good Disney villain.” It was Mandel, specifically, who suggested she might play a Marvel villain. Louis-Dreyfus had no choice but to play along saying: “Swinging around on wires and kicking people in the face…shooting fire out of whatever you shoot fire out of. I would dig that.”
Dreyfus’s Contessa may not exactly be the swinging around on wires type, but she has a lot of potential in the MCU. From Falcon and the Winter Soldier context clues, it’s not a stretch to assume that Louis-Dreyfus might also be taking on the comic book role of the Power Broker. In the comics, Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine has gone by many names but one that carries the most potential in this context is Madame Hydra. Then again, a number of women have had that title.
Her comic book origin, which has her transforming from one of the Italian jet-setting elite to a secret agent, could explain Louis-Dreyfus’s appearance in Black Widow. (That is, if Marvel still plans to include her in that film after all of this release date shuffling.) On the page, Madame Hydra is eventually revealed as a Russian sleeper agent which could mean that in the MCU she will have trained at the same Soviet program that produced Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff and Florence Pugh’s Yelena Bolova.
There have been a lot of conjectures that Marvel may be slowly rolling out its own version of the comic book super-team of antagonists: The Thunderbolts. Given that Julia Louis-Dreyfus rolled up to this episode of The Falcon and the Winter Solider like an evil Nick Fury handing out business cards and advising John Walker to come when she calls, might we see Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine assembling The Thunderbolts? Might her Black Widow appearance be a post-credits recruitment of Yelena à la Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury’s stinger in the first Iron Man?
Another intriguing comic book-inspired wrinkle is that on the page Louis-Dreyfus is a love interest for Nick Fury. She was also the leader of something called the “Femme Force,” an all-female assault team with none other than Sharon Carter as its first leader.
As for other characters named Madame Hydra, they have ruled over Madripoor (sound familiar?) and run terrorist organizations (check). Louis-Dreyfus is an ideal choice for Marvel’s next long-running villain if, indeed, that will be her role in the franchise. Marvel chief Kevin Feige is notoriously fond of mining TV comedies for talent and no other villain has had more success in the MCU than the snarkily charming Loki played by Tom Hiddleston.
Marvel also seems to be making up for lost time when it comes to having female antagonists in its franchise. Feige spent years and years not being able to get planned female villains for films like Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 3 past Marvel’s conservative executive board. But just in the past few years, with more overall control at Marvel, Feige and his team have roped in top-tier talent like Cate Blanchett and Kathryn Hahn to take on the Big Bad positions in Marvel film and television. If what I’m hearing is correct, Julia Louis-Dreyfus will be cropping up in the MCU for some time to come.
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