Black Panther: Wakanda Forever's surprise [spoiler] cameo, explained

Tenoch Huerta as Namor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever isn't quite as packed with Marvel cameos as some of the other movies in the series, but it still brings in a surprise face or two. One in particular could have major repercussions for the MCU going forward – and that's what we're delving into here. 

It should go without saying, but major Black Panther: Wakanda Forever spoilers follow! Turn back now if you haven't seen the movie yet! For everyone else, keep reading for a deep dive into who that returning character is and what their appearance in the movie means. 

Who is Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Val in Black Panther 2?

Black Widow post-credits

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus returns as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, AKA Val, in Wakanda Forever. Her presence in the film was a closely guarded secret until its release. In Wakanda Forever, we find out Val is the new Director of the CIA– and she's also the ex-wife of Martin Freeman's Everett Ross. 

Tensions rise between Wakanda and the US across the film. The US believes Wakanda to be behind attacks on a diving expedition looking for Vibranium, as well as the clash with the FBI in Massachusetts – the truth is that Talokan attacked the divers and were involved in the Massachusetts fight, but Ramonda is committed to keeping the undersea nation a secret. 

Ross secretly contacts Wakanda throughout the movie, but, eventually, Val reveals that she knew they were in touch all along. Val arrests Ross, but not before sinisterly saying she dreams that the US was the only country with access to Vibranium. 

But what does her cameo mean? Val was first introduced in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which saw her recruit John Walker to her shadowy cause. She then popped up again in the Black Widow post-credits scene to send Yelena Belova after Hawkeye, though Yelena eventually sided against killing the Avenger. All signs point to Val setting up the Thunderbolts, a team of reformed villains and anti-heroes who are set to get their own movie in Marvel Phase 5. The team's line-up consists of Yelena, Red Guardian, Taskmaster, US Agent, Ghost, and Bucky Barnes, with Val overseeing things. 

With Val now in such a position of power in the MCU – and clearly still a shady figure – the stage is gradually being set for the Thunderbolts movie. It seems the team will be government-sanctioned, considering Val is head of the CIA, but beyond that, it's difficult to predict what the future has in store for Val or the Thunderbolts. 

In the meantime, though, Val and the US seem intent on bringing a fight to Wakanda for the nation's Vibranium, with the President even said to be considering offensive action against the country. That storyline will most likely be picked up again in a potential Black Panther 3. 

For more on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and the wider Marvel universe, check out our guides to:

Molly Edwards
Entertainment Writer

I'm an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things film and TV for the site's Total Film and SFX sections. I previously worked on the Disney magazines team at Immediate Media, and also wrote on the CBeebies, MEGA!, and Star Wars Galaxy titles after graduating with a BA in English.