Falcon and The Winter Soldier has finally revealed the big cameo that has been talked up for weeks. Now, a new report suggests that the character was originally set to appear earlier in a delayed Marvel project – which hints at an exciting, all-encompassing future for the mysterious new arrival.
Spoilers for Falcon and The Winter Soldier episode 5 follow. You have been warned!
Vanity Fair reports that Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ turn as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine in the most recent episode was not the original plan for her debut. Instead, the Contessa was set to appear in Black Widow, the standalone movie that once marked the beginning of Marvel Phase 4 before its delay.
It’s unclear if she’ll still factor into the prequel – or even if Valentina, who has previously gone by the name Madame Hydra in the comics, would have bridged things to the MCU present-day in a post-credits scene – but Marvel apparently has "even bigger ambitions" for her character.
Signs point to her either setting up the Thunderbolts, a motley crew of Suicide Squad-style anti-heroes designed to do the dirty work the Avengers won’t touch, or Marvel's positioning her as an anti-Nick Fury.
Given the character’s comic book ties to both Hydra and a shadowy organization by the name of Leviathan, it’s not a stretch to suggest she’s collecting super-powered villains – such as John Walker – to do her bidding.
Where will the Contessa rock up in high heels next? The smart money is on Black Widow, set for theaters and on Disney Plus via its Premiere Access range on July 9, but expect this to be the first tentative steps in a plan that could set up the MCU’s next Big Bad – or an entire group of them.
Catch up on the MCU so far with our guide on how to watch the Marvel movies in order.