Image Source: Getty / Christian Vierig
If there's one thing Marvel knows how to do, it's introduce an important character via cameo. During the fifth episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, we meet Julia Louis-Dreyfus's Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (actually, it's Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine) after John Walker is stripped of the title of Captain America. "You did the right thing, taking the serum," she tells the disgraced super-soldier. "And I'll tell you something, it has made you very, very valuable to certain people." Valentina hands John a seemingly blank card before telling him she'll be in touch, leaving him with the information that Captain America's shield is a "legal gray area." It's clear the character is up to something, and thanks to the comics, we have a couple of ideas.
Louis-Dreyfus initially teased her involvement in the MCU back in a 2019 Vanity Fair interview with Veep showrunner David Mandel. When asked what they'd like to see Louis-Dreyfus take on next, Mandel suggested a Marvel villain. "Swinging around on wires and kicking people in the face . . . shooting fire out of whatever you shoot fire out of. I would dig that," Louis-Dreyfus replied. The character of Valentina was supposed to make her MCU debut with Black Widow, but the COVID-19 schedule shift caused The Falcon and the Winter Soldier to air first. With this Black Widow connection in mind, and the fact Valentina has offered John her card, it's entirely possible that she could be putting together a team called The Thunderbolts.
In the comics, The Thunderbolts are put together by Baron Zemo as a new incarnation of the Masters of Evil. The group masquerades as heroes in disguise before ultimately deciding they no longer want to be villains. Both John Walker and Black Widow's Yelena Belova have ties to The Thunderbolts; Yelena was a member during the Dark Reign arc and John was their prison's warden. It definitely seems like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is tying Valentina to The Thunderbolts, particularly since the Dora Milaje are taking Zemo to the Raft, which is the prison John eventually becomes a warden of. Who else has ties to the Raft? General Thaddeus Ross aka Red Hulk, who eventually becomes the leader of The Thunderbolts and has already been introduced in the MCU.
While Valentina isn't the one to connect the team in the comics, the MCU could be utilizing Louis-Dreyfus as an "evil" counterpart to Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury. In the comics, the two characters became lovers after Valentina joined S.H.I.E.L.D, where she ascended temporarily to the rank of deputy director. She later infiltrates HYDRA, earning the moniker Madame Hydra; though she was actually a triple agent, having worked for Leviathan as a sleeper agent since before her time at S.H.I.E.L.D. If the MCU wants to play up Valentina's S.H.I.E.L.D. connection, she was also a member of an elite group of women operatives known as Femme Force. Another important member of Femme Force is none other than Sharon Carter, who also appears on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier; although it's still to be seen whether or not Sharon is the Power Broker or working for the Power Broker. Regardless of where Valentina's journey is headed in the MCU, we can't wait to see where Louis-Dreyfus takes the role.