The Falcon and the Winter Soldier finale teased the new super-team being put together by Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), but which team is the question. In the wake of Thanos’ defeat in Avengers: Endgame, the MCU has lacked a clear overarching story for Phase 4 and beyond. Val could be a big part of the next major story arc, especially if her plans to assemble a new team come to fruition.
In the comics, Val is a secret HYDRA sleeper agent who rises through the ranks of SHIELD, even becoming romantically involved with its director, Nick Fury, for a time. A skilled combatant and brilliant strategist, the Contessa fought on the side of good through many major battles, though her dark allegiances eventually led her back to the bad guys. After a time operating under the title Madame Hydra, Val was arrested and imprisoned for her various duplicitous schemes.
Val’s role in the MCU, however, has yet to be fully revealed. Because both SHIELD and HYDRA are effectively extinct in Phase 4, the character is likely being adapted as part of a new story. She’ll be a major player in the franchise going forward, but what’s been revealed so far is already quite intriguing. Primarily, Val seems interested in assembling a super-team of dubious loyalty – a mission that becomes clear after she recruits John Walker to her cause.
The Contessa Is Building A Team
After John Walker’s discharge from the U.S. military, he’s immediately contacted by Contessa Valentina and invited to join up with her for an undisclosed future mission. At the end of the show, she meets with Walker again, this time providing a brand-new suit and superhero name – U.S. Agent. At this later meeting, the Contessa makes a curious statement about how things are about to get “weird,” suggesting she knows a lot that she’s not saying. She tells Walker to be ready for that day, and to pick up the phone when she calls him.
All of these clues point in one direction – Val is assembling a secret super-team of her own. It’s unlikely that Walker is the first person she’s contacted, and with so many Marvel characters yet to enter the MCU, there are lots of new faces who could show up down the line. The biggest questions now are, what team is Val building, why is she doing it, and whether they’ll fall on the side of good or evil. With luck, it won’t be too long before those questions are answered.
Who Is The Contessa Working For?
As of the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it’s unclear who the Contessa is working for, if anyone. Her comics history with SHIELD and HYDRA could be incorporated retroactively into her MCU character, but even if they are, that wouldn’t explain her current motivations and allegiances. She clearly has high-level government clearance, which suggests she could be working as some sort of top-secret operative with relatively little oversight, like Nick Fury. In fact, given their history together in the comics, Val could be working with Fury in the MCU.
The known future of Phase 4 could support that theory. The next major MCU crossover event will be the Secret Invasion limited series – one of the most famous storylines from recent Marvel comics. That arc revolves around the shapeshifting Skrulls, a few of whom have been in league with Fury in the MCU for some time. Val’s reference to things getting weird could easily be an allusion to the events of Secret Invasion. If she’s working for or with Fury, Val could be building a team to prepare for invasion. If her allegiances are darker, like to the remnants of HYDRA, the Skrull Empire, or some unseen MCU villain, she may have darker plans.
Every Hint Val Is Building The Thunderbolts
Because Secret Invasion is on its way, it’s possible that Val is in the process of assembling the MCU’s version of the Thunderbolts. In the comics, the Thunderbolts are a team of villains brought together by Baron Zemo, who rebrands himself and the other members as heroes to gain the trust of the public and the government, all with nefarious ends in mind. However, over time, the team begins to appreciate working on the side of good, and the Thunderbolts becomes a proper superhero squad.
The Thunderbolts are a likely choice for Val’s MCU team for several reasons. John Walker wasn’t a true member of the group in the comics, but he has fought alongside them before. The Thunderbolts also play a major role in the Secret Invasion story, so setting them up in the MCU beforehand would make sense. Zemo’s return to prominence in Falcon & Winter Soldier also sets him up to play a role in the group’s formation, though due to how the MCU has changed his characters, that role would likely be quite different.
Every Hint Val Is Building The Dark Avengers
Another likely choice for Val’s super-team is the Dark Avengers – the group the Thunderbolts are morphed into after Secret Invasion. Notably more villainous than the Thunderbolts were, the Dark Avengers are led by Norman Osborne in the comics, who gains immense power due to his seemingly heroic deeds during the Skrull invasion. It’s possible that the MCU could introduce the Thunderbolts first, then turn them into the Dark Avengers after Secret Invasion like in the original story. However, it’s also possible that the franchise could cut out the middleman and jump straight to a Dark Avengers storyline for the sake of simplicity.
Unlike the Thunderbolts, John Walker was actually a member of the Dark Avengers in the comics – albeit not entirely by his own will. The details of that story are complicated and likely wouldn’t be recreated identically in the MCU, but there is precedent for U.S. Agent to be involved with the team in some regard. Norman Osborne is also rumored to appear in Spider-Man: No Way Home, at least in some fashion, which could set up his role in the Dark Avengers and a potential connection to the Contessa.
Introducing a villainous super-team inspired by the Dark Avengers would be an interesting twist for the MCU. It would be a very different kind of story from the single-villain arc of the Infinity Saga, and it would harken back to the comics in some fun ways. Of course, it’s also possible that Val’s intentions aren’t so nefarious after all. Whatever role she ends up playing after Falcon & Winter Soldier, it should bring some exciting new developments to the MCU.