The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s Surprise Cameo Set Up the MCU’s Next Major Villain

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 5 spoilers follow.

Falcon and the Winter Soldier writer Malcolm Spellman promised (via that episode five will be the one that makes fans “cry.” And he wasn’t wrong either.

There were a lot of feels in the show’s penultimate episode, but what had us crying for joy wasn’t any of these deeper emotional beats. It was the surprise arrival of a brand-new villain who just so happens to be an eleven-time Emmy award winner who’s about to change the MCU forever.

Following last week’s violent cliffhanger, episode five seemed to wrap up John Walker’s story quite quickly. Sam and Bucky team up to give him a beat down, which feels a bit hypocritical given how often they’ve killed people too, but maybe it’s different when the cameras are rolling…

The government then calls their Super Soldier in for a trial where John is forced to give up his role as the new Captain America. Balking at the injustice of it all, Walker seems lost and ready to give up. But then he receives a surprise visit from Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, a new impressively named character who’s played by none other than Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

This came as a surprise to us too, and not just because Marvel kept her involvement under wraps. Julia is a comedy icon whose work in the likes of Seinfeld, Veep and Arrested Development is the stuff of legend. Did we mention she’s won eleven Emmys?

Given that she’s veered away from genre work in the past, Julia was the last person we expected to see pop up in Marvel’s latest Disney+ show, but here we are! And it turns out we’ll soon be seeing a lot more of her too…

When we first meet Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, she reassures John Walker that his actions aren’t as misguided as the government would have him believe. “These guys in ties have this whole thing to protect,” but what she’s really interested in is John himself.

As Julia’s character points out, taking the Super Soldier serum has made the disgraced Captain America “very valuable to certain people”. While Contessa doesn’t reveal who these people are exactly, she tells John to wait for her call on the matter before pointing out that Cap’s shield doesn’t really belong to the government at all.

These words plant a seed that comes to fruition in the post-credits scene where we see John create his own shield, setting him up as the US Agent anti-hero we know from the comics. However, Julia’s debut here will also ripple out into the wider MCU, positioning Contessa as a major character in future projects.

Vanity Fair reports that this new Big Bad was originally supposed to appear first in Black Widow, but numerous delays impacted Marvel’s running order. While we don’t know yet what her role in that film will entail, Julia’s character is based on a key comic book figure known as Madame Hydra, which suggests that Contessa may have trained in the same Soviet program as Black Widow, just like she did in the comics.

With one episode of Winter Soldier to go, there are plenty of paths Julia’s character can take moving forward. Could she turn out to be the mysterious Power Broker who’s working in Madripoor? Madame Hydra does have ties to that city in the comics, although Sharon Carter has been acting suspiciously too.

Contessa has also assembled teams of her own in the past, much like her comic-book love interest Nick Fury. Bearing that mention of The Raft in mind, could her newfound relationship with John Walker kickstart a new “superhero” team called the Thunderbolts?

In the comics, the Thunderbolts were a group of villains who pretended to be heroes before eventually reforming. The super villain Raft prison is tied to the team and they happened to be led by none other than Zemo himself, a key figure in Winter Soldier.

Whatever happens, Vanity Fair’s report certainly suggests that Julia Louis-Dreyfus will soon be playing a much larger role in the MCU. Beyond her upcoming appearance in Black Widow, don’t be surprised if she takes centre stage alongside Nick Fury in Secret Invasion where we can only assume she’ll win her twelfth Emmy.

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