Black Panther: Wakanda Forever had plenty of surprises, but one unexpected development will impact the entire MCU going forward. The movie upended what we thought we knew about a certain shadowy figure. Turns out they are far more dangerous than we realized because they already wield far more power than we ever expected. Who is this person, and what does this revelation mean for the franchise?
We’ll tell you all about them and what this revelation means, but we have to spoil a major Wakanda Forever surprise to do so.
Valentina Allegra de Fontaine: Deputy Director of the CIA
In a film that had a secret son and an unexpected cameo from a dead villain, Black Panther 2‘s biggest surprise was that Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine officially works for the United States government. She’s not part of some furtive, underground organization like we thought because her previous MCU appearances showed her working with a disgraced superhero and an international assassin. But even more shocking is that “Val” is Deputy Director of the CIA. Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is not a Black Ops figure or spy running a secret group for the agency. She’s a public figure and one of the most powerful people in the country.
That not only reframes her entire story, it changes her earlier interactions in the franchise. And it fundamentally impacts Marvel Studios’ upcoming Thunderbolts.
Contessa Recruits John Walker
Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s Val made her MCU debut on Disney+’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. She approached the disgraced John Walker in episode five after the government stripped him of both his title as Captain America and his military rank. Unlike the government’s public display of anger and disgust, Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine supported Walker’s extrajudicial killing of a Flag Smasher super soldier. She also told Walker his actions made him very valuable to certain unnamed people.
Contessa Valentina also made reference to a “dirty” state secret about the legal gray area of ownership of Captain America’s shield. But there was no way to assume that meant she worked for the CIA or any U.S. government agency.
In the next episode, Val also recruited Walker to become US Agent. That’s when told him “things are about to get weird,” and when they do “they” won’t need Captain America, they’ll need a US Agent. The “they” Contessa Valentina referenced now seems to have been United States officials.
It’s easy to imagine why the CIA would want its own superhero group. As General Ross learned over the years, the Avengers are all but impossible to control. The Sokovia Accords were a disaster that don’t even appear to matter to the world anymore. John Walker, someone willing to cross lines Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson never would, gives the CIA a super soldier it can send on sinister missions.
But it was Contessa Valentina’s second MCU appearance that is now far more ominous after Wakanda Forever.
Valentina Allegra de Fontaine Contracts Yelena Belova to Kill Hawkeye
Val returned to the MCU during Black Widow‘s post-credits scene. She surprised Yelena Belova at Natasha’s gravesite. That scene revealed Yelena works for Val, though the exact nature of the missions was not specified. But it’s easy to imagine Contessa Valentina uses the former MCU Black Widow as an assassin since she sent Yelena out to kill Clint Barnes.
And now that we know the Deputy Director of the CIA, rather than an independent contractor, put out a hit on a famous Avenger, it raises questions that will change the entire MCU.
Is the U.S. Government Trying To Kill Avengers?
Wakanda Forever suggested the CIA and/or the US Government at large wanted one of its original Avengers dead. If so, was that because Clint caused his former employer so much trouble? Does he know too many secrets, and the CIA has decided he’s too big a risk? Is the explanation as simple (and sinister) as the government growing tired of powerful figures working without oversight? (Which would explain why Val is building her own cadre of replacement superheroes.) Does that mean every Avenger is in mortal danger?
Or was the attempted assassination of Clint Barnes not an official CIA mission, and the MCU’s Val personally wanted Hawkeye dead? That would be consistent with Contessa Valentina’s Marvel comic book history.
Is Valentina Allegra de Fontaine an MCU Double Agent?
In Marvel Comics, Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is best known as a double agent. If that proves true in the MCU, it means the United States has a traitor as Deputy Director of the CIA. (This also means Contessa Valentina’s desperate desire to get vibranium in the MCU could be even more dangerous that we thought.)
That would also fundamentally change the franchise going forward, especially Marvel Studios’ Thunderbolts movie that will feature Dreyfus’s character. Will the new superhero group—which will include a bunch of Russians—think it’s working for the United States while unknowingly serving an evil organization or foreign entity? Will all of them be unaware of that fact? Or will some of them be in on it?
And those are just some of the questions this revelation raises. Will we also find out the Power Broker Sharon Carter is also in cahoots with Val? And who, if anyone, might both be answering to?
No matter what this means for the future, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever revealed just how dangerous and mysterious Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is. Not because she’s a shadowy figure, but because she isn’t.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.