The Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is a character that who been around in the pages of Marvel Comics since the Silver Age. And in the last few years, the femme fatale super spy has become a pretty important character in the MCU, post-Infinity Saga. (The character played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus differs greatly from her comic book counterpart.) But learning about Valentina’s comics history might shed some light on what we can expect in the future from the MCU version of the super spy, whose allegiances are always suspect.
Valentina Allegra de Fontaine’s Controversial Comic Origin Story
Created by artist Jim Steranko, the Contessa first appeared in a Nick Fury story in 1967’s Strange Tales #159. This was back in the days when S.H.I.E.L.D. still stood for Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-Enforcement Division. Valentina was a super spy who first popped up during a fight between Nick Fury and Captain America. Eventually, in the great James Bond 007 tradition of the moment, she and Nick Fury began a romantic relationship. One of their romantic encounters was so suggestive, clearly showing the couple were about to have sex, that the Comics Code Authority edited it out.
Ironically, the version used was even more suggestive. Marvel Comics art director John Romita Sr. redrew a telephone that had been taken off the hook for privacy. That image alone implied a sexual encounter. So they had to replace it thanks to Comics Code rules. In the last panel, they removed and replaced the image with a closeup of a drawing from earlier on the page. The image was that of a very phallic long-barreled gun in a holster. The sanitized version was accidentally more scandalous than the original one, and became infamous in comics history.
Valentina Allegra de Fontaine’s Twisted Past
Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is actually her assumed name. The woman we know as Valentina is of Russian descent, and her parents were a part of the clandestine terror network called Leviathan. During the Cold War year, Leviathan gave her family the identities of the de Fontaines. Leviathan moved the newly named de Fontaines to Italy. There, they assumed the identity of resistance fighters against the Soviet Union. Eventually, Russian operatives kill Valentina’s parents and Leviathan later offers her a home in their organization.
Val soon takes on the persona of a European socialite. Having heard of her parents and their particular skills, S.H.I.E.L.D’s Dum Dum Dugan offers Val membership in the spy organization. Realizing she can spy on S.H.I.E.L.D. on behalf of Leviathan, Valentina accepts the offer. Becoming a valued agent, Val is present when S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury Sr. visits their training Academy for a sparring demonstration with Captain America. Val rushes to help Fury after an explosion momentarily stunned him. At first, the chauvinistic Nick Fury rejects Val’s help, but then she causally tosses him aside using her martial arts skills. This only makes Fury more interested in her and he promotes Val. She became a part of S.H.I.E.L.D’s Femme Force, where she often butted heads with Sharon Carter, better known as Agent 13.
Valentina Allegra de Fontaine and Nick Fury
Although loyal to Leviathan, Valentina simultaneously worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. all while romantically involved with director Nick Fury Sr., and then also worked for the terrorist organization Hydra. In fact, for a time, she became Madame Hydra herself. Working within both organizations, Val was effectively a triple agent. She gathered intel from the two rival operations, reporting her information to her Leviathan superiors. Fury eventually found out, and although betrayed, he never stopped loving Valentina.
The Contessa played a significant part in the Secret Invasion comics event. At first, it appeared that Val had returned after a long absence, but the Val we saw was actually a Skrull imposter sent to spy on Nick Fury and mine him for secrets. Fury realized that this particular Val was a fake and kills her. A different Skrull posing at Val very nearly kills Dum Dum Dugan. After they repelled the Skrull Invasion, they freed the real Contessa from captivity, learning that the Skrulls had stolen her identity for months.
Valentina Allegra de Fontaine in the MCU
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is a very different character. There is no indication she ever worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. or had a romantic past with Nick Fury (although for all we know she did). We do know that she’s the director of the CIA in the MCU, as revealed in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. And that she was once married to Everett Ross. We saw her first in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, recruiting John Walker as the U.S. Agent. And she was sending Yelena Bolova on a mission to kill Clint Barton at the end of Black Widow. We’ll see her again in the upcoming Thunderbolts film in a major role. Will she be as shady and untrustworthy in the MCU as she was in the comics? We’re thinking that’s very likely, but only time will tell.