Who is Valentina in Black Widow? Julia Louis Dreyfus villain explained
A mysterious new villain is quietly making her way through the MCU.
One of the most exciting things about any Marvel movie is the post-credits sting and Black Widow didn't disappoint, featuring the return of Julia Louis-Dreyfus' enigmatic and darkly comedic villain: Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine.
The character made her debut earlier this year in action-packed Disney Plus drama The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, where we saw her grant troubled super-soldier John Walker a second chance at heroism under the title of USAgent.
In the Black Widow post-credits scene, she approaches another antihero with a dark past, seemingly intending to stir up trouble for one of the founding members of the Avengers.
So, who is Valentina in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Read on for your full breakdown of the comic book character, everything we know so far and theories about what could happen next.
Black Widow: Who is Valentina?
Valentina is an emerging figure in the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, who looks set to have a major influence on the future of Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
In the comic books, Valentina was first introduced as a highly competent SHIELD agent and romantic interest for director Nick Fury, going on to lead her own squad and later becoming a liaison with the UK's superhero community.
However, in a more recent storyline, it was revealed that Valentina had been a Russian sleeper agent the entire time, working for a sinister organisation known as Leviathan.
In this capacity, she briefly joined HYDRA under the alias of Madame Hydra, but ultimately betrayed them in a show of loyalty to Leviathan, sparking a brutal war between the two criminal groups.
It's not yet clear whether any of this comic book backstory will be translated to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Valentina has generated some major fan theories with her keen interest in both John Walker and Yelena Belova.
Contessa Valentina MCU theories
While it's too soon to know exactly what Valentina is up to in the MCU, one of the leading theories suggests that she could be assembling a team of reformed villains known in the comics as the Thunderbolts.
Rumours of the group's formation began to gain traction during The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, with both John Walker and Baron Zemo presenting themselves as prime candidates for the gig.
The former has already been groomed by Valentina, who gifted him a new identity and a chance of redemption as USAgent, leaving him deeply in her debt.
In the time elapsed between the events of Black Widow (approximately 2016) and the present day MCU (2023, following Endgame's time-jump), it appears that Yelena Belova has also found herself in Valentina's employ.
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In the Black Widow post-credits scene, Valentina puts her on a collision course with Clint Barton, but her precise reasons for doing so are unclear at this time; expect more details in this winter's Hawkeye series on Disney Plus.
It's possible that Valentina wants Hawkeye for the Thunderbolts too (he did show his dark side while masquerading as deadly vigilante Ronin), which would put her in command of an accomplished line-up of fighters.
The question is, why? It's possible she's looking for a team that would boost her political status, but an intriguing line she utters in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier suggests there's something more to her plan.
In the series finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Valentina leaves John Walker with the words: "Things are about to get weird."
This being the MCU, there are any number of insane phenomena she could be referring to, but one strong possibility is the genesis of the mutants – who are confirmed to be on their way to the MCU.
As a senior member of the intelligence community, Valentina may have access to classified reports of mutants existing around the world and may have an inkling that they are about to go public.
In addition, some fans have theorised that this version of Valentina might actually be an amalgamation of two characters from the Marvel comic books: the Contessa herself and National Security Adviser Val Cooper.
Cooper has a direct history with John Walker in the comics, recruiting him to be the next Captain America when Steve Rogers briefly vacated the role, but she has mostly featured in storylines featuring X-Men characters.
Marvel has recently demonstrated a willingness to modify their characters in the leap to live-action, with breakout Loki star Sophia Di Martino thought to be playing an amalgamation of Lady Loki and Enchantress.
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Given that Valentina once took on the role of Madame Hydra in the Marvel comic books, we can't rule out the possibility that she could be leading a comeback for the supervillain organisation.
In 2014's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, they were revealed to be the puppet-masters operating SHIELD as a front, but their authoritarian plan dubbed Project Insight was thwarted.
From that point, they were relegated to television baddies on Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, where they were a persistent thorn in the side for Coulson and his team across several seasons.
The group are notoriously difficult to snuff out entirely – "cut off one head, two more will take its place" – so we could see them plotting a big screen comeback sometime in the near future.
With Secret Invasion confirmed to be on the horizon, Valentina could be a shape-shifting Skrull in disguise, which might explain her sudden interest in working with the MCU's emerging power players.
Adding fuel to this fire is the fact that Valentina has a long and storied history with Nick Fury in the comics, with Samuel L Jackson's super-spy set to play the lead in the upcoming Disney Plus adaptation.
If Kevin Feige decides to fold Valentina and Fury's entangled past into MCU continuity, it would establish her as a perfect target to make him drop his guard to any Skrull duplicity.
Also, we want to see Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Samuel L Jackson exchange some witty banter. It just makes sense.
Read more about the MCU's latest as we discuss the Black Widow timeline, the Black Widow ending, a possible Black Widow 2 and how to watch the Marvel movies in order.
Black Widow is now playing in UK cinemas and will arrive on Disney Plus Premier Access on Friday 9th July. You can sign up to Disney+ for £7.99 a month or £79.90 a year now.
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