If like me, you packed into a movie theater, sipping soda from a straw shoved under your mask, and watching Black Widow; or if you also, like me, watched Marvel Studio’s newest hit on Disney+ while in your PJs and still sipping soda through a straw under your mask, you no doubt were surprised by the after-credits stinger.
It goes without saying that this piece comes with a whole, hefty load of spoilers for Marvel’s newest release. Go and catch up before you read any further. Unless you’re cool with spoilers, then keep reading. But don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Over 10 years now and the MCU mid and end credits stingers have become almost as cliched as villains who twirl their mustache and divulge their ultimate plan to the hero. But hey, cliched or not, they’re still a blast to see since they usually do a great or at the least, intriguing job at setting up what is to come. Marvel Studios keeps dangling those carrots and some of us keep running after them like the poor, fools the we are.
My wife and I watch these films together—we’ve been enjoying them as a couple ever since our earliest days of dating when we did a date-night to see Thor in theaters after having her watch the first two Iron Man movies and The Incredible Hulk on DVD. While she is now pretty well versed in the lore of Marvel Comics more recent history; she knows that if she sees me giggling excitedly when someone delivers a cryptic line or makes a deep reference to an older piece of Marvel Comics history while watching these films, then something exciting is about to happen. At the conclusion to Black Widow this weekend, we were both giggling when who should appear on screen but La Contessa Allegra de Fontaine herself, played to perfection by the hilarious and brilliant Julia Louis-Dreyfus of Seinfeld and Veep fame.
Thanks to the global pandemic that is still forcing us to sip our soda through our masks while at the movies, this character’s reveal changed spots. If you’ve seen The Falcon and Winter Soldier series on Disney+, then you already know Contessa.
So who then is this no-nonsense woman with the purple streak in her hair who has an affinity for a Captain America knock-off and the little sister of the late Natasha Romanoff and what does her presence mean for the MCU going forward? While there are no concrete answers, we can still look at her character from the comics and see if we can glean a little of where she might take us in this new Phase.
Created by Jim Steranko and making her first appearance in issue #159 of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.LD., Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine was born and raised in Italy, part of the swinging 1960’s jet-set scene. Both she and her parents worked for the Italian anti-Communist group known as Leviathan as sleeper agents. However, after her parents died she began looking to do something more important with her life. It was in pursuit of this new chapter to her life when she joined S.H.I.E.L.D. thanks to Dum-Dum Dugan—bowler hat aficionado and an all around silly named soldier.
Upon completing her training, she met Director Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. and for many years, the two would become romantically involved. She’s been a high-raking member of S.H.I.E.L.D., led an all-female group of S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives known as the Femme Force (say that five-times fast), and been known to flirt with Cap from time to time just to spite Fury. Can you blame her? I mean, he does possess America’s Ass.
In true spy-thriller fashion, she eventually joined the group known as Hydra in secret and even became the head of the quasi Nazi group as Madam Hydra. She eventually betrayed Hydra and manipulated an all-out war between them and Leviathan. In the end, she was just doing her part to sow the seeds of destruction and try to destroy the evil organization known for always being the thorn in the side of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Don’t mess-a with the Contess-a! God, now I need that on a t-shirt that only two out of a hundred folks will get and compliment me on—just like my B. Arthur Star Wars shirt—it simply too beautiful for anyone to get.
Valentina’s history recapped, now we look ahead at a road for a character that may seem a bit muddy based on what has already transpired in the MCU. Not too long after the first Avengers movie, ABC and Marvel Studios released the fan-favorite show Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Complicates It
In season 4 of the show, the titular agents ended up in a virtual world where Hydra controlled the world. In this twisted reality the many headed organization headed by an LMD (Life Model Decoy—a kind of robot in the Marvel comics) named Aida who had taken on the title of Madam Hydra. This title, like many of the of characters in the world of comic books, has been held by several characters. Where things get confusing, is whether Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is still considered to be part of the broader MCU canon or not.
This is not only a complication in acknowledging characters like Madam Hydra; but also in acknowledging a lot of interesting content and characters who always played nice with the movies but never got the shout-out from their big-screen friends.
Regardless of where this show stands, there is certainly the chance that Contessa in the MCU might take-up the mantel of Madam Hydra and restore the organization that has been out of the loop on the big screen for some time. She could remain similar to her comic counterpart and be playing a duel role or instead be more like Agatha Harkness in WandaVision, they could change her character up a bit and downplay her more heroic role.
At this point, it’s hard to say what her motivations are and on that note…
What does she want with U.S. Agent and what we can only assume is the new Black Widow in John Walker and Yelena Belova? Who hired her to kill Hawkeye? Why does she think Hawkeye killed Natasha? Did Hawkeye not make the rounds on the talk-show circuit post-Endgame and tell his side of the story? Will Contessa’s boots ever be made for walking? These are all valid questions and her actions seem to indicate that she’s putting together an Avenger’s like team. Could we see her in Sheng-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings recruiting Abomination to be the Hulk for her Knock-Off Avengers?
At this point, we can only wait and see who else she recruits and what jobs she may have for them to undertake. Knowing that the Hawkeye series is coming to Disney+ soon with both the titular archer and his young protege, Kate Bishop, will they be going up against Contessa and her team of dastardly do-gooders? Bad-gooders?
At this point, while Loki wraps things up this week and since we are still uncertain as to how his shenanigans will shape the next Phase of the MCU, we do know that when it comes to spy games and espionage, Contessa seems poised to be at the heart of it all and still severely allergic to the American Mid-West.
So, what do you think about Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine?
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