As The Falcon and the Winter Soldier remains poised to christen Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) as the new and rightful Captain America, the show is also on the verge of introducing the MCU's anti-Cap. That'd be John Walker (Wyatt Russell), a man who could barely be the Star-Spangled Man for five minutes without going nuts and murdering someone in cold blood.
Turns out there's a zero tolerance policy for getting viscera all over the famous shield that once belonged to Steve Rogers.
The government understandably gives John the boot in the most recent episode, but he doesn't take this turn of events too well, and sets out to build his own shield — using the military medals he was awarded for bravery. Fueled by anger and grief (after all, he just lost his best friend, Clé Bennett's Lemar Hoskins), Walker is headed down a dark path that leads to U.S. Agent or, as he's sometimes known in the comics, Super-Patriot. It doesn't help that someone is egging him on and whispering sweet nothings into his ear.
On the verge of giving up, Walker is approached by the mysterious Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (played by Veep's Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who not only tells him he was right to kill a Flag Smasher, but that his decision to take the Super Soldier Serum now makes him incredibly valuable to some powerful people. Who those people are, however, we can only guess.
When the character first made her surprise cameo on Friday, viewers started comparing her to Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury and wondered if she'd come recruiting for a villains-turned-heroes team known as the Thunderbolts. Series executive producer Nate Moore pretty much confirmed all of this during a recent chat with Marvel.com. Though he didn't mention the word "Thunderbolts," Moore did admit that Val (please don't tell her we called her that) is indeed a much shadier version of Fury, and hinted that she's only just getting started.
"Whenever we talked about Valentina, even in the writer's room, she was sort of a more acerbic, funnier, but darker Nick Fury,” he said. “Someone who knows her secrets, who's not afraid to operate in the moral gray area, but maybe who isn't as inherently altruistic. Having a character like Valentina in the show, and actually in the MCU, is really interesting because I think she'll be making more waves sooner rather than later."
“It's the beginning of something,” added co-executive producer Zoie Nagelhout. "John is really excited because he is someone who needs to have a purpose. He needs to feel like he has a place in the world. He needs to feel like he has direction and ambition. There's a catharsis to that [meeting] for him."
Russell also spoke with Marvel and recalled watching a legend like Dreyfus turn in a confident performance that walks the line between funny and sinister. The end result gives off the impression of someone with an unpredictable personality who likes to play things close to the chest. And if you think about it, that's exactly what Fontaine wants to project to the world.
"What was great was in that moment, I didn't do any talking. I was just watching Julia Louis-Dreyfus act and got to be a sort of passenger. Because you're just letting Julia Louis-Dreyfus just be her. I was like an audience member. [She’s] hitting all the beats that she needed to hit and making it totally different than it was on the page, she was great in every possible way."
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier wraps up the saga of Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes with its final episode on Disney+ this coming Friday (April 23). Val's work, on the other hand, isn't done — not by a long-shot — as she's expected to make an appearance in this summer's Black Widow film.