The Falcon and the Winter Soldier head writer Malcolm Spellman reveals it was Marvel Studios who suggested the series use Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) instead of a "shady" CIA agent character. Val, who reportedly was meant to appear first in Black Widow before the pandemic pushed the film's release date until after Falcon and Winter Soldier, makes a sudden appearance in Episode 5, "Truth," when she recruits disgraced Super Soldier John Walker (Wyatt Russell) after he's stripped of his title and authority as the new Captain America. The shadowy Val returns once more in the season finale, "One World, One People," where Walker steps out as Val's black-suited U.S. Agent.
"That was [Marvel's] suggestion. We wrote a shady-ass CIA character, and Marvel was like, 'It should be Val,'" Spellman told Everyone Loves a Good Story. "And one thing I give Marvel credit for, they are fans just like we are. They be knowing certain sh-t because they geek out. They're like, 'Oh man, what if it was Val?' Then the whole room was like, 'Oh, f-ck! Can we do that? Can we use Val?' Then they know they got one."
"But I think that's why it hit so hard," Spellman added of the surprise first appearance, "because she appeared like an Easter egg."
Marvel producers previously revealed Val was envisioned as a "darker" version of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the one-eyed S.H.I.E.L.D. super-spy who recruited Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) before assembling the Avengers.
"Whenever we talked about Valentina, even in the writers' room, she was sort of a more acerbic, funnier, but darker Nick Fury," Falcon and Winter Soldier executive producer Nate Moore told Marvel.com. "Someone who knows her secrets, who's not afraid to operate in the moral gray area, but maybe who isn't as inherently altruistic."
Like Jackson's Fury, who first appeared in a post-credits scene ending 2008's Iron Man before returning in 2010's Iron Man 2 and then 2012's The Avengers, Louis-Dreyfus' enigmatic Val will continue to appear throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
"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," Moore teased. "[Louis-Dreyfus has] only ever been great. There's something so likable about her that when she does show those darker tendencies to her character, it's a little bit more surprising and entertaining because you don't expect it to come from her."
All episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier are now streaming on Disney+. Black Widow premieres in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access on July 9.
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