On Your Left

Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 5 gives Marvel fans the best cameo ever

The Marvel Cinematic Universe just introduced a huge star as a huge new character. Who is the actor, and who is the character? Read on and find out.

Marvel Studios / Disney+

“I’ll be in touch.” With four simple words, The Falcon and Winter Soldier has changed the Marvel Cinematic Universe forever.

For weeks now, fans have awaited Episode 5 of Falcon and Winter Soldier with anxious breath. Head writer Malcolm Spellman teased the episode as the place where someone of huge importance would show up. The rumor mill made it clear that it was an actor of great significance, as Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes’ journey through Captain America’s legacy reached its boiling point. Heading into the outing, expectations could not be higher, even after the WandaVision of it all — specifically, the Mephisto and Quicksilver of it all.

At last, the Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 5 cameo is here. Does it live up to the hype? Let’s just say that the penultimate installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest Disney+ series delivers on its promises, and then some. Last chance to turn back if you haven’t watched the episode yet, because it’s a doozy.

Major Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 5 spoilers ahead.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the Falcon and Winter Soldier cameo

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, welcome to the MCU!Marvel Studios / Disney+

An actor of great significance indeed: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the award-winner best known for Seinfeld and Veep, has officially entered the MCU. Once you finish doing your Elaine Benis dance of celebration, we’ll dig into how it all goes down.

(But seriously, do the dance.)

In Episode 5 of Falcon and Winter Soldier, John Walker answers for killing a man in broad daylight by losing the title of Captain America. He’s discharged from service with no rank and no benefits. He’s gutted, to put it lightly.

Immediately following the hearing, John and his wife meet a stranger: Valentina Allegra de Fontaine.

Actually, that’s Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. But you can just call her “Val.” Not out loud, though. Only in your head.

Such is the sprawling introduction for Louis-Dreyfus as Valentina, one that gives her a name almost as voluminous as Daenerys Targaryen and her many titles.

Armed with quippy dialogue befitting the star behind the role, Louis-Dreyfus’ Valentina effectively comes to Walker with the promise of recruitment. She tells him that his choice to take the super-soldier serum is the best one he’s ever made, second only to marrying his “firecracker” of a wife, as well as second to picking up the phone whenever Val comes calling next — and the way she leaves it, she will come calling: “I’ll be in touch.”

Who is Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine?

A Marvel spy, Valentina Allegra de Fontaine’s MCU role is just as murky as her comic book counterpart.Marvel Comics

Aside from having one of the single-longest names in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is an important character from Marvel Comics lore.

Created by Jim Steranko and first appearing in Strange Tales #159, the Contessa is a character most commonly associated with S.H.I.E.L.D. and the super-spies surrounding its orbit. In fact, in the comics, she even dates Nick Fury at one point. A sordid love history between Samuel L. Jackson and Julia Louis-Dreyfus? Please, yes.

Believe it or not, Val has other titles beyond Contessa. At one point in the comics, she takes on the role of Madame Hydra, as a means of helping Fury. She’s also a Russian spy. Speaking of which…

Where will we see Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Marvel next?

Marvel’s Black Widow is said to include scenes with Julia Louis-Dreyfus.Marvel Studios

With any luck, we will see Louis-Dreyfus next week in Falcon and Winter Soldier. But if she does not show up in the series again, it won’t be long before we cross paths with the Contessa once more.

Apparently, before Falcon and Winter Soldier, Louis-Dreyfus “was slated to first appear in the Black Widow film,” according to Vanity Fair. Which means she’s effectively the new Nick Fury, bobbing and weaving her way through Phase 4 projects.

Whether or not she still shows up in Black Widow remains to be seen, though the character’s Russian connections certainly help shine a way forward for her affiliation with Natasha Romanoff.

How Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ cameo changes Marvel

Still can’t get over Julia Louis-Dreyfus showing up in a Marvel property? Same here.Marvel Studios / Disney+

The Vanity Fair report points to one of the outlet's 2019 interviews with Louis-Dreyfus, in which the then-outgoing Veep star dropped hints about her possible Marvel future: “Swinging around on wires and kicking people in the face…shooting fire out of whatever you shoot fire out of. I would dig that.”

Whether she’s going to be “shooting fire out of wherever you shoot fire out of,” who knows, but there’s no doubt that the Contessa’s appearance is a game-changer.

We know Nick Fury and Secret Invasion are on the way, huge deals in the upcoming Marvel slate. In the comics, Valentina plays a very important role in Secret Invasion, as one of the first people Fury learns is secretly a Skrull, signaling the start of the invasion. Is Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ version of the character also a Skrull? Could she be the big bad of the Jackson-starring Secret Invasion series?

There’s another dark possibility for the character — and it’s Dark with a capital D.

There’s a lot of momentum for a Dark Avengers team assembling in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, what with the rumors of Norman Osborn’s imminent arrival. In Dark Avengers, Osborn forms his own team of mighty “heroes,” with help from a partner-in-crime named Victoria Hand. Hand was previously seen in the MCU, technically, with an important but quick role in the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., killed off as part of the Captain America: The Winter Soldier tie-in. Since Hand is off the table (barring a retcon), will Valentina Allegra de Fontaine take on the deceased character’s story weight in an upcoming Dark Avengers movie or series?

Wherever and however she shows up next, there’s no question: Julia Louis-Dreyfus showing up in Falcon and Winter Soldier isn’t just a one-off lark. This is the start of something massive. The queen of the castle has arrived, folks. Celebrate accordingly.

Falcon and Winter Soldier is streaming now on Disney+.