WARNING: In this take on Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, there could be some spoilers ahead for Black Widow! Proceed with caution.
We’ve all been anticipating a Black Widow movie since Scarlet Johansson first graced the screen as the super spy Natasha Romanoff. I won’t get into the details of Black Widow because that’s not the purpose of this article.
Instead, I want to take a look at the shadowy character who appears in the post-credits: Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. Besides having what is possibly the most fabulous name I’ve encountered so far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), those of us who aren’t acquainted with the comics are no doubt wondering who she is and what her entry means for the storyline.
The Contessa in the Post-Credits and in the MCU
In the post-credits, Natasha’s adoptive sister, Yelena Belova, who was also trained in the Red Room, is visiting Natasha’s grave. She is joined by the Contessa, who we learn is Belova’s handler. The Contessa assigns Belova her next mission: to kill Clint Barton.
What’s interesting is that the Contessa tells Belova, “Maybe you’d like a shot at the man responsible for your sister’s death.” How did the Contessa know that Natasha sacrificed herself so that Clint could get the Soul Stone? Is Red Skull involved?
There are a few other things we can glean from this scene, especially about Belova who we now know works for the Contessa. In terms of the MCU at large, we know that the Contessa and Belova will more than likely be antagonists for the Avengers moving forward.
In the Contessa’s first appearance in the MCU on the penultimate episode of the Disney Plus series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, she appears to be forming a team of her own (perhaps of antiheroes) that includes former Captain America John Walker. We could also speculate that she’d be the mirror to Nick Fury if she is in fact putting together her own team of Avengers. I’m sure we’ll also be seeing both Belova and the Contessa on Hawkeye when it premieres on Disney Plus.
What Is The Contessa’s Origin Story?
While the MCU hasn’t given us too much to go on, we do have a wealth of information from the comics. The Contessa was created by Jim Steranko, the legendary Nick Fury/S.H.I.E.L.D. writer and artist. Her first appearance was in the Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. feature in 1967’s Strange Tales #159 as a jet-setting, European socialite.
But of course, this is Marvel and there’s a tragic backstory behind the couture. The Contessa and her family are originally from Russia. Her parents worked for a secretive terrorist organization named Leviathan but were posted in Italy (hence the Italian name) during the Cold War. Their purpose was to quell a local resistance effort against the USSR. However, her parents are killed by (presumably) Russian agents, after which Leviathan recruits her. This is important because we know that the basis of the Contessa’s drive is a desire to not let the deaths of her parents be in vain.
From the comics, we know that the Contessa is a triple agent who clandestinely works for Leviathan and has infiltrated both S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra. An interesting tidbit is that she learned her father used to work for S.H.I.E.L.D. as an agent.
As an agent for S.H.I.E.L.D., she was partnered with Nick Fury, with whom she has a rollercoaster romantic relationship. The two would remain on-again, off-again lovers through the years, and the Contessa would even become one of his most trusted agents. It’ll be interesting to see their relationship play out in the MCU. That said, we don’t know about her involvement with S.H.I.E.L.D. or Nick Fury in the MCU, but oh can we speculate.
What Are Her Skills?
Part of the fun with MCU is watching the heroes and villains in action. The Contessa will certainly not disappoint — in the comics she is a master martial artist and an excellent markswoman, strategist, and weapons specialist. In other words, she’s a super spy.
What Will Her Role Be in the MCU?
This is all speculation.
We know that she has ties to Hydra and in the comics was known as Madame Hydra, a Russian double agent. Hydra was one of the key adversaries of the Avengers, of course, so the question remains if the Contessa played a role in the organization behind the scenes or still is. Hydra was seemingly defeated in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but it has popped up in Ant-Man and was a key adversary in ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. We have to ask if the Contessa’s reappearance could signify a return of Hydra or something even more sinister.
With the MCU, the possibilities are really limitless. Black Widow has sown the seeds for the next phase of MCU, and the Contessa’s appearance could indicate that she’s going to be a key figure moving forward.
Whether or not she’s “good” or “bad” is yet to be decided. But to state the obvious: If she’s part of a hit against Clint Barton, she’s probably “bad” (at least for now). I think we’ll certainly see her causing a whole lot of grief for our heroes.
Oh, and considering that Julia Louis-Dreyfus, AKA Selena Meyer, is the Contessa, I’m expecting plenty of irreverent gallows humor.