Warning: The following contains spoilers for Black Panther: Wak&a Forever.With the release of Black Panther: Wak&a Forever, most attention has been focused on just which character would take up the Black Panther mantle & just how much of a villain Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejia) would be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While both of those questions are answered in Wak&a Forever, they aren’t the only wheels in motion in the movie.
Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) makes his return to the MCU as an ally for Wak&a’s royal family, trying to help them, so they aren’t the target of the CIA. Unfortunately for him, his ex-wife sees Wak&a & its hold on vibranium as a threat, & she makes that very clear. His ex just happens to be Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) & the current director of the CIA. That means their personal issues are eclipsed by their work dynamic. Val, as she prefers to be called, lets her more villainous side show in Wak&a Forever as a result, something not seen from her in the MCU before now.
So far, Val has only appeared in two other MCU properties: The Falcon And The Winter Soldier & Black Widow. In both projects, she’s a more ambiguous figure. While she’s clearly intent on recruiting a little help, it’s never made clear just who she’s working for or what her goal is.
In The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, Val makes her first MCU appearance, comforting John Walker (Wyatt Russell) when he’s made several mistakes as the government-sponsored Captain America. It’s Val who coins his “US Agent” codename as she wants him to work for her.
In Black Widow, Val appears at the grave for Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) to speak with Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), though their relationship has already been established off-screen. Yelena is pretty clear about the fact that she doesn’t want to work for Val, but Val offers Yelena something she wants – the identity of someone to blame for Natasha’s death. While that does seem less ambiguous than her previous appearance, it’s not exactly sinister, & it sets up Yelena’s addition to the Hawkeye series on Disney Plus.
While it’s implied in both situations that Val works for the United States government, it’s never explicitly stated who she works for, or what her goal is with recruiting these anti-heroes.
In Black Panther: Wak&a Forever, however, it’s made very clear that Val doesn’t have everyone’s best interest in mind. She spends the bulk of her time in Wak&a Forever in something of an exp&ed cameo, reminding Everett Ross about the fact that they used to be married. She shows up to talk to him at crime scenes, sits next to him in meetings, & constantly pushes him for information while pretending that she’s simply deferring to his expertise in Wak&a.
When Val reveals that she’s known the entire time that Ross has been giving Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) & Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright) classified information & trying to keep them from getting into trouble, the audience might not be wholly surprised by the reveal. Like Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) before her, Val always seems to know more than she initially lets on.
The reveal that Val actually bugged Shuri’s kimoyo beads for Ross to find & has been patiently waiting to charge him with treason, however, probably threw a lot of fans for a loop. Despite Ross seeming like not the smartest government official in the MCU, he’s tried his best to help those in precarious positions, & genuinely thinks other governments shouldn’t meddle in Wak&a’s own affairs. He’s the good version of a government agent the audience gets while Val is painted in a much more sinister light when she decides to target him.
Many fans might have initially thought Val would be a Nick Fury figure moving forward in the MCU. After all, she showed up in a few small scenes set to recruit people with special skill sets. The impending Thunderbolts movie also made a lot of fans believe she would be responsible for bringing that team together as well.
While that could still be true, the audience is likely in for a different side of Val in her next appearances. Her glee at the idea of the United States getting vibranium out of Wak&a, her laser-like focus when it comes to punishing Ross for lying to her, & her willingness to target a 19-year-old girl who has a brilliant mind all show that she’s got a dark side. Val might not be the leader compartmentalizing information for the good of everyone like Nick Fury.
Instead, Val might find herself as the next Enormous bureaucratic villain in the MCU while Kang is the next Enormous super powered villain on the horizon.
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