Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 5 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
An exciting new character was introduced on Episode 5 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus is playing a mysterious stranger who approaches John Walker (Wyatt Russell). Fans have now identified her character as Agent 14 / Madame Hydra.
With a formidable name and a past connection to S.H.I.E.L.D., fans can only deduce she's up to no good. Here's everything we know about Madame Hydra and Julia Louis-Dreyfus's role on the show.
Who is Madame Hydra? She's a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and current HYDRA operative.
Reportedly, Julia's character was set to make her MCU appearance in Black Widow, which — pre-pandemic — was set for release before The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Unfortunately, due to production delays, Black Widow is now being released post-show, leaving fans surprised by this cameo.
In the comics, Madame Hydra was the alias for two different people: Ophelia Sarkissian, who made an appearance in the Marvel television show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and her successor, Countess Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. The Countess (or, as Julia says in the show, "Call me Val") first made an appearance in Marvel comics in 1967 and posed as an enemy of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D.
Val was also, at one point in the comics, a love interest for Nick Fury before a more modern iteration of the character changed her backstory to be a Russian mole within S.H.I.E.L.D. Val also kills the first Madame Hydra and assumes the identity, which would explain the character's connection to the Black Widow film.
What does Madame Hydra mean for the future of the MCU?
Fans will also recognize that the espionage backstory of the character alludes to the fact that not all HYDRA agents were purged from S.H.I.E.L.D. in the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and that the villainous organization is alive and well. Some fans theorize due to Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross' involvement in Black Widow, the villainous team known as "The Thunderbolts" will soon make an appearance in the MCU.
The supervillain team known as The Thunderbolts has sometimes been a group of reformed villains mixed with heroes, so the character lineup often changes. In the past, members have included Baron Zemo, who also appears in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Madame Hydra, Hawkeye, Green Goblin, Venom, Black Widow (Yelena Belova), Crossbones, and more.
Many of these characters pre-exist in the MCU, and it would be interesting to see what would happen if they were thrown together.
Additionally, fans have pointed out that in the comics, Val's replacement by a Skrull was the catalyst that clued Nick Fury in on the Secret Invasion arc, which fans know is being adapted into an upcoming Marvel television show in 2022.
This could potentially also tie in with the Captain Marvel sequel. In short, Madame Hydra's / Countess Val's inclusion is huge news for the MCU!
Fans are more than happy to see Julia Louis-Dreyfus in such an important role, and they also think that she could very well be the Power Broker. In the comics, Madame Hydra sometimes used the alias Viper to rule Madripoor. With one episode left of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, this could very much come true, but we'll have to wait and see!
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