Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Marvel Character Has Been Totally Inconsistent – And That May Be The Point

When characters have been around for decades, a number of people tend to leave their creative fingerprints on them. For example, Captain America was created in 1940 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby for Timely Comics. He was a World War II soldier that went above and beyond the call of duty to aid in the fight against the Axis powers, particularly the Nazis. Later, when the company transitioned to Marvel, Stan Lee brought Cap into the modern day in 1963's "The Avengers" #4 as part of the popular super team. From there, a number of extremely talented people like Ed Brubaker, Mark Gruenwald, Roger Stern, Mark Waid, and Ta-Nehisi Coates have crafted character-defining stories for the Star-Spangled Man With A Plan. But as a character goes from creator to creator, they may change slightly. While it's certainly possible for people (fictional or otherwise) to be multifaceted in their personalities, those changes may also be chalked up to inconsistencies in the character.

When it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe's version of Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, some True Believers currently believe that the latter applies to the character played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Fans have pointed out that she has never been played the same way twice and it feels like she has a different voice or quirk each time we see her onscreen. While that may be an issue for some, it seems like a necessity for someone in Val's line of work. After all, a spy should be able to adapt in order to get the results they're looking for. 

Also, don't call her Val. Just keep it in your head. 

(SPOILERS for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" follow. Proceed with caution.)

Spy vs spy

The Contessa is a mysterious person. When we first meet her in "Falcon and the Winter Soldier," all we know is that she works for an organization that is interested in superhumans. That's why she pops up to recruit John Walker after he's stripped of his title and authority of Captain America. In the post-credits scene for "Black Widow," de Fontaine interrupts Yelena Belova at her sister's grave in order to give the master assassin her next mission, which happens to involve killing Clint Barton at the request of Eleanor Bishop (as seen in "Hawkeye"). But in her latest appearance in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," the curtain finally gets pulled back more. The top secret organization she works for? The Central Intelligence Agency. Not only that, but she is the new director of the CIA. Plus, as an added bonus, we learn that she is the ex-wife of Everett K. Ross and they have been colleagues for some time.

Based on this new information, it's safe to say that this woman has been in the spy game for a long time. Just like Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury, she has developed a knack for espionage and manipulation whenever the situation calls for it. Fury even used Phil Coulson's death and trading cards to get the Avengers to come together when his previous efforts weren't successful. So when the Contessa is approaching her ex-husband, her star operative, and a potential recruit, it would make sense that she acts differently around each of them in order for her to get what she wants from them.

What does everybody want?

To John Walker, Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is somebody that sees potential in him. To Yelena, she's a boss and a meal ticket. And to Agent Ross, she was a partner both professionally and personally. In each of those relationships, the Contessa needs to act differently to yield the results she's looking for. That's why she's more aloof when dealing with Ross. She has first-hand intel about what buttons she can press to make him work within the parameters of her plan. This knowledge is how she knew to bug Shuri's Kimoyo beads since he would inevitably pick them up at the crime scene on the bridge and contact Wakanda at the first chance he could get.

Though it's a bit more extreme, de Fontaine plays Ross the same way she plays everyone else. But the question remains whether this is her true self. Again like Fury (and probably most spies), she has so many angles and agendas and missions that it's hard to tell when Val is presenting her genuine self. We'll probably get the best idea of who this person is when "Thunderbolts" premieres in 2024. But until then, there's a chance that these inconsistencies will in her character continue if she finds herself in situations that call for it (like possibly the upcoming "Secret Invasion" series on Disney+ that's set to feature both Fury and Ross).