Kinda like daddy issues and baseball caps, unlikely romances are omnipresent in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We’ve seen the deadliest assassin in the galaxy fall for a dumb dumb who loves Kevin Bacon, a union between a robot and a witch, the whole Hulk and Black Widow debacle, and probably lots more unbelievable hookups that are the stuff of fan fiction until they become canon. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever does fans a solid by confirming one relationship — although it’s probably not one that people saw coming or even thought to ponder. But it’s here and it’s now part of the MCU. Who’s the lucky couple? SPOILERS ahead!
The couple announcing their marriage and divorce at the same time is C.I.A. operative Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and new C.I.A. director Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus).
The reveal that these two were once an item comes as a surprise in Wakanda Forever, mainly because we had no idea that Julia Louis-Dreyfus was even in this movie until she showed up to accuse Wakandans of terrorism and arrest her ex-husband for treason (a.k.a. trying to help the Wakandans clear their rep). This major piece of backstory is revealed when de Fontaine says that she’ll hitch a ride with Ross from Boston back to C.I.A. HQ in Virginia. When Ross says that’s going to be a long ride, she says it’ll give her plenty of time to apologize for everything she did during their marriage.
This is a big reveal for these two, although it’s not like we knew much about either of their backstories before now. We don’t even know much about either character, period. This is Martin Freeman’s third appearance in the MCU; he debuted in Captain America: Civil War and had a larger role to play in Black Panther. Julia Louis-Dreyfus made her MCU debut in a surprise appearance in two episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. She returned in a post-credits scene of Black Widow. We know Ross is a by-the-books C.I.A. operative who has an unshakeable sense of loyalty, considering that he risks being charged with treason in order to help the Wakandans because Shuri saved his life in the previous movie. And we know that the Contessa is a cutthroat, amoral manipulator who’s recruiting a crew of equally unreliable super-soldiers (U.S. Agent and Yelena Belova, a.k.a. Black Widow).
As for what’s next for these two — ? Probably not any sort of reconciliation. The film ends with de Fontaine having her ex-husband arrested, but he’s busted out of a prison van by Midnight Angel (a.k.a. Okoye in her new suit of superhero armor). We’ll see Ross again in next year’s Disney+ series Secret Invasion, the Nick Fury-led thriller about the shape-shifting Skrulls infiltrating areas of influence on Earth in an attempt to take over the planet. It’s unclear how Ross will factor into that series considering that he’s probably a fugitive now.
As for Louis-Dreyfus, Valentina Allegra de Fontaine will return on the big screen in Thunderbolts, the upcoming supervillain/antihero team-up movie that also stars Sebastian Stan, David Harbour, Florence Pugh, Hannah John-Kamen, Olga Kurleynko, Wyatt Russell, and Harrison Ford. But considering that so far every single one of the Contessa’s appearances in the MCU has been a surprise, it seems like a safe bet that she could pop up literally anywhere at anytime.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is in theaters now. Secret Invasion will premiere on Disney+ in early 2023. Thunderbolts will premiere in theaters on July 26, 2024.