Marvel gets a lot of credit — perhaps too much credit — for the idea that its cinematic universe is meticulously laid out years in advance, a grand plan that we and it alike are pulled along with as if by inevitability more so than the planning power of a studio worth billions of dollars. But given the last 18 months and counting that the world has had, surely some of that planning has been put askew? Only a tiny bit, apparently, according to Kevin Feige.
Speaking to On The Red Carpet for the premiere of Black Widow — a film that was originally meant to kick off Marvel’s “Phase 4” plans before the pandemic saw it delayed multiple times — Feige discussed Marvel Studio’s general reaction to the impact covid-19 has had on its rollout. Beyond Black Widow, films like The Eternals and Shang-Chi have been pushed back along with the rest of Disney’s calendar for the next year or two, but the company has managed to leverage the arrival of its Disney+ shows — WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and the currently ongoing Loki, all of which Widow was meant to release ahead of — to fill the gap between its movie releases.
But that’s relatively minor shuffling, all things considered. It’s only really Widow’s delayed release that’s largely changed what we knew to expect out of Marvel’s post-Endgame catalogue so far, and according to Feige, all that’s largely impacted is the early reveal of one connection between the movie and the Disney+ shows.
“There’s also an Easter egg that originally was going to appear first in Black Widow, and then show up in Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and because of the pandemic — it’s the only thing within our Phase 4 that was twisted a little bit,” Feige explained. “So for fans that watched Falcon and the Winter Soldier, there’s something waiting for them as an Easter egg in this film.”
That Easter egg had already been reported by Vanity Fair to have been the arrival of Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. She’s a character from the comics with links to a whole Rolodex’s worth of the publisher’s spy-fi secret organisations — from SHIELD to Hydra (she was, for a time, the owner of the Madame Hydra mantle), to perhaps most likely connected to Black Widow itself, the former Soviet spy cell Leviathan (which previously appeared in Agent Carter).
Given that de Fontaine’s plans are still relatively nebulous to us as an audience, outside of the fact that we know she’s teamed up with Wyatt Russell’s John Walker, aka the U.S. Agent, in the present, meeting her in Falcon before Widow likely doesn’t have all that much of an impact. Perhaps the fact that Feige claims it’s the only major reshuffle in the studio’s plans for Phase 4 makes it all the more impressive.