Anyone who saw Thor: Ragnarok knows that Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie was the real MVP of that movie and Marvel seems to agree. Thompson's Valkyrie is officially coming to Marvel comics with the Asgardian sword-wielding bounty hunter making her debut in the upcoming Marvel comic book series Exiles, a reboot of the 2001 comic that, according to CBR, "brought together Marvel characters from different timelines and realities to correct problems in the multiverse," out April 11. But, the Thompson-inspired version of Valkyrie could also help correct Marvel's diversity problem.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Valkyrie will join a "diverse team of superheroes assembled from across dimensions" that includes Blink, an X-Men who can open portals and is currently played by Jamie Chung on the Fox show The Gifted; the return of Nick Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D.; Khan, an older incarnation of Ms. Marvel; and Wolvie, the baby version of Wolverine, who is both alarming and adorable.
In a statement, Exiles writer Saladin Ahmed explained that Valkyrie is a perfect fit for this ragtag team because she's a "classic Marvel heroine." One that's always appealed to him for many reasons. "Her iconic warrior-woman look — spear! sword! flying horse!" he stated. "But also the juxtaposition of a kickass ancient fantasy hero operating in contemporary New York City."
As Ahmed stated, though, Valkyrie — as inspired by Thompson — is going to be a bit different than the Valkyrie from the original comics, who was "known as the Lone Defender of Asgard" and "a tankard-draining, maiden-wooing, giant-slaying thunderbolt of a woman." This new take on Valkyre, Ahmed said, is "basically the literalization of the larger-than-her-physical-frame swagger that Tessa Thompson displayed in Thor: Ragnarok, turned up to 11.”
This Valkyrie, unlike the one in the movie, will also be gay according to The Hollywood Reporter. In his statement, Ahmed describes her as being "maiden-wooing," which falls in line with past comics in which Valkyrie is bisexual. The Fearless Defenders comic series, which debuted in 2013, included a romance between Valkyrie and Dr. Annabelle Riggs, an anthropologist who was also a lesbian.
But, it is a departure from the Valkyrie fans saw in Thor: Ragnarok, whose sexuality was overlooked. Valkyrie could have been the first LGBTQ character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is already 17 movies deep. And it seems she really was almost the first.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Thompson said she wanted to make Valkyrie's sexuality a part of the character's identity and even convinced director Taika Waititi to shoot a scene where her sexuality would be on full display. The scene showed a glimpse of a woman walking out of Valkyrie's bedroom, but it was cut from the final film.
“There were things that we talked about that we allowed to exist in the characterization, but maybe not be explicit in the film," Thompson told Rolling Stone, citing a scene in which she holds a slain female warrior in her arms. "In my mind, that was my lover," she said. Those watching the film may not have realized that, but those reading the comics won't have to wonder about Valkyrie's sexuality. The move might even be a helpful nudge Disney, who produces the Marvel movies, to make Valkyrie's sexuality a part of the next movie. Clearly, Thompson would appreciate that.
What readers appreciate, though, it how the Marvel comics have been trying to diversify its characters, often taking notes from the instances of colorblind casting from the movie. As The Hollywood Reporter pointed out, the originally white Nick Fury was re-written in the comics to look more like Samuel L. Jackson, who stars as the character in the MCU movies. The comics explained this by making this Jackson-inspired Nick Fury the illegitimate son of the original S.H.I.E.L.D. director. Valkyrie was also originally portrayed as white, but the popularity of Thompson's Asgardian warrior princess encouraged the new comic to change things up in an important way.
Not that there wasn't a backlash against Thompson's casting. But, as Thompson would say later, the least important thing about Valkyrie is her skin color. Thompson was cast because she understood the spirit of the character and that spirt has caught on with fans. Just as Thompson hoped, her Valkyrie will be known as much more than her skin color and fans of Marvel will be better for it.