With this week’s release of “Thor Ragnarok,” the first LGBTQ character is introduced into Marvel Cinematic Universe: Valkyrie. In the comics, Valkyrie is openly discussed as being bisexual and actress Tessa Thompson confirmed herself via Twitter that the character’s bisexuality would carry over to her “Thor: Ragarok” role. Tessa tweeted, “YES! Val is Bi in the comics and I was faithful to that in her depiction.” But her sexuality isn’t explicitly addressed in “Thor: Ragnarok.”
Directly addressed or not, the portrayal of Marvel cinema’s first LGBTQ character provides representation to a marginalized community of people and it will resonate with them regardless. With that in mind, Tessa Thompson’s character Valkyrie can be fully understood.
Thompson’s character, first introduced in the midst of turmoil, is a misguided anti-hero type, initially playing the right hand of a more villainous figure. She is sharp-witted and even sharper tongued, sweeping in to save the day, only to ultimately betray Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, and satisfy her own corrupt agenda. Her character is presented to us as a self-serving hustler, fearless and skilled in combat, however, morally questionable and deeply troubled.
However, beneath that thick armor of cool sarcasm and tattered battle gear, Valkyrie’s character becomes more than what is seen at surface level, at heart being a more-than-slightly alcoholic mess immersed in the still-fresh pain of her past.
After her comrades are massacred ruthlessly for the sake of Odin’s throne, Valkyrie becomes emotionally isolated and cynical, harboring the blood-drenched secrets of Asgard’s past and a deep resentment of the throne.
Valkyrie is a powerful figure capable of ushering in change and fighting against malevolent powers, however she is suspended in stagnation, trapped by her own dark history and her struggles in accepting her identity and destiny.
She becomes caught between two existences, two selves; the warrior, and the scrapper; the hero, and the villain. This dynamic defines the character’s internal conflict, and ultimately, the character itself. Though Valkyrie eventually emerges as a savior when all hope would otherwise be lost, she is still fatally flawed, that scrapper girl with the heart of a warrior. Her portrayal is multidimensional, and humanizes a character caught between two selves who eventually learns to accept the truth of both.
So what did I think of her? Well, directly addressed or not, the significance of having the first LGBTQ character introduced into MCU is not only valuable on a personal level but also to the portrayal of the character herself. Coupled with the fact that she is a black female, she also serves as a direct reflection of my own reality. It’s heartening to see her portrayal as something so nuanced and multidimensional, defined by the emotional internal conflicts often faced in the realities of life. Her character becomes something incredibly real to me. Ultimately, what I see is the representation of myself and others like me with depth and consideration, defined by the fatal flaws granted by our own humanity. But not, however, chained by them.