Thor: Ragnarok actress Tessa Thompson says she played her character, Valkyrie, as if she were attracted to more than one gender, just like her comic book counterpart — even if Thor: Ragnarok as a whole doesn’t make it explicitly clear.
Typically, for the service, how exactly Thompson came to be talking about this on Twitter is a little convoluted. Two male comics readers lamented the Marvel Cinematic Universe adaptation of Valkyrie as a “sexless tomboy,” while a third, female reader chimed into let them know that their opinion probably wouldn’t matter much to the character they were discussing, anyway.
Valkyrie in the comics is a big ole lesbian so I doubt she would give your opinion any thought.— BOO!-restes (@oresteian) October 21, 2017
At that point, Thompson chimed in with a friendly correction and a bit of shade on the original discussion.
She’s bi. And yes, she cares very little about what men think of her. What a joy to play! https://t.co/d0LZKTHCfL— Tessa Thompson (@TessaThompson_x) October 21, 2017
Of course, it was unclear whether Thompson meant “She’s bi” to simply mean that Valkyrie is bi in Marvel Comics — or that the film version of her is established as bisexual as well. If so, it would have made Valkyrie the first LGBTQ character in the MCU to be explicitly established as queer. (But not the first character established as queer in the comics to make it to an MCU film or TV show. Sure, that’s splitting hairs, but what else is discussions of “firsts” in comics fandom about?)
Thompson clarified in a further tweet, two days later:
YES! Val is Bi in the comics & I was faithful to that in her depiction. But her sexuality isn’t explicitly addressed in Thor: Ragnarok. https://t.co/hmb5lYN5to— Tessa Thompson (@TessaThompson_x) October 23, 2017
Rather than a vehicle for the male gaze, Valkyrie’s original appearance was as a ruthless straw feminist disguise used by the villain the Enchantress. As Valkyrie, Enchantress ensorcelled the leading female characters of the Avengers into seeking to subdue their male counterparts.
A few years later, Valkyrie was introduced as her own, independent character in The Defenders, and she was still not particularly interested in what men thought of her. Eventually, Valkyrie’s true past was revealed to the reader, and it took plenty of cues from Norse Eddas and Richard Wagner’s related operas known as The Ring Cycle.
In the past, Valkyrie had loved a man named Siegfried, until their tragic deaths. Odin revived both of them as warriors of Asgard and erased their memories of their mortal lives.
In 2013’s The Fearless Defenders series, Valkyrie was paired with mortal archaeologist Annabelle Riggs.
Polygon has reached out to Marvel Studios for comment.