The push to bring LGBTQ characters to the MCU goes on, despite seeming behind-the-scenes trepidation due to the social and political divides in America. It still isn’t stopping Marvel from forwarding the first real LGBTQ superhero in the form of Valkyrie.
Before you celebrate this (not so new) character from Marvel, it’s worth understanding the fascinating backstory of where she came from. The comic book history of Valkyrie has a lot of allusions to Norse mythology and even a famous German opera.
In the very early days of the character, it also involved feminism at the core of her existence. More recent comic book iterations have her as bisexual as well, making the character a legitimate part of the Marvel comic world Tessa Thompson will portray again in the Thor sequel Love and Thunder.
The roundabout history of Valkyrie in the comics
Den of Geek recently did an extensive piece about the history of Valkyrie and how she was created by celebrated Marvel artists Roy Thomas and John Buscema almost 50 years ago.
Initially, they made the character a ruse and one intent on forwarding the women’s lib movement growing in prominence by 1970. Marvel even had the character come to life via the spirit of Amora the Enchantress who inhabited the body of several young girls.
Not until later did the character become more of a self-contained figure, though with plenty of backstory coming directly from the Norse legends. Thomas even had the character directly inspired from Richard Wagner’s iconic German opera The Ring Cycle where Ride of the Valkyries comes from.
Yes, this meant her backstory had her existing once as Brunnhilde, plus involvement with Siegmund.
Latter was revealed to be Thor in his early life, with both having their histories wiped from memory once becoming superheroes in the modern day.
When did Valkyrie become bisexual in the comic books?
A lot of the Norse mythology backstory was scrubbed from the big-screen adaptations, outside of a few minor allusions. At least one thing true to the portrayal by Tessa Thompson in Thor: Ragnarok is Valkyrie being bisexual in the comic book editions.
Marvel started this in more recent years after numerous other variations on the Valkyrie character. Her bisexuality becomes apparent when she has an affair with an archaeologist named Annabelle Riggs.
Thompson noted recently how this was an important step toward making Valkyrie truly bisexual rather than having to invent it without precedent.
How it’ll be addressed in Love and Thunder is still up in the air, despite the confirmation of the character being pivotal.
What it has potential to do is go in similar directions producers have promised with Captain Marvel. Latter superhero still won’t have a sequel for several more years, however. By then, Valkyrie may have set a precedent without necessarily alienating conservative fans.
The delicate balance of addressing the sexuality identity of a Marvel superhero
Considering Tessa Thompson is an open bisexual, she has experience on how to properly portray Valkyrie in the right context. Since this is going to be the first open LGBTQ character in the MCU, the response from fans might be split down the middle based on the personal and political divides about same-sex relationships.
Reportedly, actress Jaime Alexander has expressed interest in being the love queen to Valkyrie. We’ll see how this plays out and if Marvel can make it work organically without looking like a forced agenda.
Making it look like a natural part of real life is the best approach so it fits in with where we are in the real world. However, it’s possible Marvel won’t be overly explicit since they did cut a scene in Ragnarok showing a female partner leaving Valkyrie’s bedroom.
Finding the balance on how to present LGBTQ superheroes for all audiences might require more debate in the editing and writing rooms than they ever thought it would in the abstract.