THOR: RAGNAROK debuted to a popular bang. The newest Marvel film brought new developments for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thor got a newly minted haircut, Loki returns as a not-totally-bad guy, and Marvel got a new fan favorite: Valkyrie.

From the movie’s brilliant visuals to its hilarious script, this film is unquestionably a treat. However, one thing kept me from thoroughly enjoying the film: the erasure of Valkyrie’s bisexuality. As I sat in the movie theater the first time I watched THOR: RAGNAROK, I patiently waited. I waited to see any scene that would hint at Valkyrie’s bisexuality. I stood sadly disappointed.

Erasing the Canon

Before anyone can start a rise about fans wanting to add queerness to a “straight character” for political correctness, let it be known that Valkyrie is a canon queer character, especially in the MARVEL comics. Valkyrie made her first appearance in the MARVEL comics in THE AVENGERS #83 (1970), as Brunnhilde, the Asgardian leader of the Valkynoir.

Valkyrie
THE FEARLESS DEFENDERS #1

Since then, she has fought for the side of good, fighting alongside teams like the Defenders. The comics openly portray Valkyrie as bisexual, showing her falling in love with men and women. She had a relationship with a male partner, Siegfried, as well as a love-interest in mortal archaeologist, Annabelle Riggs (THE FEARLESS DEFENDERS #1.)

THOR: RAGNAROK did not particularly focus on any deep romantic storylines. However, the film did mention straight characters’ romantic histories, such as Thor’s relationship with Jane. Thus it wouldn’t have been out of the question to confirm Valkyrie’s bisexuality offhand. They could at least reference Valkyrie’s past female and male flames.

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Anyone watching the film without knowledge of this history would have no idea that Valkyrie was anything but straight. Heteronormativity (the assumption all characters are automatically heterosexual) definitely comes into play.

Cast Support for Bisexual Valkyrie

Prior to the film’s premiere, the cast discussed presenting the first openly queer character in a MARVEL film. Valkyrie would have been the first official queer woman of color in the MCU. Tessa Thompson, the actress playing Valkyrie, vocalized her own desire to see the character’s bisexuality depicted onscreen. Thompson stated on Twitter, regarding Valkyrie: “She’s bi. And yes, she cares very little about what men think of her. What a joy to play!”

Valkyrie

In an interview with ROLLING STONE, Thompson stated that she kept this facet of Valkyrie’s identity in mind while performing her role. “There’s a great shot of me falling back from one of my sisters who’s just been slain,” says Thompson. “In my mind, that was my lover.” The actress had pitched to Taika Waititi about portraying Valkyrie as bisexual based on her comic book history. Thompson directly referenced the kiss with Annabelle Riggs.

She even suggested shooting a scene where the audience can catch a glimpse of a woman walking out of Valkyrie’s bedroom. However, this remained cut from the film’s production. Waititi claimed that the scene did not contribute to “vital exposition.” Later, Thompson stated,

“There were things that we talked about that we allowed to exist in the characterization, but maybe not be explicit in the film.”

Possible “Reasons” for Queer Erasure

At first, I was both excited and cynical about a potential openly LGBTQ+ character in the Marvel film franchise. Hoping for canon, authentic representation in a major blockbuster franchise is often a gamble and a very weak one at that. Hoping for any diverse representation in Hollywood, be it racial, queer, disabled, etc., can often be disappointing.

Marketers often act according to what they believe will turn the greatest profit. This means considering what they believe audiences will want, or not want. Mixing U.S. and international markets is tricky. This is especially true in homophobic countries such as China and Russia, which often automatically censor any LGBTQ+ related content. However, that alone shouldn’t be an excuse to deny representation.

Why Diverse Representation Matters

The idea that there aren’t audiences out there who want queer representation is absurd. Media featuring LGBTQ+ stories is popular. There is a robust demand for diverse, queer narratives. Consider MOONLIGHT, a film with an African-American gay lead that won an Academy Award for Best Picture.

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BLACK MIRROR’s “San Junipero” showcased an interracial queer relationship. Even the animated short film “In a Heartbeat” received over 33 million views online. Queer films that show characters openly and happily in love with the same sex are a revolution. Queer films that acknowledge people can be attracted to more than one gender is what we need.

The MCU has shown significant potential for discussing issues of diversity. THOR: RAGNAROK touched upon the evils of imperialism in its head villain Hela. Waititi’s choice to include indigenous representation both in front of and behind the camera is another positive step forward.

Furthermore, the upcoming BLACK PANTHER movie will be the first MARVEL film to showcase a black male protagonist as well as a primarily black cast. BLACK PANTHER discusses African identity in a technologically advanced nation untouched by white colonialism. Why should queer representation be any different?

Valkyrie

The idea of adding queer characters to the franchise means a play for “political correctness.” But to many AVENGERS fans, seeing an openly LGBTQ+ character on screen, especially a queer woman of color, means validation.

We live in a world where LGBTQ+ rights remain continually stripped away. Where young queer kids are told they are wrong for merely existing. To see a superhero as fierce and powerful as Valkyrie means incredible confirmation of queer identity. So, to the MCU, hear us say that we want bisexual Valkyrie. We would fight for the honor to have her.

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