Warning: Contains spoilers for Thor: Love and Thunder
At start of production Thor: Love and Thunder promised to provide a better LGBTQ + representation for the MCU, but whether that promise has been kept is more complex than it seems. Ever since MCU started with Iron Man in 2008, it has rarely focused on romantic stories. However, that is often not what it’s all about, and early in the MCU, the cast included whites, cis-genders, and hetero characters, among others. Although changes have been made since then, this is a development area for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where Kevin Feige promises more LGBTQ + characters in 2018, which are starting to be filled with movies such as. Eternal.
A special focus for MCU’s LGBTQ + has been Tessa Thompson’s portrayal of the Asgardian hero Valkyrie, who is canonically bisexual in the comics. Introduced in Thor: RagnarokValkyrie appeared Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame with his last appearance in history, Thor made her King of Asgård when he set off to travel with the Galaxy Guardians. When Tessa Thompson was asked about the future of her character in the San Diego Comic-Con in 2019, Tessa Thompson said: “First and foremost as a king, as a new king [of Asgard], she must find her queen. So that will be the first order of the day. She has ideas. I have to tell you that, ”and apparently promises an explicit queer romance story as a priority for Valkyrie.
Of course, Tessa Thompson is not allowed to write the films, so whether this turns into anything has always been marked with a question mark. While Taika Waititi, who directed and co-authored Thor: Love and Thunder, seems keen on portraying LGBTQ + relationships, as he did in Our Flag Means Death, even Waititi is limited by higher powers at Marvel and Disney. It was revealed Thor: Ragnarok originally contained a scene that would have made Valkyrie’s bisexual identity more explicit, but it was cut from the release to improve the flow of the film. So with one more chance for the grade, was the MCU able to deliver on its promise to deliver an explicit LGBTQ + Valkyrie?
How Love & Thunder honored their Valkyrie vow
It is important to note that Valkyrie does not have a romantic plot in Thor: Love and Thunder, not to mention a full search for a queen that Tessa Thompson previously telegraphed for the character. This can be attributed to the fact that Valkyrie is a supporting character in Thor: Love and Thunder story and the addition of a full romance story for her would have made the film unmanageable and risked giving a bad portrayal. While the absence of that narrative is disappointing, the fourth Thor film makes Valkyrie explicitly LGBTQ + in several ways.
Talks about his appearances in Thor: RagnarokTessa Thompson said that in the flashback showing the death of the Valkyries, Thompson played her part by imagining that the Valkyrie who died in front of her had been her romantic partner. Thor: Love and Thunder made this backstory for Valkyrie Thor: Scene from Ragnarök cannon in the wider MCU with a conversation between Valkyrie and Korg. When Korg asks her what is bothering her, he suggests in detail why she might avoid the romantic intricacies that serve to indicate Thompson’s analysis of the Ragnarok scene, and Valkyrie confirms that Korg is pretty much right.
There are several other small nods to Valkyrie’s LGBTQ + sexuality in MCU throughout. Thor: Love and Thunder. As Thor, Mighty Thor, Korg, and Valkyrie leave Omnipotence City, Valkyrie takes a remarkable moment to stop and kiss the hand of one of the women standing next to Zeus as they share admiring glances. Valkyrie assures Thor that they are both on the same “team” “Team Jane”, alluding to old euphemisms around playing for teams as representative sexuality. Finally, just visible above Valkyrie’s head behind their ship bar, a set of rainbow neon lights can be seen as she and Korg talk about her past love life.
Why love and thunder failed in Valkyrie’s LGBTQ + story
Whereas Thor: Love and Thunder makes Valkyrie’s LGBTQ + story more explicit, there are problematic elements in the way it is presented, apart from not giving the full romantic search for a queen who has been proposed. While the story of Valkyrie’s past romance is now included in the MCU canon, it comes from a different character and not from her own mouth. It might have been unusual for Valkyrie to be so open about her past, but flashbacks or other narrative tools could have given Tessa Thompson’s character more power of action in the revelation. Coming from an external source and simply confirmed by Valkyrie, it leaves the story in a gray zone where it could be too easily changed at a later date.
There is another major problem with Thor: Love and Thunder LGBTQ + representation that goes beyond just not delivering on the story that was promised. Valkyrie’s strange moments on screen all seem nicely separated from the story and other events on screen. Valkyrie’s kiss on the hand in Omnipotence City, her conversation with Korg and her jokes about Jane could all be easily removed from the film for a more conservative audience without any changes in the wider arcs of Thor: Love and Thunder. This also applies to the other LGBTQ + representation included in the film, but not directly related to Valkyrie.
How Thor: Love & Thunder creates a better LGBTQ + representative in MCU
Next to Thor: Love and ThunderAn LGBTQ + portrayal of Valkyrie, the film revealed the sexuality of some other characters and created additional queer characters and relationships for future releases. The most notable of these was Korg, stated by Director Taika Waititi, who revealed that in MCU, Kronans is a species exclusively of men and therefore discusses his relationship of the same sex. This is then extended to Thor: Love and Thunder closing scenes to show that Korg is romantically involved with Dwayne with a mustache and they have a child together. This production is mixed, as there are questions about whether a gender-neutral species counts as LGBTQ + representation, and the scenes are, like Valkyries, easily cut. However, it is portrayed as a queer relationship and Korg talks about having two fathers, which is important in its own way.
The last two notable mentions in Thor: Love and ThunderFinal scenes are potential setups for future releases. Sif (Jaimie Alexander) finishes the film in New Asgard and trains the young Asgardians. This puts her together with King Valkyrie and could easily establish a relationship between the two characters that the actresses have both expressed interest in seeing come true. In the final Thor: Love and Thunder post-credits scene, Hercules (Brett Goldstein) is revealed to be heading into the MCU. In the Marvel comics, Hercules works with the Guardians of the Galaxy for a period of time, during which time a relationship with Noh-Varr, AKA Marvel Boy, begins. Eventually, Thor: Love and Thunder did not exactly deliver the romantic narrative promised for Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, but it represents another small step in the right direction for Disney’s LGBTQ + MCU representation.
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