Marvel Finally Revealed a Superhero as Queer in Thor: Love and Thunder – And That’s Crucial
Thor: Love and Thunder prevails where Disney and Marvel failed so many times before, giving fans adequate LGBTQ+ representation by making King Valkyrie’s bisexuality clear.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has finally confirmed what fans have known for years, King Valkyrie (played by Tessa Thompson) is bisexual. Valkyrie, who first appeared in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok returns to the big screen in Thor: Love and Thunder. The film makes it clear that Valkyrie is queer, a fact established in the comics and confirmed by Thompson (who is bisexual herself) back in a 2017 interview with Rolling Stone.
While Marvel and its parent company Disney are decades behind other film companies when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation, the way Love and Thunder presented Valkyrie’s bisexuality was near perfect. From Marvel’s awkward portrayal of the gay Grieving Man in Avengers: Endgame to its more well-rounded gay character, Phastos, Valkyrie’s bisexuality is perfectly balanced with the rest of her identity, emphasizing her sexuality yet not making it the central point of the character.
Marvel’s Past Problems with LGBTQ+ Representation
Disney is notorious for neglecting its queer fans. Its attempts at “allyship” have been disappointing and slow. Disney Parks didn’t openly acknowledge Pride until 2019, and only at its Paris location; Pixar animators stated that corporate historically insisted they remove “nearly every moment of overtly gay affection” in their films. Disney has recently come under fire for its resistance to condemn Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill quickly enough.
While it’s true that Disney and its subsidiaries have included small scenes with gay characters in them — think the moms at the aquarium in Finding Dory or LeFou in the live-action Beauty and the Beast — these are blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments that are sorry excuses for real representation.
Marvel is under the Disney umbrella, so it’s been slow to include explicitly LGBTQ+ characters. The MCU started with the most subtle introduction of a gay character in Avengers: Endgame, when the Grieving Man, who is gay, attended Steve Rogers’ support group. Needless to say, it wasn’t as groundbreaking a moment as the creators thought at the time.
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Eternals introduced Phastos, a gay superhero with a husband. This was a better representation, as Phastos was actually a main character. Additionally, Loki and Sylvie are confirmed as bisexual in the Disney+ series, Loki. Other characters are queer in the comics but not yet confirmed to be in the MCU, such as America Chavez, Wiccan, Speed, and Ayo. Some fans believe Bucky Barnes and Captain Marvel are also queer-coded.
Valkyrie was brought into the MCU before all of these characters and is lauded as the studio’s first major LGBTQ+ character yet her bisexuality was only addressed in the most recent film, Thor: Love and Thunder. Maybe it was worth the wait as Valkyrie’s queerness was depicted well for a studio usually lacking in queer representation.
Is Valkyrie Bisexual in Thor: Love and Thunder?
Even though King Valkyrie’s bisexuality wasn’t addressed in her first Thor appearance, actress Tessa Thompson pushed for it to be. Initially, she pitched a scene for Ragnarok to director Taika Waititi that would allude to the warrior’s queerness with a shot of a woman leaving Valkyrie’s bedroom. It would’ve been a very small bit of representation, not quite Phastos-level but definitely better than Endgame‘s Grieving Man. Sadly, the scene was cut from the film.
While that moment didn’t make it into the film, Thompson still played Valkyrie as bisexual in Ragnarok. The actress told Rolling Stone (via ScreenCrush) that during the flashback scene where the Goddess of Death kills Valkyrie’s warriors, “There’s a great shot of me falling back from one of my sisters who’s just been slain. In my mind, that was my lover.”
Love and Thunder finally makes Valkyrie’s sexuality crystal-clear. Midway through the movie, a previous girlfriend of hers is mentioned in a conversation with Korg (who is also confirmed gay in the film). There are also subtle signs of her interest in Jane, as Valkyrie seems to be flirting with her, and even tells Thor that she’s “Team Jane.”
The Importance of Valkyrie’s Queerness in Thor 4
While Valkyrie’s sexuality and romantic life aren’t heavily explored in Love and Thunder, making her bisexuality apparent is a step in the right direction for the MCU. The film also portrays her sexual identity in a way that is meaningful yet isn’t the focal point of her character. In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Thompson says she and director Waititi talked a lot about how to include Valkyrie’s sexuality in the most recent film.
“It was a big topic of conversation,” she said. “Because I think rightfully there’s this real want in audiences to see characters be very clearly queer or LGBTQIA inside these spaces. And I think it’s hugely important to have representation.”
“And also as humans, I think that we are not defined by our sexuality, and by who we love. And so sometimes I think to hang a narrative completely on that is a way of actually diminishing the humanity of the character. Because you don’t allow them to be anything else.”
Thompson could not be more right. The best queer characters are the ones that are depicted with nuance and balance, who have personality and strengths and weaknesses and things that don’t center on their sexuality or gender identity. A vast majority of film and television characters are cisgender and heterosexual, and while those are important parts of their identities, their storylines aren’t solely focused on their sexuality and gender. And that’s what LGBTQ+ folks are asking for, to see themselves on screen as wholly developed characters who happen to be LGBTQ+.
What Tessa Thompson Thinks of Portraying an Openly Queer Valkyrie
Valkyrie in Thor: Love and Thunder gives Marvel and Disney a little more credit in the area of queer representation. She’s a bi character in a central role, not a fleeting 60-second cameo of someone who might be gay, if you watch closely enough; a bi character that is multifaceted, interesting, and admirable, along with having an LGBTQ identity. Marvel and Disney have a long way to go as far as representation, but King Valkyrie is a small movement in a positive direction.
Thompson is satisfied with where Love and Thunder took her character. In the same Yahoo interview, the actress states, “I hope that [Valkyrie’s] a character that fans continue to connect to, that we have a lot of time to explore her, in all of her humanity… [She’s] still a fabulous queer character that is open to finding love when it makes sense.”