Diversity has been a push in the superhero-movie realm for some time now, with audience members and film journalists asking for better representation for minority characters in top Marvel and DC features. The studios have been listening, and decisions made on upcoming projects seem to reflect an awareness of the need to feature more on-screen heroes that resemble the people in the theaters paying to watch. Thor: Ragnaork, for example, will feature an LGBTQ character when Tessa Thompson brings Valkyrie to the screen, as the actress recently confirmed the warrior's bisexuality, explaining:
This Twitter exchange stems from the online debate of how Valkyrie is changing in his adaptation from the pages of Marvel Comics to the big screen in Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok. And yet, that misses the point of how numerous characters have been reshaped and repurposed for the benefit of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the changes arguably are made for the better. While the core Marvel characters can and do resemble their comic-book counterparts -- from Thor and Hulk to Iron Man and Spider-Man -- the supporting players tend to have a flexibility that allows the movies to change with the times, the way that the comics are trying to so, as well.
Both Marvel and DC have been introducing LGBTQ characters into their universes for decades. The mutant Northstar, a member of team Alpha Flight, is remembered as the first mainstream gay character to appear in a Marvel book, showing up in 1979 (though not recognized as openly gay until years later). Since then, though, characters from The Question to the popular X-Man Bobby Drake have represented the LGBTQ community in today's comic books. Having not seen Thor: Ragnarok yet, I'm not sure how (or if) Taika Waititi and Tessa Thompson have addressed Valkyrie's bisexuality in the context of the story. But the actress is taking the discussion to social media, giving this Marvel hero a new layer on screen.
In Thor: Ragnarok, the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) returns to Asgard to find his step-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) causing all kinds of problems. Thor's attempts to restore order land him on Sakaar, where Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) recruits him for a gladiator battle against none other than The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). The latest trailer is kind of a must-see.
It's worth noting that Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie might not be the first and only gay character in the MCU. Earlier this year, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn said that with so many people in the MCU, there's likely to be other gay characters that we just haven't addressed because their sexuality was not relevant to the story. Was he referencing Valkyrie? Or could there be other gay MCU characters who will come out as the universe continues to expand?
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.