Valkyrie is the newest superhero in the MCU. Played by Tessa Thompson in Thor: Ragnarok, Valkyrie is an Asgardian warrior, ripped from the pages of Marvel comics, where in turn she was based on a character of the same name from Norse mythology.
But the celluloid Valkyrie is different to any version that has gone before; a very modern warrior, and member of what one Thor producer has termed “Odin’s SEAL Team Six.” The following is therefore everything you need to know about your new favourite kick-ass heroine.
Valkyrie in Norse Mythology
In Norse mythology, Valkyrie is a female figure who decides which fallen warriors gain admittance to Valhalla. She’s one of a host of women who choose which soldiers live and die in battle, and then accompany them into the afterlife, where they join the Odin to fight by his side during Ragnarok.
Valkyrie is oftentimes portrayed as a romantic character in poetry; a beautiful, charming, noble maiden who, when not protecting the fallen, is prone to falling in love with heroic mortal men.
But there are more sinister versions of Valkyrie that revolve around her taking pleasure in predicting the dark destiny of warriors, and even using magic to ensure she gets her picks into the afterlife.
Valkyrie in the Comics
Created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema in December 1980, the comic book version of Valkyrie first appeared in The Avengers #83. Kind of. This first incarnation wasn’t the real Valkyrie, but rather a disguise used by the Enchantress. It wasn’t until Defenders #4 in February 1973 that we got Valkyrie proper.
In that version she assumed the human body of Barbara Norris for some time. Though that wasn’t the only human form Valkyrie took, with the character also inhabiting the bodies of Samantha Parrington and Sian Bowen in later adventures.
Valkyrie is the strongest of the Valkyrior, with the usual Asgardian powers of strength, stamina, and superhuman skills in battle, largely revolving around her magic sword Dragonfang.
That aforementioned job also means she has some pretty unusual powers, including seeing when the end is approaching for the living, and being able to transport those who are passing away to the realm of the dead.
Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok
In Thor: Ragnarok, Valkyrie draws on elements from both the comics and mythology, but also adds something fresh and modern to the equation.
Tessa Thompson told Collider: “Norse mythology is mystifying and fantastic and totally confusing, but you can draw a lot of inspiration from it. The exciting thing for us was to create a Valkyrie that is a combination of all those things. If you look at her origin in the comics, sometimes she’s on earth, sometimes she’s on Asgard, sometimes she’s with The Fearless Defenders; it’s all different. So it left us a lot of leeway. The cool thing about working with [director] Taika [Waititi] is he has a healthy respect for the comics but also a total irreverence in the sense that he’s like ‘Let’s create something new.'”
On the film’s set, producer Brad Winderbaum told IGN that this film version is more like a modern-day soldier or marine. “In terms of Valkyrie as an idea, Valkyrie in the comics is traditionally the character Brunnhilde, who comes to be known as Valkyrie,” he explained. “And calling someone Valkyrie is like referring to someone as solider. Our view of the Valkyrie in the MCU is that they were basically Odin’s special ops, you know, his SEAL team six.”
In terms of look, in a progressive move, Marvel has cast the very non-white, non-blonde Thompson as a character that’s traditionally white and blonde (“Idris Elba needs company. He can’t be the only black person in the neighbourhood,” Thompson joked with Collider). And regarding costume, Valkyrie will have two uniforms, starting the film in something akin to what she wears in the comics, and then wearing more battle-ready leather and chainmail late on, with the character wielding two daggers, and a sword that’s very probably Dragonfang.
As the film begins, Winderbraum reveals that she has “suffered the trauma of war and we meet her in a really low place,” and we reckon that’s probably because of something that the film’s villain Hela has done.
She also appears to be working as some kind of bounty hunter for Grandmaster on Sakaar, with Thompson telling Entertainment Weekly “She does have a relationship with Jeff Goldblum’s character — it’s a business relationship.”
The film’s trailer backs that up, featuring a shot of Valkyrie dragging Thor into what’s very probably Grandmaster’s ‘Contest of Champions.’ But it sounds like the pair soon make friends, with Thompson telling Collider “She’s no longer with her tribe of Valkyrie anymore. She meets Thor and Hulk and they have a similar goal. They become friends and teammates in a way.”
So expect to see Valkyrie, Thor and Hulk doing battle with Hela at the end of Ragnarok, and potentially turning into a team that’s carried over into the forthcoming Avengers: Infinity War.
“In the next phase, the hope is to find ways to interweave all these characters” Thomspon told EW. “Certainly with Infinity War, those are the culmination of a lot of work since Iron Man. She’s part of the tapestry now.”
Thor: Ragnarok hits UK screens on October 24 and US screens on November 3.