Marvel Comics is about to introduce a whole new version of Valkyrie, one clearly inspired by Tessa Thompson's character in the movie Thor: Ragnarok.
Last year's Ragnarok was a box office juggernaut, and it introduced moviegoers to a whole new superhero. Tessa Thompson played Valkyrie, a boozy warrior woman who proved quite popular. Although the Valkyrie character was lifted from the comics, she was heavily adapted for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The comics have traditionally portrayed Valkyrie as a busty blonde-haired warrior dressed in tight-fitting armor. Instead, Ragnarok director Taika Waititi reinvented Valkyrie to add a dash of diversity to his film. Thompson's costume was visually striking, but was more leather than metal.
Marvel Comics is choosing to follow Waititi's lead, introducing a whole new Valkyrie. Part of a dimension-hopping superteam, this Valkyrie is deliberately patterned after Thompson. "Though she's not technically from the Marvel Cinematic Universe reality," writer Saladin Ahmed explained, "she's basically the literalization of the larger-than-her-physical-frame swagger that Tessa Thompson displayed in Thor: Ragnarok, turned up to 11." Artist Javier Rodriguez carefully created a design that blends the MCU and comic book versions, and series editor Will Moss excitedly described the character's physical design as a "nice combo."
This is a smart approach on Marvel's part. The new Valkyrie will be introduced in the upcoming series of Exiles, a comic that's traditionally allowed Marvel to reinvent their heroes. The Exiles are the defenders of reality itself, traveling across the dimensions to fight evil. They've always tended to include alternate-Earth versions of mainstream heroes (usually X-Men). This time round, the team is led by the teleporter Blink, the time-traveling Iron Lad, an aged version of Ms. Marvel known as Khan, and a cute cartoon version of Wolverine. The Valkyrie who joins up will be "Lone Defender of Asgard". She's described as "a tankard-draining, maiden-wooing, giant-slaying thunderbolt of a woman."
Attentive readers will have noticed that Marvel is trying to reorient its comics around the films. The publishing company had a difficult year in 2017, with poor sales and a succession of scandals. Their strategy seems to be to shift to reflect the films, and not just the MCU movies, either. Exiles includes a version of Blink, a character who plays a prominent role in the X-Men TV series The Gifted. Marvel also recently announced a Domino comic, capitalizing on the mercenary's upcoming appearance in Deadpool 2. Naturally, it's far too soon to say whether or not this strategy will pay off.
The intriguing question is whether or not the movies will actually adapt this idea from the comics. Thompson's Valkyrie was tremendously popular. Meanwhile, Chris Hemsworth is coming to the end of his contract as Thor. It's possible Marvel Studios will envision Valkyrie as the "Lone Defender of Asgard". In that case, the Exiles series could test the ground for future solo Valkyrie movies.
Exiles #1 will be on sale from 4/11/2018.
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