Probably the most persistent criticism of the Marvel Cinematic Universe cycle of films is that they're more than a little lacking in the area of diversity. And while some of that issue can be chalked up to faithfully adapting characters largely created decades ago, it doesn't always look good next to other factors like no less than three of their major franchises being headlined by white men of the similar age all named Chris. But on the flip side, Idris Elba as Thor supporting-player Heimdall, one of the studio's most notable race-swapped characters, has also been the subject of controversy due to the comic book character and the Norse mythological figure he's based on having traditionally been depicted as white.
Now, a new rumor suggests that the Thor franchise could be doubling down on its diversified vision of Asgard. To be exact, Tessa Thompson's mystery Thor: Ragnarok role is (allegedly) that of Brunhilde the Valkyrie.
The character of Brunhilde has a convoluted history in terms of both Norse mythology and the reimagined version thereof that forms the basis of her Marvel Comics incarnation, where she is typically referred to be her title, "Valkyrie." In traditional Germanic mythology and Poetic Edda (Old Norse mythic poetry) The Valkyrie are supernatural warrior women who choose which souls of dead warriors are fit to enter Valhalla, and Brunhilde (originally spelled Brynhild) is often depicted either as one of them or a similarly-aligned shieldmaiden. The character (believed to have been inspired by a historic Visigoth princess, Brunhilda of Austrasia) also appears in slightly different form as the female lead of the epic poem Nibelungenlied and Wagner's opera adaptation Ring of The Nibelung, likely the most well-known depiction globally.
In traditional Marvel lore, Brunhilde is the eponymous leader of The Valkyrie, who serve their traditional mythological function but with the same "interdimensional aliens viewed as gods by ancient humanity" backstory as the other Asgardians. Typically depicted as a warrior woman with strength and combat skills comparable to those of Thor himself, she's been a mainstay of the Marvel Universe since her introduction in a 1970 issue of The Avengers - serving for multiple tours as part of the upstart superhero team The Defenders and occassionally presenting as a romantic interest for Thor. She travels by means of a winged horse named Aragorn and is a master swordswoman, traditionally armed with a magic sword named Dragonfang - which, notably, she originally receives as a gift from Doctor Strange.
If this Thor: Ragnarok casting rumor (first floated in a spoiler-heavy report by Latino Review) is correct, it would be the highest-profile mainstream movie role Thompson has tackled thus far; along with likely being viewed by many as another much-needed diversity move by Marvel, considering that Brunhilde is traditionally depicted as a blonde white woman in her comic appearances. Earlier rumors had pegged the Dear White People and Creed star as the female lead of the film and a potential love-interest for Chris Hemsworth's Thor, though without any specificity as to who she might actually be playing.
The storyline of Thor: Ragnarok, menawhile, remains a closely-guarded secret. What's known at present is that it will take place mostly away from Earth, involve Thor reuniting and teaming up with an AWOL Incredible Hulk, an encounter with a yet-unidentified female villain played by Cate Blanchett and potentially play a more central role in the MCU mythos than previous Thor installments as the last movie starring an original-team Avenger to hit before Infinity War: Part I. It's heavily speculated that the storyline will involve Thor and company visiting the world of the dead, and that Blanchett's character is Hela, Norse Goddess of Death.
Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange– November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1– May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.
Source: Latino Review
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