Marvel Comics’ version of Valkyrie made her live-action debut in Thor: Ragnarok, leaving many fans to wonder: “Who is Valkyrie again?” Well, dear reader, allow us to be of assistance.
Like Thor, Loki, and the rest of her Asgardian compatriots, Valkyrie has deep roots in Norse mythology, making her one of the oldest characters on Marvel’s roster (historically speaking).
The leader of the Valkyrior, Brunnhilde was chosen to be a shieldmaiden by Odin himself, escorting those killed in battle to Valhalla, where the greatest heroes reside and wait for Ragnarok, the final battle at the end of the world.
Eventually, though, Odin cut a deal with the Celestials, banning the Valkyrior from Earth, and he and Valkyrie had a falling out. The Norsewoman soon found herself cast to the realm of Midgard, as a card-carrying member of the Defenders. Of course, as we’ll soon explain, the journey wasn’t quite so straightforward.
Traditionally drawn as a braided, statuesque woman in silver armor and a blue cape, Valkyrie is, more importantly, distinguished by her strength and feminist doctrine, refusing to be seen as anything less than equal to her male peers -- ideals that current Valkyrie, Tessa Thompson, has in spades.
So grab your sword and your winged steed, because here are the 15 Things You Didn't Know About Valkyrie In Thor: Ragnarok.
15 She’s Been a Villain (Kind Of)
Amora the Enchantress, after trapping Valkyrie in a crystal, gained the ability to replicate Val’s form at will. She granted jaded feminist Samantha Parrington the powers of the shieldmaiden.
Samantha-Valkyrie used this newfound strength to immediately attack the Hulk, angry that the green giant (and her father) got all the credit for saving the Statue of Liberty, even though her plan was the one that did the saving. Sam-Val and the Hulk fight to a standstill, then go their separate ways, neither entirely understanding what the heck just happened.
Decades later, after getting her own body back, Valkyrie is working with the Fearless Defenders to defeat the Doom Maidens, Odin’s insane OG murder squad. Along the way, Val discovers that she’s actually one of them: the Maiden of Rage.
Tapping into that power (by siphoning energy from Dani Moonstar) Val goes full ancient berserker and defeats the other Maidens – hooray – only to start wailing on her teammates – boo – which, at this point, is most of the ladies in the Marvel universe.
In the end, Valkyrie’s cured by the power of love -- but not before killing her girlfriend, Annabelle Riggs, in the process.
14 She Can Sense Death
As one of the Valkyrior, Odin’s trusted shieldmaidens and the Choosers of the Slain, Brunnhilde has the immensely fun ability to sense impending death and doom. Called a “deathglow,” the ability causes a kind of purple aura to surround a soon-to-be cadaver, and, uh, that’s really it.
Valkyrie doesn’t know how someone’s going to die, and there’s usually not anything she can do to stop it. The glow is basically just a dinner bell, letting the Valkyrior know that it’s time to mount up and start ushering folks to Valhalla.
Speaking of, since escorting souls is the main job of the Valkyries, it’s probably not a surprise to find out that Val can transport herself (and any dead people nearby) to Valhalla at will. No pesky rainbow bridges or asking Heimdall for help for her. Eat it, Thor.
13 Her Origin Story Comes Directly from the Norse Völsunga Saga
“Tales of Asgard” was a running back-up feature in early Thor comics that essentially illustrated old Norse myths and made them Marvel canon. A few years in, these back-ups became so popular that, starting with Journey Into Mystery #104, they became the main story. Why wouldn’t they? Norse myths are nuts.
The Völsunga Saga, a 13th century Icelandic text, and Nibelungenlied, a high German epic poem, specifically, were the basis for Valkyrie’s early days – both of which seemed to have been based on real-life sixty century Merovingian queen Brunhild.
Marvel cleaned up their interpretation a bit, changing a few names and eliminating all the child murder and wife-swapping, but the gist is this: Brunnhilde had a brief and torrid affair with Siegfried, the mortal incarnation of Thor. Then things went sideways and everyone died.
Incidentally, those same texts also informed Wagner’s Ring cycle operas, which is, at least partly, where we get the expression “It’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings.” That fat lady, by the way, is Valkyrie.
12 She's the Last of the Valkyrior
After years of watching over the battlefields of Germany and Scandinavia, the Valkyrior are, all of a sudden, forbidden from contact with Earth. Odin, it seems, made a deal with the Celestials, and the warrior women were part of the bargain.
Valkyrie doesn’t take too kindly to this and, deciding to leave Asgard, turns to Amora the Enchantress for help. Instead, because she’s evil, Enchantress traps Brunnhilde’s soul in a crystal for a couple hundred years. In the interim, the remaining Valkyrior are killed in a massive war between Odin and Hela (something that looks like it will play out in the upcoming Ragnarok).
Odin eventually restores the Valkyrior to life, but only within the walls of Valhalla – which, as far as the balance of the universe is concerned, doesn’t count. As a result, Valkyrie is tasked with finding new Valkyrior, something she emphatically does not do.
Instead, she teams up with Misty Knight and forms the Fearless Defenders, a team made up of half the women in the Marvel universe – many of whom are already in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, hint hint.
11 She Battled Two of Her Duplicates (at the Same Time)
Greek god Pluto goes to the Asgardian Ice Queen, Lorelei, and asks for his own Valkyrie. The queen obliges, shoving the essence of Valkyrie back into Samantha Parrington, feminist and former Hulk-fighter.
Pluto thinks that’s great and all, but he still goes ahead and mindwipes Lorelei, tricking her into thinking that she’s the real Valkyrie. Both of them are sent to Earth.
The Defenders’ leader Nighthawk finds Lore-kyrie and, thinking she’s the real Valkyrie (Brunnhilde) invites her to join the team again. Sam-kyrie, meanwhile, is trying to raise an army of the dead for Pluto. Both sides meet and fight and then the actual Valkyrie rolls up with a fleet of Valkyrior to set things right. Also, Zeus is there.
Anyway, once the dust settles, Lorelei is herself again, Sam-kyrie is the new Valkyrie, gifted with the real Val’s sword and flying horse, and Brunnhilde goes back to chill in Asgard – at least until The Defenders got rebooted again.
10 Ultimate Valkyrie is Kind of Awful
For anyone not in the know, Ultimate Marvel was an imprint of Marvel Comics, featuring re-imagined and updated versions of most of the company's characters.
Originally existing as its own separate thing, the Ultimate universe was merged with the real Marvel universe at the end of “Secret Wars.” Some people complained, but not many, because all the good ideas (like Miles Morales) were kept, while all the nonsense was jettisoned.
Speaking of nonsense... Ultimate Valkyrie was, in her first appearance, a teenage Valley Girl with no superpowers. Still, she acted like she had them, joining the equally as terrible Ultimate Defenders and calling herself Thor-Girl.
Later, she was given actual super powers and a sword and a couple kick-butt moments, but she was still just a ditzy blonde for some reason.
9 Her Sword Was Carved From a Dragon's Tooth
Asgardians aren’t exactly known for their tact. No, Thor and friends are famous for having crazy weapons and hitting things real good. Valkyrie does not disappoint on either front.
Brunnhilde is one of the greatest fighters in all of Asgard, and that’s saying something. Trained in unarmed combat and sword fighting, she’s second only to the Lady Sif when it comes to brawling, and has gone toe-to-toe with Thor, Hela, and Odin and lived to walk away.
Aside from her fists, Valkyrie also has an iron spear, a flying horse named Aragorn (that she “borrowed” from Black Knight), and a magic, indestructible sword. Said sword, Dragonfang, was, as you’ve perhaps already guessed, carved from the tooth of a dragon by an primordial sorcerer.
Originally possessed by the Ancient One, the sword was bequeathed to Doctor Strange, who then rebequeathed it to Valkyrie. Which, really, is probably where it should have been from the start.
8 She's the MCU's First LGBTQ Character (on the Big Screen)
To quote Tessa Thompson: “YES! Val is Bi in the comics & I was faithful to that in her depiction. But her sexuality isn’t explicitly addressed in Thor: Ragnarok.”
Even though we may not see it play out on-screen, that still makes Valkyrie the first openly LGBTQ character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe -- with strong emphasis on “cinematic,” of course.
Speaking of years, despite being around since the 1970s, Valkyrie’s bisexuality has only been addressed recently in the comics, starting in 2013’s Fearless Defenders. She had a (very) brief fling with archeologist Annabelle Riggs before shenanigans forced the two to merge bodies and, well, things got a little complicated.
7 She’s Been on the Defenders More Than Anyone Else
Despite being a “non-team,” the Defenders have been around for just about forever, in over a half-dozen iterations at this point.
Originally just Doctor Strange, Hulk, Namor, and occasionally the Silver Surfer, the team was quickly taken over (and made more popular) by a bunch of B-league superheroes in the 1970s, before disbanding and rebanding, with the most current “seriously-we’re-not-a-team” made up of Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil and Iron Fist.
Even with the presence of all those more famous heroes, it’s Valkyrie that’s the true heart of the team. First appearing in The Defenders #4, Val was the first addition outside of the original four, and stayed with the first run of the book for over a decade, through roster changes and the team’s rebranding as The New Defenders, right up until its cancellation and everyone’s death.
Over the years, she’s made several other appearances, including joining full-time for the 2001 reunion and headlining her own Fearless Defenders in 2013.
6 She's BFFs with Hellcat
As a nigh-immortal demigoddess from another plane of being, you’d probably expect Valkyrie to pal around with someone like Thor or Sif, or at least Hercules. However, nope, turns out Val’s closest friend is Patsy Walker, aka. Hellcat.
The two first met as members of the Defenders in the 1970s, hitting it off almost immediately and even sharing an apartment together in later issues.
Even after that version of the team disbanded, Valkyrie and Hellcat have continued to stay in touch, with Hellcat appearing as part of Val’s Fearless Defenders, and Valkyrie assisting (or just getting burgers with) Patsy during Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat! The two most notably teamed up to take down Casiolena, an Asgardian sorceress and one of their first foes with the Defenders.
Valkyrie just can’t seem to shake those evil sorceresses.
5 She's Inhabited a Couple Different Bodies on Earth
The real deal Valkyrie is the Asgardian shieldmaiden Brunnhilde, chosen by Odin the All-Father to lead the Valkyrior. She’s been a member of the Defenders and the Secret Avengers and generally an all-around boss. However, Valkyrie has also been four other women over the years.
First: Samantha Parrington. Enchantress trapped Brunnhilde and siphoned her essence into Samantha Parrington, using her as a puppet to fight the Hulk. Second: Barbara Norriss. Babs was Valkyrie’s mortal host for a stretch of the ‘70s, similar to how Thor had to be Donald Blake for a while.
Third: Samantha Parrington, again. Same deal as before, only the sorceress in question was Lorelei, and Brunnhilde was surprisingly OK with the body-swapping this time. Fourth: Sian Bowen. After Valkyrie (and the rest of the Defenders) are turned to dust by Moondragon, Doctor Strange puts Val into a temporary host body until he can figure out what’s what.
Finally, Annabelle Riggs. After regressing into the Doom Maiden of Rage, Valkyrie kills Annabelle, an act she immediately regrets. Val goes to Valhalla and, as a favor from yet another Asgardian sorceress, Annabelle is returned to life. Only - surprise! - she has to share Val’s body.
4 She Debuted in the Avengers (and also The Incredible Hulk and also The Defenders)
Valkyrie’s first appearance was in The Avengers #83 in 1970. Of course, that was actually just an impersonation of Valkyrie, a guise put on by the Enchantress as she led a team of Lady Liberators against the Avengers.
Val’s next first appearance was in Incredible Hulk #142 in 1971. But, as before, that wasn’t really her either. That Valkyrie was another trick of the Enchantress, this time taking the shieldmaiden’s essence and putting it into unwilling puppet Samantha Parrington.
The actual Brunnhilde Valkyrie didn't make her first appearance until The Defenders #4 in 1973, and even that was a little weird.
Basically, Amora did her same trick again, siphoning Valkyrie’s essence from Asgard and into an Earth woman. But, because the Enchantress was trapped in a magic castle, and because the woman, Barbara Norriss, had just been pulled from the Dark Dimension and wasn’t all there, all of Valkyrie was transferred into her, not just a malleable fragment.
Of course, that wasn’t explained fully for a good long while, and Valkyrie spent her early issues wandering around thinking that she was created whole-cloth from Enchantress’s mind – something that let her bond with fellow Defender, Silver Surfer.
3 She's Been Teammates with Wonder Woman's Mom
Here’s one of the great things about ancient myths that existed way before copyright laws: anyone can use them. Even if, for example, a character is already firmly established in some on your competitor’s comic books. That’s how, during Fearless Defenders, Valkyrie finds herself fighting alongside Hippolyta.
Hippolyta, most famously known as Wonder Woman’s mother, is the actual Greek Queen of the Amazons and daughter of war god Ares. As such, Marvel is, legally, free and clear to do whatever they want with her, even if it absolutely counteracts DC’s stoic queen-- and, man, does Marvel’s Hippolyta counteract.
First of all, she died years ago. Hela drags her out of Hell, hoping that she’ll be useful in stopping a scourge of zombie Vikings and Doom Maidens. She is. After all, Hippolyta’s still the Queen of the Amazons, regardless of publisher.
However, for some reason, Marvel’s made her kind of sassy? For example, she’s making quips about watching movies in Hades. It’s... weird, and a little off-putting. Maybe just let DC have this one, Marvel.
2 She Was Briefly a Giant
Moondragon, most commonly known as a member/foe of the Guardians of the Galaxy, was, at one point, also a member/foe of the Defenders. She was, more to the point, a ward of Valkyrie, who was supposed to keep an eye on Moondragon and make sure she didn’t go AWOL and try to destroy the Earth.
In The New Defenders #144, Moondragon went AWOL and tried to destroy the Earth. See, Moondragon wasn’t a random name. She chose it because, early on, she had fought off the evil Dragon of the Moon, an ancient evil that existed solely to corrupt mankind. The Dragon claims to have almost gotten King Arthur to break bad, and to have been the force that turned Thanos into a Mad Titan.
Anyway, Moondragon wasn’t quite as free of the Dragon as she thought, and, upon being corrupted by him, Valkyrie stepped up to the plate in a big way. Gifted powers by Odin for just such an emergency, Valkyrie grew to enormous proportions, called in some Valkyrior buddies, and stopped Moondragon cold.
Granted, a couple of issues later Moondragon came back and everybody on the team died, but, still, giant-size Valkyrie.
1 Thor Once Went Crazy and Created an Evil Valkyrie
For eleven issues and the better part of a year -- Thors #460-471, to be precise -- Thor went utterly bonkers, created an evil version of Valkyrie, and then got possessed by it.
After years of having to be boring ol’ Donald Blake, having to share his power with Beta Ray Bill, and then merging with Eric Masterson, Thor came down with a nasty case of “warrior madness.”
Originally contained within Thor’s own crumbling conscious, the embodiment of his madness, an Evil Valkyrie, was eventually accidentally made real by Moondragon, at which point E-Val rode shotgun on Thor’s destruction spree.
Evil Valkyrie told the god to attack both Beta Ray Bill and Sif, as well as to beat Ares to (near) death. Later, E-Val convinced Thor that the entire Infinity Watch was their enemy, at which point he beat down Gamora and Drax and stole the Power Gem.
Eventually, Moondragon, Doctor Strange, Adam Warlock, and Thanos managed to trap Evil Valkyrie back in Thor’s mind, at which point a tag-team of Odin and Thor took her out for good.
Are there any other interesting facts about Thor: Ragnarok's Valkyrie we missed? What’s your favorite thing about her? Let us know in the comments!