Marvel Studios has an impressive release slate this year, with three massive movies set to hit the big screen. Thus far, the studio has been focusing on promoting Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2, which comes out in May, although we've also seen some fantastic glimpses of Spider-Man: Homecoming (out in July). Given how highly anticipated these two movies are (The return of the Guardians! Spider-Man in the MCU!), it's not too surprising that the third Marvel release of 2017, Thor: Ragnarok, hasn't been getting much attention at all.
This third solo Thor movie hits theaters in November, and while the previous Thor offering (Thor: The Dark World) wasn't exactly everything we were hoping for, Thor: Ragnarok looks set to bring this Asgardian hero back on top. We've got a female villain in Hela (Cate Blanchett), a fantastic new aesthetic thanks to director Taika Waititi, and although there is no sign of Sif (Jaimie Alexander), there's a new warrior woman at Thor's side: Valkyrie.
Valkyrie's Comic Book History
Brunnhilde (Valkyrie's true name) is an Asgardian, one of the few women in that realm to train as a warrior (another being Sif, of course). She so impressed Odin with her prowess and her honor that he gave her command of the Valkyrior, the female demi-goddesses who collect the souls of the slain from battle and carry them to Valhalla. Many years later, Valkyrie was tricked by Amora, who trapped her essence in a crystal and began to use her powers for her own ends. This was how Valkyrie first came to Earth: when her powers were granted to Samantha Parrington, a rich, feminist socialite. She was then bound up a second time with a mortal woman: Barbara Norris. This time, however, it wasn't just her powers that were sent down. Brunnhilde existed entirely within Barbara's body, and became a member of the Defenders as Barbara. Eventually, she was able to return to her own body, but decided to remain a Defender rather than return to Asgard.
Valkyrie spent much of her comic career as a Defender, before eventually returning to Asgard to take up her position at the head of the Valkyrior once more. This led to her involvement in Ragnarok, as she fought in Asgard at the time - and was killed, along with many of the other Asgardians who fell. However, we all know that comic book deaths are rarely permanent, and Valkyrie was later re-born as Valerie. After a period of amnesia, she returned to a life as a superhero, this time joining the new Secret Avengers. Throughout her comic run, she has been everything that we would imagine an Asgardian shieldmaiden to be: powerful, immensely strong, occasionally hot-headed, and incredibly talented with her weapons. As leader of the Valkyrior, she can also sense someone's impending death.
Tessa Thompson: Rising Star
We don't know how much of Brunnhilde's story is going to make it from the comics to the big screen, but we do know who will be playing her - Tessa Thompson. This rising star may look a little different to the comic version of Valkyrie (no long blonde braids in sight), but she is poised to hit the big time with this MCU role.
Thompson got her start on TV, with her first big break as Jackie Cook in Veronica Mars. From there, the young star has appeared in a huge range of TV series and films, including Selma, Creed, and Dear White People. She's shown her comfort in period pieces (like Copper, set in the 1860s), as well as action, drama, and comedy. Thor: Ragnarok won't even be her first time in the superhero genre, as she appeared in Heroes as Rebecca Taylor. Most recently, you may recognize her from HBO's latest sex-and-violence sci-fi hit Westworld. She's certainly got the talent and experience to do something phenomenal with Valkyrie, and is at the perfect point in her career to join the MCU family.
What Will Happen In Ragnarok?
So where does Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie fit in to Thor: Ragnarok? Thus far, we don't know too much about how she's going to play into the story, but we can certainly make a few educated guesses. We've seen her in battle armor on the new Ragnarok cover of Entertainment Weekly, as well as on set in her armor and bright blue cape. We also know that neither Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) or Lady Sif are going to be playing a major part in this latest installment of the Thor mythology, so it's safe to say that Valkyrie is probably going to become Thor's (Chris Hemsworth) right hand woman. She does have a little bit of a romantic interest in Thor in the comics, but this isn't a huge part of her character, and we're hoping that these two Asgardians are friends in battle more than romantic interests for each other.
We do know that most of this movie is going to take place off-Earth, and that Thor is going to be battling Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) on the planet Sakaar, before these two Avengers join forces to go on a cosmic road-trip. We don't know where Thor meets Valkyrie, but he has been described as a bit of a 'fan boy' of hers, so it's likely that he and Hulk go to seek her out to join them in their attempts to save Asgard. We're definitely going to see some amazing Valkyrie-based fight scenes, and we may even see Valkyrie go head-to-head with Hulk as she has in the comics.
Valkyrie's Future In The MCU
We don't yet know if Valykrie is going to make it out of Thor: Ragnarok alive, but we hope so. This is a perfect opportunity to add another powerful female hero to the MCU, and we'd love to see Thompson in next year's Avengers: Infinity War. She could, of course, simply remain a recurring character in Thor's corner of the MCU, but this is the perfect character to cross over into the main Marvel Universe, either as a member of the Defenders or the Avengers.
In the comics, Valkyrie has been a member of both teams. She is probably better known as a Defender, but there are several reasons that she would work best as an Avenger for the MCU. For starters, the Defenders series (on Netflix) has been slowly and carefully growing for some time now, with each of the major players on the team getting their own solo series to begin with. We will be seeing all four team up very soon, but this was a beautifully thought-out plan that simply doesn't lend itself to the sudden appearance of an Asgardian warrior. In addition, although the Netflix shows exist in the same universe as the rest of the MCU, they haven't directly crossed over yet, and when that happens, we want to see it done right. Adding Valkyrie to the Defenders would seem a very clumsy move, and a bit of a wasted opportunity for a first crossover. Finally, in purely practical terms, it would be difficult for Thompson to film two full series concurrently - with her returning to Westworld for season two, joining the Netflix universe might just be a little too tough to balance.
It makes far more sense to send her to the Avengers. She will be fighting alongside two of the original Avengers in Thor: Ragnarok, so if Valkyrie is looking for a place to belong, the Avengers would be a logical first step. The team is also currently dealing with a lot of newer, less experienced members. Bringing in someone as capable as Valkyrie would help balance out that roster. It would also help to bring together some of the different tones in the MCU, adding a little magic and mythology to some of the more down-to-earth heroes, helping to blur the lines between 'Earth heroes' and 'Space heroes' and keeping some Asgardian flavor on Earth when Thor isn't around.
Of course, this is all speculation for now, and we'll have to wait and see how Thor: Ragnarok plays out before discovering where Thompson's Valkyrie might land in the MCU. That said, this is a phenomenal character with a rich backstory played by a talented actress on the brink of stardom... we'd be surprised if she didn't pay a visit to Avengers Tower soon.
Would you like to see Valkyrie become an Avenger? Comment and let us know!