LGBTQ+ representation in the MCU has always left something to be desired. After a decade of films that never really gave any attention to love stories, straight or otherwise, the priorities are shifting now that Marvel is moving towards television. WandaVision played with classic romance tropes, and Loki showed that Loki’s gender and sexuality are fluid.
Will this carry over into the movies? Phastos, the openly gay Eternal, is a good sign, but what about Valkyrie, Thor’s purportedly non-straight successor? Actress Tessa Thompson has word on what lies ahead for her.
In an interview with The Wrap, Tessa Thompson expanded on why Valkyrie’s identity is important for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and what can be expected in Thor: Love and Thunder, the fourth installment in Thor’s journey.
Thompson acknowledges both the progress the MCU has yet to make, as well as the canonical queerness of many characters within the comics (Loki, for example, was genderfluid and pansexual years before Loki hinted at it). She also said that while she and director Taika Waititi wanted to make Valkyrie’s identity more explicit, “there’s only so much we can do.”
So what’s ahead for Valkyrie? “Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of time invested in love stories in Marvel movies in general,” Thompson said. “I think that will be a little different on the new Thor, which is exciting. And getting to play a character that historically is not written for somebody that looks like me, all of that felt exciting.”
This isn’t the only good sign for a Valkyrie-focused love story. Previously, reasoning for the exclusion of non-straight romances was focused on the strict censorship rules surrounding Chinese cinematic releases. However, with the success of recent releases like Shang-Chi and Eternals, Marvel might not need to depend on the foreign market — Spider-Man: No Way Home doesn’t even have a Chinese release date yet.
Without the built-in excuse of a conservative film market, any exclusion of LGBTQ+ characters in the MCU is purely a content decision. Thompson’s statement makes it seem like Valkyrie will finally get her due in Thor 4, but will this trend continue? In a superhero world bent on making powerful characters feel human, there are few better ways than giving them a love story, regardless of who they love.
Thor: Love and Thunder premieres July 8, 2022.