We still have a few more weeks until the release of Thor: Ragnarok, but the movie is proving to be yet another installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe surrounded with fan controversy. After a fresh round of Twitter promotions, it seems as though some fans of are just now getting a bit unhappy about the appearance of one character in particular and decided to take to the social media platform to air their grievances. The complaints not only stirred up fans who disagreed with Valkyrie's portrayal, but it also got the attention of Westworld actor (and total badass) Evan Rachel Wood.
In response to fans attacking #Marvel for the #ThorRagnarok version of Valkyrie, wherein one particular commenter said she is not Nordic-looking (or sexy) enough, Wood stepped in to defend actor Tessa Thompson and Marvel's decision to cast her. Typically a very active presence on social media, it seems as though Wood is far from finished when it comes to standing up for her fellow actors in Hollywood. Here's what she had to say:
And what was the original offending tweet, you ask? You know, the one that Marvel posted that set off a slew of commenters to pile on to the freaking amazing Valkyrie and make rude comments in the first place? Take a gander:
Seemingly innocuous right? It's just a quick video clip teasing all of the cool things Valkyrie gets to do in Thor: Ragnarok, as well as highlighting her awesome fighting skills. To the average fan, it's easy to see how you can get hyped watching the clip. However, some Twitter users didn't agree and it was one of the following comments that got Wood's attention.
Why Are Evan Rachel Wood's Comments So Important?
Conversations like this unfortunately aren't new in the comic book world. Diehard fans of Marvel comics have been in somewhat of a tailspin as the cinematic universe has expanded to include more diversity with both race and gender. If you recall, complaints notably surfaced back in 2010 when it was revealed that Idris Elba was cast as Heimdall in Thor and Marvel fans once again raised the alarm when a white character in the comics was cast as a character of color for the film.
Over the years it seems as though it's not enough to have Marvel Studios directors and writers talk about how expanding diversity isn't actually ruining the characters or their stories. When it comes down to it, their job is to find the best actors to tell the stories. If that means the characters aren't a complete carbon copy of the source material, then it seems that's a risk they're willing to take.
What it looks like is that it's coming down to Hollywood having to step in and defend each other against toxic comments from diehard fans. Wood stepping up and stating the fact that women can be portrayed in film as anything but a typical white woman in a revealing outfit and still be relevant speaks volumes. She's standing up and taking a stance using what could be considered her white privilege to defend an actor being attacked for nothing but her skin color, and that is an incredible example of what we can do when we see the same things happen outside of the Hollywood bubble.
What the Twitter complaints emphasize is that the fans weren't complaining about the actual portrayal of the character at all. They're not complaining about how Thompson is playing the character, not about the special effects, nor really about anything relevant to the film as a whole. They are complaining about the fact that Thompson is a black actor playing a version of a comic book character that's too tomboyish and not as traditionally feminine for their liking.
Wood's comments raise awareness to the fact that being criticized for being "less feminine" is relatable to more women than you might think. I know that for me personally, being viewed as a traditional woman has always been a difficult topic of conversation for the sheer fact that I've been labeled a "tomboy" for a majority of my life. As a kid who played a lot of sports and wasn't into makeup and other stereotypical girl items or practices, I was never seen as a girl to my peers. You're not seen as potential girlfriend material because you're not the cultural norm, nor are you considered "sexy." It's easy to be brushed off to the side to be overshadowed by fellow women who look and act more like what men are culturally conditioned to expect whether it's through magazines, internet pornography or Hollywood films.
So, What's Really Wrong With Valkyrie?
The bottom line is: There is nothing wrong with Valkyrie. Nothing.
Marvel's decision to show Valkyrie (and other female characters) fully clothed and, in this case, in full armor is not an insult to the character or fans. Casting Valkyrie as a woman of color is not an insult or something that should be considered a disservice to loyal fans. The fact of the matter is these are fictional characters and they can become pretty much anything, whether it's a different skin color or even a gender that presents atypically. Changing Valkyrie's appearance doesn't make her any less strong, any less sexy or any less relevant. Female characters don't have to continuously meet cultural standards for what they have to be for viewers to pay attention to them.