As any comic book fan will attest, Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie is very different to the one Marvel writer Roy Thomas created back in the '70s. Her powers, abilities and fighting style have all been retained. She still wields the sword Dragonfang. But visually, Thompson is no blonde-haired warrior woman. What's more, her character bears few similarities to Brunnhilde.
Initially, we'd believed Marvel had simply reinterpreted Valkyrie for a modern age. But is it possible #Marvel has actually done something very different? Could Thompson's Valkyrie be a whole new character?
Warning: This fan theory contains mild spoilers for Thor: Ragnarok.
Let's Test The Theory
Speaking to CBR, Taika Waititi admitted that he faced a real challenge when casting for Ragnarok.
Right from the start we wanted to diversify the cast, and it’s hard when you’re working with Vikings. [Laughs.] You want to be more inclusive and provide a broader representation. And at that point, you have to look at the source material as a very loose inspiration. And then take it from there and go with your gut. Say, 'You know what? None of that stuff matters. Just because the character was blonde and white in the comic book. That doesn’t matter. That’s not what [that character] is about.'
While his desire to push diversity is laudable, many fans would disagree. Waititi forgets that comics are primarily a visual medium, and thus by changing a character's look and feel so much you do frustrate fans of the original comics. The Ragnarok director goes on to explain that "the story is king," and that philosophy has transformed his portrayal of Valkyrie. Not only is the Valkyrie of Ragnarok different in terms of the visuals, she's also very different in her character traits. The Valkyrie of the comics has never been portrayed as bitter, broken and hopeless. Instead, she's every bit as dynamic and motivated a hero as Thor himself.
So, while the character of Ragnarok identifies as Valkyrie, she's totally different. And here's where it gets interesting — nowhere does the film refer to the character as Brunnhilde. She's instead referred to as "Seeker" or "Valkyrie," never by name. When Thor sees her mystic sword, he refers to it as "a" Dragonfang, suggesting that in the #MCU, a Dragonfang is a legendary class of blade wielded by all Valkyrior. The film offers no evidence that this needs to be the same character at all.
But Did We Actually See Brunnhilde?
Now cast your eyes to a particular scene in Thor: Ragnarok, where Loki forces Valkyrie to relive her memories of the day Hela slaughtered her fellow shieldmaidens. As harrowing as it must have been for Valkyrie to see her people killed by the Goddess of Death, her mind focuses in on one particular moment. There, another Valkyrie — one who looks much more like the comic book hero — gives her life to save Thompson's character.
Is it possible this other Valkyrie is Brunnhilde, leader of the Valkyrior? What's more, given the extent to which Thompson's character focuses in on her, could they have been more than just close friends?
The weeks building up to Ragnarok's release saw a surprising controversy over whether or not Valkyrie is actually bisexual. Things all kicked off when Thompson, referring to the comic book version of the character, noted:
Frustratingly, we've since learned that Marvel actually cut a scene that would have confirmed this. Waititi filmed a scene of a woman walking out of Valkyrie's bedroom, insinuating her sexuality, but that didn't make it past the editing-room floor.
Thompson ultimately clarified that her character's sexuality "isn't explicitly addressed" in the film. Note the key word, "explicitly." That suggests Thompson believes there's something there if you care to see it, and the memory seems to be the key scene. The emotional damage Valkyrie has suffered from battling Hela seems to run deeper than simply seeing her comrades killed. Is it possible that the warrior who saved Valkyrie's life from Hela was actually her lover?
So our fan theory is taking shape. The reason Thompson's Valkyrie is so different to the character from the comics? Because she's another Valkyrie, a different character in the first place. Instead of being Brunnhilde, it's possible that she's actually Brunnhilde's lover. She saw her leader and sweetheart killed by Hela, and found her way to Sakaar. She's lived there for millennia, losing herself in a new identity, all in an effort to escape her eternal grief.
This is only a fan theory, but it's an intriguing one. It offers a subtle solution to the clear difference between the #Valkyrie of the comics and of the movies, while subtly weaving Brunnhilde into the ongoing story of the MCU. Ragnarok carefully avoids referring to Valkyrie by name, presumably allowing viewers to make this distinction if we so choose. And that's an intriguing approach to take.
Do you think the Valkyrie of Ragnarok is actually Brunnhilde? Let me know your views on this fan theory in the comments!