With the release dates for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming inching ever closer, it's easy to overlook the other big #Marvel release of the year: Thor: Ragnarok. And Ragnarok could be one of the best installments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet, as it has Taika Waititi at the helm, perhaps one of the best directors currently active.
And last week our excitement levels for Ragnarok were piqued again, with the first round of images from the movie released via Entertainment Weekly. The cover in particular raised a lot of eyebrows, as it revealed #ChrisHemsworth's Thor in possession of a shiny new hair cut. RIP luscious locks.
Where Them Girls At?
But another exciting thing about the EW cover is the fact that it's probably the first time we've ever seen an #MCU male character presented with two females front and center. Because though the pages of Marvel Comics are chock full of strong and interesting female characters, the MCU thus far hasn't really done the best job of translating them. By the time Captain Marvel rolls around in 2019, it will have been 11 years and 21 movies by the time we get our first solo female #superhero fronted movie from them.
And Thor: Ragnarok — after nine years and 17 movies — marks the first time a major villain of the MCU is female, as well as the first movie written solely by a female screenwriter (Stephany Folsom). Because for Ragnarok, screen legend Cate Blanchett takes on the role of the villainess Hela, the MCU's Goddess of Death.
But Ragnarok doesn't just introduce Hela, it also brings a new female warrior to the forefront in the form of Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie. #Valkyrie in the comics is an iteration of a fair-skinned, blonde-haired Norse goddess (Brynhildr), which is why Thompson's casting is such an interesting one.
Not Just A Ticked Box
Gaining recognition for her role in Veronica Mars before going on to achieve universal acclaim for playing Bianca in Ryan Coogler's Creed and Charlotte Hale in Westworld, Thompson is a hot ticket in Hollywood right now. Chosen by Waititi to portray the traditionally fair Valkyrie, her casting was on the strength of her acting, not merely an attempt to add diversity to the MCU, as many naysayers may accuse.
On the subject of Thompson's casting, Waititi said:
"I’m not obsessed with the idea that you have to cast someone just to tick a box. You should cast people because they’re talented. [With Valkyrie] I wanted to make sure we weren’t making a female character that was boring and pretty. What I wanted was someone who was going to play the opposite and be even more of the 'guy' character than the guys. Ultimately I thought Tessa was the best person we found."
And Thompson is incredibly talented. One day hopefully we may not continue to need to have this discussion about race and diversity in Hollywood, but sadly right now we still do. As Thompson told EW:
"I think the unfortunate thing about a lot of these fantasy movies is when they’re based on source material a lot of these comics were written in a time when that wasn’t a part of the conversation as far as having representation. Not just having characters that reflect the world we live in but how we represent the characters."
But how is Ragnarok reinventing Valkyrie as a character for the MCU? Thompson's recent chat with EW has given us a better idea of what to expect from her character in the upcoming movie.
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What We Learned About Valkyrie
As in the comics, Valkyrie is an Asgardian. Thompson reveals that she and Thor first meet upon Sakaar (the Planet Hulk planet), where Valkyrie is working for the business interests of Jeff Goldblum's Grandmaster. She discovers Thor upon the planet and brings him to the Grandmaster, presumably so he can fight in the Gladiator pits. But the rest, Thompson says, is a secret.
Thompson describes Valkyrie's new outfit as "sort of a Taika remix." Marvel granted him a measure of authority to deal with the characters as he saw fit, which led us to short-haired Thor, a war-paint wearing Valkyrie, and "a [Bruce] Banner like you’ve never seen before." Valkyrie's new look is less Norse armor, more leather, chain mail, and a "very special sword."
"If we were also dedicated to the source material, Valkyrie would potentially be a female Thor but she’s fighting in basically a bathing suit, which is also absurd. So we had a conversation of, what is a strong look? Like, she should probably be in pants. That probably makes more sense for the kind of work she’s doing. And we had conversations about her sort of feeling like a tomboy and having a certain masculinity about her while still being very much a woman."
Taking a sensible approach to clothing a female superhero? Well we never! Take note, Black Widow (and zip up your jumpsuit before you knock somebody out).
Thor: Ragnarok releases November 3rd in the US. What are you most excited to see in the movie? Tell us in the comments below!
(Source: Entertainment Weekly)