Thor: Ragnarok premiered in the United States last week, and it’s done incredibly well for itself, earning rave reviews and smashing at the box office. While returning mainstays of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk/Bruce Banner, and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki – are given plenty to do, it’s often the new characters who steal the show. The best of which (apologies to Korg) is Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie.
Thompson made an impression on moviegoers and critics by providing a new take on a traditional Marvel character. Instead of the blonde, Brunnhilde version of Valkyrie, Thompson portrays a former member of the Valkyrior (renamed Valkyries for the movie), who is now just trying to get by and make a new life on the planet of Sakaar.
In a universe that has featured few actors of colors in main roles to date, the casting of Thompson is important and necessary. For many, the Afro Latina provides a rare opportunity for them to see themselves in this vast world (Zoe Saldaña, Rosario Dawson, and Lupita Nyong’o are also part of the MCU), and that alone is worth celebrating. But on top of repping underserved communities, Valkyrie is a general bad ass, who we hope to see more of in the future.
Below, check out five reasons Valkyrie was the true hero to us.
Warning: This post contains spoilers for Thor: Ragnarok. Watch the movie first. It’s worth it, trust.
She’s an unconventional heroine
The first moment we see Valkyrie, she’s stumbling out of her ship. We quickly learn that she’s at a point where she’s shunned the superhero life in favor of the heavy drinking scavenger life. Whatever happened on Asgard, she’s happy to bury it deep in the past. And when given a chance to jump straight back into a life of fighting for the royal family, she’s not very enthused about it.
The fact that she’s allowed to be so flawed and it doesn’t diminish her greatness allows her to stand out as the film’s best character. Thompson also didn’t have to worry about replacing Natalie Portman as Thor’s romantic interest – not that anyone would mind the pairing (#ThorKyrie).
Her flashback is one of the coolest looking scenes in the entire MCU
Valkyrie greets the news of Asgardian royal drama with general disregard. Naturally, this seems strange to Thor, who knows she belongs to a member of an elite group of female warriors sworn to the throne. Eventually, we are shown her painful backstory through a flashback. In what almost looks like a painting come to life, she and the rest of the Valkyries take on Hela (Cate Blanchett), the movie’s villain.
In a movie full of eye-catching visual effects, this slo-mo scene stands out as the most visually impressive. According to Dan Kois, who wrote an excellent feature on director Taika Waititi for The New York Times, the dramatic scene was shot using a new technology called DynamicLight.
She befriended Hulk.
While the Avengers get along just fine with Bruce Banner, his other persona, the Hulk is a much trickier character to befriend – mostly, because he can’t control his anger and has a little bit of a smashing problem. But despite that, she managed to have built up a friendship with him, even though she’s the reason he ended up a space gladiator in the first place. Thompson’s Valkyrie manages to bring out a playfulness that’s rarely seen from the big guy, and the movie is much better off for it.
She kicked everyone's ass.
Except for Hela, Valkyrie kicks everyone’s ass. Under the alias Scrapper 142, Valkyrie is responsible for the capture of both Thor and Hulk – arguably the two strongest Avengers (though not if you ask Thor). Although she’s aided by technology, she also shows off her fighting skills by going one on one with Loki. Although he’s not a god like his brother, as a Frost Giant you’d expect him to hold his own, but Valkyrie gets the best of him, too.
There's so much potential for her character.
Unlike more established MCU characters, Valkyrie is a blank slate. So the opportunities that lie ahead for Thompson are limitless. The most obvious place where we might see her again is next year’s Avengers: Infinity War, which is quite likely since she’s been spotted shooting scenes in Edinburgh, according to Screen Rant.
But she’s also not limited to appearing alongside Thor. It’s not uncommon for characters to make surprise appearances where you wouldn’t expect them. Or Marvel could just feature her in a spin-off. Thompson has her own ideas. According to CBR, she pitched Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel Studios, on the idea of a team-up movie featuring just the female heroes.
Regardless of how it happens, her continued presence in the MCU give us one more reason to look forward to more of these films.