While the Marvel Studios films have certainly been fun and well reviewed, there are still a few areas in which they’re lacking. Ant-Man and the Wasp—the studio’s 20th film—will be its first with a female co-lead, and Black Panther—the studio’s 18th film—will be its first with a person of color in the lead role. But with Captain Marvel on the way and Black Panther looking to be decidedly badass, it looks like Marvel is attempting to make up for lost time a bit. And with Thor: Ragnarok, it turns out the studio almost introduced its first LGBTQ character in a big way.
Tessa Thompson (Creed) fills the role of Valkyrie in the sequel, which already is a race-swapped bit of casting. In the comics, Valkyrie is as WASP-y as can be, but Ragnarok director Taika Waititi and Marvel wanted to shake things up while giving an incredibly talented actress a chance to shine. Thompson recently took to Twitter to confirm that like in the recent comics, her version of Valkyrie is bisexual. It was unclear if this would be explicitly addressed in the film, but in a new profile in Rolling Stone (via ScreenCrush) it’s revealed that they did shoot a scene that would have made Valkyrie’s sexuality explicit—but it was cut:
Thompson even summoned the courage to pitch Waititi on making Valkyrie bisexual, based on her comic book relationship with anthropologist Annabelle Riggs. “There’s this great illustration of them in a kiss,” swoons Thompson, and while Valkyrie has yet to meet Annabelle in her Hollywood timeline – and who knows if she’ll get to – she convinced Waititi to shoot a glimpse of a woman walking out of Valkyrie’s bedroom. He kept it in the film as long as he could; eventually the bit had to be cut because it distracted from the scene’s vital exposition.
Thompson goes on to admit it was a back-and-forth, but there remains a subtle moment alluding to Valkyrie’s love for another woman in the finished film:
“There were things that we talked about that we allowed to exist in the characterization, but maybe not be explicit in the film,” admits Thompson. Pay attention to her agony in a flashback where Blanchett’s Goddess of Death murders the rest of Valkyrie’s warrior clan. “There’s a great shot of me falling back from one of my sisters who’s just been slain,” says Thompson. “In my mind, that was my lover.”
Waititi himself elaborated a bit on why the scene was cut during an interview with The Playlist:
“We had talked about it. There was one moment that didn’t make it into the film where she was hanging out with a girl,” Waititi recalls. “If you were to read into that you can see that in her flashback. There is a girl there and maybe perhaps there’s something there that was her girlfriend. Who knows. We tried to make sure it wasn’t super specific or that we were trying to say ‘She’s a lesbian! She’s bi! We really gotta get everyone on board with this!’ It’s more like, ‘Look if you want to read anything into that you can make sense of it in parts of the film.’ I know that she had that and she was using that in her process and stuff. And I’m totally supportive of that. Why not?”
Indeed, there’s a fine line to walk here. Representation is important, and it’d be great if the MCU acknowledged the LGBTQ community with a specific character. But you also don’t want to stop the film cold to address a character’s sexuality. Unfortunately, this comes on the heels of Hollywood dancing around the issue of LGBTQ representation in major films like Beauty and the Beast, trying to pat themselves on the back for queer representation while not really actually doing the thing. Again, it’s a fine line to walk between representation and tokenism, but if we can find various different ways to allude to the sex life of Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor, and even Hulk, then surely there’s an organic LGBTQ moment to found in the ever-expanding MCU.