There always seems to be some amount of "controversy" when a comic book character is adapted for film using an actor of a different race than the traditional comic book character - and such was the case with Thor: Ragnarok's female warrior character, Valkyrie.
In Marvel Comics lore (and the Norse mythology that inspired the comic book character), Valkyrie is, of course, depicted as the blonde-haired and white-skinned sort of woman you would find in Norse culture. However, in Thor Ragnarok, the character is played by Creed star Tessa Thompson, who comes from a mixed background of Panamanian, Mexican, and European cultures.
Not surprisingly, when it was announced that Thompson would be playing Valkyrie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there was backlash from fans who didn't approve of a Norse mythological figure being "race-swapped." While visiting the set of Thor: Ragnarok, we had to ask Tessa Thompson how she felt about the controversy, and how it's affected her performance as Valkyrie.
The Face of Valkyrie
According to Thompson, balancing the cultural concerns of some fans with the progressive agenda Marvel Studios is currently embarking on, was not easy:
"I mean it's a tricky thing...I think as an actor there's this idea sometimes that you just don't want to read anything but then when you're entering something like this universe, this cinematic universe that people are so diehard about, you actually can learn a lot from the fans when you're doing research about a character.
I've posted a picture of Valkyrie in the comics on my Instagram and there were fans like oh she's going a more "Ultimate Valkyrie," interesting [LAUGHTER]. I'm just reading the comics [LAUGHS], and I posted ... my practice sword and they're like "Ooh Dragon Fang is black, ooh." [LAUGHTER] No, no, no, it's just black plastic. [LAUGHTER] 'It's not what Dragon Fang looks like. It's cool and blue,' is what I want to say but I don't. But you can actually learn a lot from the fans, so I didn't have the thing of like I'm never going to read anything, but then when people were posting about sort of the race swap and the implications of that and they were very upset. Some very upset people [LAUGHS] about how this doesn't honor Norse mythology and you're like 'Read Norse mythology, it doesn't make sense."prevnext
A Diversified MCU
As Thompson went on to explain to us while on set, The MCU version of Asgard definitely needed to be a bit more...colorful:
"Idris Elba needs company [LAUGHTER]. He can't be the only black person in the neighborhood. [LAUGHTER].
We talked about that; I think the only way to weather [the controversy] is to go [STICKS OUT TONGUE], honestly, and just do the work. And it's twofold because there's definitely an element of it where you go 'Okay that's just racism so that's cool'; I don't mean "cool." [LAUGHTER] But we all know what that is, right? We've like been there, done that, like okay."
Idris Elba ironically faced similar "controversy" when he joined the Thor franchise at the beginning (way back in 2010). At that time, there was similar argument for Thor and Asgard being the product of Norse mythology, and therefore exclusive to actors of Norse-type ethnicity.0comments
However, in the time since, Elba's Heimdall has grown into a fan-favorite part of the MCU; there's no reason to believe that Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie won't follow a similar flight path through this storm. That is, provided she gets a suitably badass introduction in Thor: Ragnarok.
Thor: Ragnarok will hit theaters on November 3, 2017. For more of what we learned on set, be sure to visit our full database page below!prev