According to Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige, Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie will be involved in a LGBTQ storyline as part of Thor: Love and Thunder. The MCU is finally about to get its first openly LGBTQ hero. Avengers: Endgame famously featured the MCU’s first openly gay character, in the form of a cameo from director Joe Russo. He played a man in a support group run by Steve Rogers dealing with the fallout of Thanos’ snap.
Though hardly a leading role, perhaps the gay inclusion in Endgame was intended to set the stage for the appearance of an LGBTQ lead character in a future MCU movie. Back when Thor: Ragnarok was a fresh release, Thompson lamented the removal of a scene which showed a woman emerging from Valkyrie’s bedroom, obviously implying a sexual encounter the night before. Nonetheless, the actor confirmed she always played the character as bisexual, and now Thor: Love and Thunder aims to follow-up on that characterization in a meaningful way.
Thompson said during Marvel Studios’ Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con, «First of all, as a new king, she needs to find her queen,» a statement which was met with uproarious applause from the fans in attendance, who’ve been waiting a long time to see queer representation within lead characters in the MCU. Speaking to io9 during SDCC, Feige confirmed Thor: Love and Thunder will feature Valkyrie searching for love as the new ruler of Asgard, or at least the survivng refugees of Earth’s New Asgard. Of Valkyrie’s sexuality, Feige told the outlet: «How that impacts the story remains to be seen with that level of representation you’ll see across our films, not in just Thor 4.»
If Feige lives up to his promise, Thor: Love and Thunder won’t just capitalize on the initial promise of Valkyrie’s bisexuality; it’ll open the floodgates for other LGBTQ characters to reveal themselves as Phase 4 of the MCU begins to expand. Of course, it remains to be seen just how explicitly the MCU confirms Valkyrie’s sexuality.
While fans shouldn’t expect a full-blown sex scene (those seldom occur in MCU movies, no matter the sexuality of the leads), it’s difficult to overstate the importance of a mere romantic kiss to the queer fandom of these comic book movies, whose existence is openly acknowledged and appreciated by having characters in the films express the same sexual orientation. It’s vitally important, however, that the film follow through with the promises made by Thompson and Feige; after Endgame included the first openly gay character in the MCU, it’s not enough anymore to have vague implications or subtle subtext. In 2019, queerbaiting isn’t gay enough anymore. It’s not enough for a creator to say something of a work of art which is unsubstantiated in the work itself. It remains to be seen how Thor: Love and Thunder will reconcile Thor’s ending in Avengers: Endgame, which saw the erstwhile ruler of Asgard set sail for parts unknown with the Guardians of the Galaxy.