There are more than just a couple of things to love about Thor: Ragnarok. Hell, I just saw it for a second time and walked away loving things I didn’t think I even liked. Taika Waititi’s Ragnarok not only wrapped up the Thor trilogy in the best and most unique way possible, but it reinvigorated the franchise to a point where we can’t only see Marvel continuing the thunderous series of movies, but possibly focusing on someone new going forward.
While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has a number of incredible female heroes, it’s still clinging for more headlining heroines. When Captain Marvel – Marvel’s first sole female led film – hits theaters in 2019, it’ll be 11 years after the debut of the MCU with Jan Favreau’s Iron Man. Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora and others hold their own and then some every time they’re on screen, but they are outnumbered, and sometimes even overshadowed by their fellow male heroes. Luckily for us all, Ragnarok may have the answer to the problem we’ve been trying to answer for quite some time: Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie.
As I mentioned earlier, there are tons of things to fall in love with about Ragnarok, but when it comes to standouts, Valkyrie is a sure thing. From the moment you see her drunkenly tip off her ship in the junkyards of Sakaar, you know you’re dealing with a very different kind of character. And each time she’s on screen she gets better and better, with Thompson’s performance being absolutely electrifying from start to finish. Even alongside Thor, Hulk and Loki, her role in the revenge team known as the Revengers is as an equal, even superior in moments.
Scrapper 142 is outed by Odin’s sons to be a legendary Valkyrie, an extremely powerful Asgardian warrior who fought among the ranks of an all-women squadron of fighters whose sole purpose was to protect the throne. But the Valkyrie we meet is far from that fearless hero who needs no rescuing. She has spent who knows how long bandaging a wound that was given by the Goddess of Death, Hela. As revealed in a flashback, following the violent appetite becoming too much to handle, Odin sent in the famous Valkyrie to stop her villainous uprising, only to be slaughtered by the King’s first born. Thompson’s Valkyrie was the only one to make it out alive, where she then never returned to Asgard and rather took to Sakaar and its underworld type environment.
By the time Ragnarok ends, it’s clear this character is more than just another Jane Foster. She has cemented herself as one of the best new characters in the MCU, and a worthy contender to fight alongside Thor in future installments, or possibly even more.
Marvel has come a long way since their Phase 1 “girlfriends” stage. With Valkyrie essentially replacing Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster in the series, the days of seeing women on the sideline are over for the MCU. While we’ve seen Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Gamora and others operate throughout the universe for years, Valkyrie is a perfect example as to how Marvel is evolving for the better with their female heroes.
So how or why would Valkyrie take over going forward? If there’s one thing Ragnarok did, it’s strip down the character of Thor from everything that came before. The opening act is focused on the sendoff of Odin, then he’s stripped of his trusty hammer by the hand of his evil sister, we find out Jane Foster dumped him, he loses his hair and finally, Hela rips his eye out in their final face-off. Thor is completely upended, and while it’s no doubt better for his franchise, the status of his franchise is unclear following the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4. The final moments of Ragnarok guarantee that Thor has finally fulfilled his destiny of becoming King of Asgard, which means his responsibilities have more than doubled, which means he’ll need help.
In no way am I saying the Thor franchise should rebrand themselves and continue on as Valkyrie, but she should be more than just a part of it going forward, like co-lead. She’s fantastic, and is easily deserving of it. The many moments she had with not just Thor, but her buddy-buddy relationship with Hulk, and that amazing but quick interaction with Loki prove that she’s a character who carries enough weight for such a role. She’s not only strong as hell and can fight like the best of them (her scenes are some of the best), but she carries a fascinating wit about her, and not to mention incredibly attractive – both looks and personality. But most importantly, she’s just as much of a hero as Thor or anyone else we’ve met.
Following Ragnarok, it doesn’t seem like the Thor movies are going anywhere anytime soon, which is completely fine with me after the success of this film. While there’s no announcement of a fourth movie, Thompson’s performance gets me ridiculously excited to see what Marvel does with Valkyrie going forward and how and how much they utilize her. Whether Thor becomes unworthy or not, and even though Marvel’s Phase 4 is still unclear to this point, the arrival of Valkyrie is a very welcome addition into Marvel’s ever-growing cinematic universe.