Here is your official spoiler warning for the latest instalment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

BY NIC CROSARA, IMAGE BY MARVEL

Over the years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has become increasingly queer. Eternals, Loki and Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness all have canonised LGBTQI characters. Back in 2017, despite not handling queerness in an overt way, Thor: Ragnarok became a fan favourite with many considering it to be the queerest MCU instalment yet. So when the next film, Thor: Love And Thunder, was announced, we were all on the edge of our seats to see how it would measure up to its predecessor.

As if we weren’t already excited enough, back at a Comic Con in 2019, WLW icon Tessa Thompson teased what Valkyrie’s priority will be going forward: “First of all, as a new king [of Asgard], she needs to find her queen. So that will be the first order of business.” Suffice to say, we were SO ready to see Valkyrie get the queen she deserved to find.

With Taika Waititi – who has recently been praised for starring in and producing the unapologetically queer pirate show Our Flag Means Death – once again taking on the role of director, expectations were at an all-time high. However, by the time a tweet went viral calling Natalie Portman (Dr. Jane Foster/ Mighty Thor) out for lying when teasing that this instalment was “so gay”, our expectations were thoroughly lowered.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Thor: Love And Thunder already had a lot to live up to. Whilst Ragnarok followed one of, in my opinion, the weakest instalments in the MCU franchise, Thor: The Dark World, Love And Thunder had to top Ragnarok. I must say it is a worthy successor. As always, Taika manages to balance heavy topics with humour and fun in a way that doesn’t do a disservice to the subject matter. It’s full of bright colours, and epic tales of space and Gods as well as being metal AF.

Tessa Thompson is a phenomenal actor, so it should be no surprise that she does an ace job at portraying Valkyrie again in this film. It was delightful to see Valkyrie’s signature swagger and charm. We got to witness her styled in several different gasp-worthy suits. She even got to (briefly) flirt with a Greek goddess. It’s also clear she’s also part of Team Jane, but she doesn’t get the girl in the end.

However, when Thor and Jane share a romantic moment on the deck of the ship, inside, a tipsy Valkyrie has a heart-to-heart with Korg (Taika Waititi). She tells him that she stopped believing love was a possibility for her when her girlfriend, the love of her life, died in battle. We presumably saw this death scene in a flashback during Ragnarok, however the film didn’t make the connection explicit.

Unfortunately Valkyrie comes within a breath of living out the overused “kill your gays” trope and is ultimately side lined from the third act. Just as Valkyrie deserved to find her queen, we deserved to see more of her on the big screen.

“Just as Valkyrie deserved to find her queen, we deserved to see more of her on the big screen”

Notably, Valkyrie isn’t the only LGBTQI character in the film. Korg also reveals that on his home planet, rock babies are born when two rock men hold hands over molten lava. This concept is drawn from the comics. Korg ends up performing the ritual with a stone man named Dwayne.

I can’t help but feel like Valkyrie deserved so much more. Yes, it’s an action film. And yes, there are urgent tasks at hand. However, the latest season of Netflix’s Umbrella Academy handled Viktor’s coming out scene in a concise and respectful way that didn’t take away from the pace of the apocalyptic happenings but also couldn’t have easily been cut from the show in a way where the narrative journey would still make sense.

The Marvel comics are famously queer, with an abundance of overtly LGBTQI characters. The MCU has a lot of catching up to do. I hope to see more meaningful representation going forwards. We shall see. For now, I’m crossing my fingers that Valkyrie gets her very own spin-off show.

Thor: Love And Thunder is out in cinemas now.

@niccrosara

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