Welcome to this week’s Comic Character Spotlight! In anticipation of the upcoming installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Thor: Love and Thunder” (2022), we will be highlighting one of my personal favorite characters to be introduced from the “Thor” series: Valkyrie.
Similar to many of the other elements interwoven throughout Thor and Asgardian narratives, Valkyrie is based on Norse mythology. The character, created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema, is inspired by the Norse mythological figure Brynhildr. Within conventional Norse legends, Brynhildr is a shieldmaiden who is featured as a primary character in the “Völsunga saga” and various Eddic poems – an untitled collection of Old Norse anonymous narrative poems.
Valkyrie’s ties to Brynhildlr are evident as she also acts as a shield maiden with the Asgardian name, Brunnhilde. Valkyrie was chosen by Odin, King of Asgard, to lead a team of shield-maidens known as the Valkyrior. They served to observe the battlefields of humans who were loyal worshippers of the Asgardian gods. When these warriors died in battle, the Valkyrior selected those they deemed as worthy to be taken to Valhalla, the honored land of the fallen.
As the strongest of all Vakyrior, Valkyrie possesses remarkable gallantry and battle prowess. While not immortal, she ages significantly slower than humans, has a tough exterior and is immune to any disease. Valkyrie often deals effective damage with her enchanted sword, Dragonfang, alongside her companion, the winged horse Aragorn. Interestingly, Valkyrie also has the ability to see a ‘deathglow’ around an individual’s body that indicates the rapid approach of death.
Valkyrie first appeared in issue #83 of “The Avengers” (1970). Over time, Valkyrie became a staple in the superhero alliance the Defenders and a close ally of Thor. In the 2010s, Valkyrie became a founding member of the Secret Avengers and co-leader of the Defenders with Misty Knight.
Tessa Thompson brilliantly captures the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with appearances in “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017), “Avengers: Endgame” (2019) and the upcoming “Thor: Love and Thunder” (2022). Her portrayal of the character is adored to the point that in January 2018, Marvel announced a version of Valkyrie directly derived from Tessa Thompson would join the comic series “The Exiles.”
In lieu of spotlighting the titular character in “Thor Love and Thunder” (2022), I focused on Valkyrie as her only major role in film adaptations was 2017’s “Thor Ragnarok.” Oftentimes, this leads to her being under-highlighted in comparison to those with recurring larger roles. However, alongside Loki, she has always been my personal favorite in the realm of Marvel’s Asgard.