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A guide to Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie ahead of Thor: Love and Thunder

The irreverent former shieldmaiden has become one of Marvel's most beloved, and most important, supporting film characters.

Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie
Image credit: Marvel Studios

One of the cornerstones of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's sprawling success has been its ability to make fans just as invested in supporting characters as they are in the heroes whose names grace the films. With Captain America, we grew to care about Bucky. With Iron Man, we grew to care about Rhodey, and with Thor: Ragnarok, we grew to care about Valkyrie, Tessa Thompson's exiled Asgardian warrior who became a key ally to the God of Thunder.

After stealing the show in Ragnarok and showing up to take charge in Avengers: Endgame, Thompson and Valkyrie are back again this summer in Thor: Love and Thunder, the next chapter in writer/director Taika Waititi's cosmic Asgardian saga.

But what's Valkyrie up to now? What's she been doing since we last saw her, and what do you need to know if you're either new to the MCU, or just in need of a quick refresh? We're here to help with a guide to all things Valkyrie, from her first appearance to where you can check out her comic book adventures.

Who is Valkyrie?

Like her comic book counterpart, Valkyrie is the last of her kind when she's first introduced in the MCU, an Asgardian warrior who was a member of a legendary group of female heroes sworn to protect Odin and his throne. When Odin's daughter Hela, goddess of death, sought to claim Asgard for herself, Valkyrie and her fellow warriors charged into battle to stop her, but they were all slaughtered. Valkyrie only survived because one of her fellow shieldmaidens sacrificed her life to save her.

Image of Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie in Thor Ragnarok
Marvel Studios | Image credit: Marvel Studios

Devastated by defeat and the loss of her sisters, Valkyrie went into self-exile, leaving Asgard behind and giving up her allegiance to its throne. She eventually landed on the wormhole-laden planet of Sakaar, where she took a job as a "Scrapper" for the Grandmaster, scavenging valuable people to serve as champions (willing or otherwise) in his eternal gladiatorial tournaments. She quickly earned the Grandmaster's favor for her finds, and used the money she earned to drown her sorrows in liquor, shrugging of all other responsibilities and connections.

That changed when Thor arrived on Sakaar, himself a refugee of Hela's reign of terror in Thor: Ragnarok. Though she was initially reluctant to help her new Asgardian king, Valkyrie eventually teamed up with Thor, Loki, and the Hulk to battle Hela and attempt to save Asgard. Though Asgard the realm was destroyed, the Asgardian people were safely evacuated, giving Valkyrie the redemption she'd been waiting eons to earn.

What's Valkyrie's place in the MCU?

At the end of Thor: Ragnarok, Valkyrie agreed to continue her travels with Thor, recognizing his place as king of Asgard and working to protect her people, now refugees in search of a new home. During Avengers: Infinity War, she managed to survive (offscreen) both Thanos' initial attack on the Asgardians and the Blip, which wiped out half of all life in the universe. With Thor in a deep depression following the loss to Thanos, it fell to Valkyrie to assume the daily duties of ruling the Norwegian community of New Asgard, helping the people to settle into their new lives. Thor was nominally King, but Valkyrie was clearly pulling more than her fair share of weight during a dark time.

During Avengers: Endgame, Valkyrie played a key role in the final battle against Thanos. After his defeat, Thor named her the ruler of New Asgard, leaving her to lead their people while he ventured out into the cosmos with the Guardians of the Galaxy. It's there, still leading the New Asgardians, that we apparently find her as Thor: Love and Thunder begins. But it doesn't look like she'll be there for long.

Character poster showing Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie in Love and Thunder
Marvel Studios | Image credit: Marvel Studios

What's Valkyrie up to in Thor: Love and Thunder?

As Love and Thunder begins, Valkyrie will be continuing her work as New Asgard's ruler, and trailers have shown her wearing a very Earthly looking suit to go with her new role. According to Waititi, it's a role she's growing into, but for someone who's more accustomed to fighting, the rigors of running a country aren't necessarily an easy adjustment.

"She's got to do all the things that they never tell you about when you're supposed to rule the people, which is deal with all of the infrastructure and figure out the economy and have delegates visit from other countries," the director told Entertainment Weekly. "So, she's spending a lot of her time not fighting, and all of her new battles have to do with ruling her people."

But "not fighting" isn't all Valkyrie will apparently be up to. Back in 2019, when Love and Thunder was announced at San Diego Comic-Con, Thompson teased to the Hall H crowd that Valkyrie would also be in search of a "queen" to rule alongside her. Thompson always said the character is bisexual, and according to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, Love and Thunder will explore that with a new LGBTQ+ romance in the MCU.

But Valkyrie won't just be stuck on Earth. Love and Thunder trailers have also revealed that she'll be venturing out into the cosmos with Thor at some point.

Where else has the MCU Valkyrie showed up?

Comic cover of Return of the Valkyries
Marvel Comics | Image credit: Marvel Comics

Though they share many similarities, the MCU version of Valkyrie and the original comics incarnation of the character are distinct from one another, with the original comic book form sporting a different appearance, slightly different backstory, and different overall heroic history. Thanks to the popularity of Thor: Ragnarok, though, it didn't take long for Thompson's version of the character to make it onto the comics page.

A new Valkyrie inspired by Thompson's performance appeared in the Marvel Comics series Exiles, by writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Javier Rodriguez, back in 2018. Though they're not technically the same character, and the Exiles Valkyrie speaks with the heightened language of Asgardian comic book heroes, the two characters share the same physical appearance and sense of fighting spirit.

In 2021, another version of the character bearing even more similarities to Thompson's version appeared in the tie-in miniseries King in Black: Return of the Valkyries. Introduced as one of the original nine Valkyries who'd been trapped in memory loop in the Realm Between for untold ages, she was rescued by newly minted Valkyrie Jane Foster (yes, Jane's a Valkyrie in the comics now) and returned to the core Marvel Comics Universe where she was also given an official in-continuity comics name: Rūna.

Rūna's adventures continued throughout the Return of the Valkyries miniseries, and she's since appeared in the Mighty Valkyries comics series from writers Jason Aaron and Torunn Grønbekk and artist Mattia De Iulis. So, if you've already gone back through Valkyrie's MCU adventures and you want more of Thompson's version, you've got some reading to do.

Thor: Love and Thunder is in theaters July 8.

Interested in reading Thor comics, but don't know where to start? Check out Popverse's guide to the 10best Thor comics>.

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