Xtra Weekly
2 min

Tessa Thompson plays an openly bisexual superhero and we are ready

Here’s your Xtra Weekly, July 26

Credit: gotpap.starmaxinc.com/STRPA, Francesca Roh/Xtra

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WEEKLY EXPLAINER

Queer people rejoice! Marvel has confirmed Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) first openly-LGBTQ2 superhero.

Here’s the background 👉Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, unveiled the studio’s plan for Phase 4 of the MCU at the recent San Diego Comic-Con. This diverse new slate of films, which feature more women and people of colour in leading roles, include: Black Widow, The Eternals, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and *gasps* Thor 4: Love and Thunder.

The upcoming installation of Thor is exciting for many reasons — Thor: Ragnarok’s Taika Waititi returns as director, Natalie Portman is back and Tessa Thompson reprises her role as Valkyrie. But what really stands out is that Portman will play the Mighty Thor (yes, a badass lady Thor) and Thompson’s Valkyrie will be openly bisexual.

No, you are not hallucinating. A female Thor and a bi superhero. In one film.

And Thompson’s character isn’t just a superhero — in Avengers: Endgame, Thor passed the mantle of King of New Asgard to Valkyrie. During the Marvel panel at Comic-Con, Thompson said, “First of all, as new King [of Asgard] she needs to find her queen, so that will be her first order of business […] She has some ideas. [We’ll] keep you posted.”

That’s too much BDE and honestly, we 👏 are 👏 here 👏 for 👏 it 👏.

So, why does this matter? Here’s the thing: Marvel comics’ fans already know that Valkyrie is bisexual. In fact, Thompson herself confirmed this on Twitter in 2017. But to depict that on-screen is another story.

LGBTQ2 fans have waited years for Marvel to include any kind of LGBTQ2 representation in their cinematic universe — the studio’s been known for queerbaiting and even removing queer storylines that exist in the original source material. For example, Marvel deleted the lesbian romance in Black Panther and it’s gone above and beyond to insist that Captain Marvel is not gay. 🙅‍♂️

The 2017 Studio Responsibility Index, a report produced by GLAAD that evaluates LGBTQ2 representation efforts by major film studios, notes, “Walt Disney Studios [the studio that produces the MCU] has the weakest historical record when it comes to LGBTQ-inclusive films of all the major studios tracked in this report.”

Earlier this year, Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo were criticized for inserting a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” moment where an unnamed man tells the story of his first date after losing his male partner. In an interview with Deadline, Joe Russo explained the inclusion of the character.

“Representation is really important,” he said. “It was important to us as we did four of these films, we wanted a gay character somewhere in them. We felt it was important that one of us play him, to ensure the integrity and show it is so important to the filmmakers that one of us is representing that. It is a perfect time, because one of the things that is compelling about the Marvel Universe moving forward is its focus on diversity.” The result was an unnamed character who appeared for 30 seconds. 👀

Now, after years of teasing the queer community, we are finally seeing ourselves represented in the MCU. The new phase also promises racial diversity. Simu Liu has been tapped to star in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings — the studio’s first-ever film centred on an Asian superhero. And the cast of The Eternals includes Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry and Salma Hayek.

We’re not the only one on board. Here are some of the reactions

https://twitter.com/rachelagiese/status/1153448188646481921

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