Tessa Thompson has given a lot of thought to how to bring the character of Valkyrie to life for Thor: Ragnarok. As we’ve heard before from actors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there’s an awareness of the balancing act that must be played between the comic book source material and modern-day “cinematic reality”. As Thompson explained to EW earlier this year, such matters were the subject of a lot of discussion during Thor: Ragnarok pre-production:
We have so many conversations particularly now about representation in film. I think the unfortunate thing about a lot of these fantasy movies is when they’re based on source material a lot of these comics were written in a time when that wasn’t a part of the conversation as far as having representation. Not just having characters that reflect the world we live in but how we represent the characters. If we were also dedicated to the source material, Valkyrie would potentially be a female Thor but she’s fighting in basically a bathing suit, which is also absurd. So we had a conversation of, what is a strong look? Like, she should probably be in pants. That probably makes more sense for the kind of work she’s doing.
But Thompson recently told the LA Times that updating a 1970s-era comic book costume was far from the only challenge that they faced in creating a character that, as she puts it, “occupied her own iconography.”
“There’s an unfair position that women are sometimes put in, in the context of superhero movies and action movies where at once they have to be very strong and fierce, but also sexy,” Thompson said. “Obviously, it’s still a superhero movie and so you’ve got to figure out when you need to stand with your hands on your hips and what makes sense. But we wanted to create a character that occupied her own iconography.”
“There’s one word I hate in all scripts in Hollywood at the moment in describing women, and that is the word “badass.” That word has just crept into every script that is pushed around this town now. It’s terrible, because it doesn’t mean anything. It’s a dumb male writer’s way of saying, ‘Ah, uh, she’s like, she, uh, she’s tough.’ Then straight after that it’s like, ‘She’s badass, but she’s got a beauty about her. And she’s sexy. Unconsciously sexy.’”
While Tessa Thompson is obviously talking about scripts for women in action films in general here, and not Thor: Ragnarok in specific, the result we’ve seen in the Thor: Ragnarok trailers so far would seems to be another indication that Hollywood is starting to contemplate how such roles can be rebooted with more nuance and subtlety in the Wonder Woman era.