Taika Waititi's Thor: Love and Thunder is the latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it positions Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) as king of New Asgard. Unfortunately for her, this new status isn't nearly as thrilling as being on the battlefield, and as a result, she's bored.
But the history of the Valkyries in the Marvel Universe isn't boring at all. Thompson's character is one of several to hold the title of Valkyrie, including her fellow Love and Thunder star, Jane Foster.
Who is Valkyrie? And where did she come from? Read on to find out.
Who is Valkyrie in the Marvel Universe?
Although Valkyrie in the MCU seems to be named 'Valkyrie,' it's actually more like a job title, since her spirit can be embodied by different hosts. The first Valkyrie in Marvel Comics was created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema, debuting in Avengers #83 (1970).
Based on the Norse mythological figure Brynhildr, Valkyrie is also known by her Asgardian name, Brunnhilde. Due to her incredible combat skills, she's chosen by Odin to lead his personal battalion of shield maidens, the Valkyrior, AKA the Choosers of the Slain. The Valkyrior are fierce warrior goddesses who decide which fallen mortal worshipers of Asgardian gods are worthy of being taken to Valhalla, then escort those mortals into the afterlife.
Valkyrie is the strongest of the Valkyrior, with a dense body that's difficult to injure and immunity to Earthly diseases. She isn't immortal, but she does age very slowly, and she has incredible stamina. She also has to ability to detect when death is imminent for a person, because she can perceive a "deathglow" surrounding their form.
Valkyrie has extensive training in horseback riding and combat, and she has a winged horse named Aragorn – not to be confused with the beloved Dúnedain ranger from The Lord of the Ring. She carries an enchanted sword named Dragonfang and an unnamed iron spear, both of which she uses to great effect in battle. As a result of her natural combat abilities and her training, she is one of the fiercest fighters in all of Asgard. In fact, the only Asgardian who can match her in combat is Sif.
In addition to leading the Valkyrior, Valkyrie was a mainstay of the Defenders in the '70s and '80s, and in the 2010s she became a founding member of the Secret Avengers and co-leader of the Fearless Defenders alongside Misty Knight. She's also a close ally of Thor, and the pair were once romantically involved.
Who has had the Valkyrie title?
Brunnhilde was the first Valkyrie, but far from the last. Other Valkyrie hosts include mortals Barbara Norris, Samantha Parrington, Sian Bowen, and Annabelle Riggs, as well as Asgardians Hildegarde, Freya, and Rūna.
Dani Moonstar, AKA Mirage of the New Mutants, takes on the powers of Valkyrie when she's trapped in the Asgardian realm and rescues the winged horse, Brightwind. When the horse selects her as its rider, Dani gains all the powers of the Valkyrie, including premonitions of death. She's eventually stripped of these powers after Hela, the Asgardian goddess of death, attempts to brainwash the Valkyrior into helping her steal Odin's throne. However, Dani has appeared as a Valkyrie several times since, often in special events or crossover titles.
The latest Valkyrie, Jane Foster, took up the role after the Valkyrior were massacred during 'War of the Realms.' Jane previously occupied the role of Thor, giving her multiple connections to Asgard. Last year, Valkyrie Jane joined the main Avengers team alongside Namor, King of Atlantis.
Jane's role as a Valkyrie is even bigger than as a single hero, though. She's also responsible for reviving the Valkyrie and bringing back several lost Asgardian heroes in the process. In the limited series King in Black: Return of the Valkyries, Jane resurrects the fallen order, enlisting several previous Valkyrie hosts and Asgardians to its ranks.
What role does Valkyrie play in the MCU?
As mentioned previously, Tessa Thompson plays the role of Valkyrie in the MCU. She made her first appearance in Thor: Ragnarok, then returned in Avengers: Endgame, and she is also a main character in Thor: Love and Thunder.
Valkyrie's history in the MCU is slightly different from the comics. Thor first meets her on Sakaar, where she serves the Grandmaster as Scrapper 142. She tells Thor she exiled herself to the planet in order to drink and forget her past, which is full of tragedy: When Odin sent the Valkyrior to force Hela back into her prison, they were all killed except for Valkyrie, who narrowly escaped death after being saved by one of the other warriors.
Eventually, Valkyrie decides to join Thor and help him defeat Hela, though they are unable to stop the destruction of Asgard.
After Loki releases the fire demon Surtur to enact the Ragnarok doomsday prophecy and stop Hela from destroying the Nine Realms, Asgard is destroyed, killing nearly 10 thousand Asgardians. The survivors settle in Tønsberg, a Norwegian village that previously housed the Tesseract, and Thor names it New Asgard in homage to their home planet.
Unfortunately, Thor fails to lead this new settlement, falling into a depressive, alcoholic slump not unlike the one Valkyrie fell into on Sakaar. With no one else capable of leading New Asgard, Valkyrie becomes King Valkyrie, leaving behind the battlefield to help the community. She continues to hold this title in Thor: Love and Thunder, the latest installment in the MCU.
Valkyrie is a mainstay in Thor comics, so don't miss the 10 best Thor stories of all time.