Credit: Marvel Studios
Tessa Thompson, who plays Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok, doesn't look much like the comic book version of the character - a fact of which Thompson is keenly aware.
"Obviously if they were really dedicated to the source material they would not have cast me," Thompson explained to Entertainment Weekly. "Marvel was really great, like 'Do what you will with these characters.' In Ragnarok, you’ll see a Banner like you’ve never seen before. You’ll see Thor with the short hair, which happens when he becomes this gladiator for the Grandmaster. But you really do get to see these established characters in a new way."
“I’m not obsessed with the idea that you have to cast someone just to tick a box,” director Taika Waititi added. “You should cast people because they’re talented. [With Valkyrie] I wanted to make sure we weren’t making a female character that was boring and pretty. What I wanted was someone who was going to play the opposite and be even more of the ‘guy’ character than the guys. Ultimately I thought Tessa was the best person we found.”
"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," Thompson continued. "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?...It’s such an exciting time to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, like you look at a cast like Black Panther. I think it’s really important for little boys and little girls to go to these movies and see themselves reflected on screen. I’m really excited about this generation of young women that can look at a screen and see some brown people in space. I’m happy to join Idris Elba so he doesn’t have to be the only one. He’s lonely!"
But Thompson did undergo some physical transformation to take on the role of the mighty Asgardian warrior.
"The training was intense," she explained. "Taika is fantastic. Sometimes with him you’re like are you joking or are you serious? And I was like, What kind of shape do I need to be in?...Taika sent me a picture of Sarah Connor in [Terminator 2]. She’s incredibly buff and really lean and in leather. I took it seriously. I was like, 'Cool, I want to look like Sarah Connor and do like 10 pull ups.' By the time I was Valkyrie I could do 10 pull ups in one set and take a break and then do 10 more. I got really, really strong and buff."
She also took some advice from her fellow Asgardians in determining certain aspects of her film costume.
"I remember one of my first days I’m all suited up and I have a cape and a sword and I feel really cool. You don’t anticipate things like just constantly tripping on your cape,"she joked. "So it was really fun to have Chris [Hemsworth] and Tom Hiddleston be like 'Oh, get the short cape!' I was like, Oh I didn’t know I could get the short cape!"
Thompson also confirmed that her character would carry "a very special sword," likely referring to Dragonfang, the magic sword the character carries in comic books.
Finally, Thompson also addressed the idea that she could have a cameo in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, alluding that it wasn't out of the question.
"You never know where people will pop up. In the next phase, the hope is to find ways to interweave all these characters, and certainly with Infinity War, those are the culmination of a lot of work since Iron Man. She’s part of the tapestry now. For me, it’s exciting to join at a time with young actors like Brie Larson and Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan. We’re all hopefully going to meet in one of these movies."
Thor: Ragnarok is due out in theaters November 3.