Tessa Thompson addresses Thor: Ragnarok ‘straightwashing’ criticism

Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok

Tessa Thompson, who played superhero Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok, has addressed accusations of straightwashing after all references to her character’s sexuality were cut from the final release.

In an interview with The Independent, Tessa Thompson—who came out in real life in June 2018—sought to downplay controversy relating to her character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film.

Superhero Valkryie was intended to be bisexual in line with the character’s comic book portrayal, however, a sequence that featured a woman walking out of Valkyrie’s bedroom was filmed but cut from the final 2017 release.

Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie

Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok

A flashback scene did make the cut that featured the massacre of Valkyrie’s all-female warrior clan, but again the film avoided revealing that that one of the murdered women was Valkyrie’s lover.

The decisions infuriated fans, given the MCU has featured zero visible LGBT+ characters across its 20 films to date.

Tessa Thompson downplayed cut LGBT+ content

Tessa Thompson told The Independent about the cut scene: “One thing to clarify about that… is it was so in passing. I hope we get to that space, where someone’s sexuality is as immaterial as me drinking this green juice.

“It wasn’t Marvel or Disney or anyone extracting that because it was an issue… it just was like, that particular moment didn’t make sense in the context of the scene. And there were other beautiful things where you get a sense of her back story.”

“I hope that we get to a space, in terms of the stories that we tell, where that’s something that gets to exist.”

— Tessa Thompson

Speaking about the flashback scene, she added: “The woman that dies is her lover. In performance we were, like, ‘That’s your lover.’ So in my mind it isn’t cut; I played her as a woman that’s queer.

“I hope that we get to a space, in terms of the stories that we tell, where that’s something that gets to exist, and it doesn’t have to be noteworthy.”

Thor: Ragnarok‘s release in China, Russia, Indonesia and Malaysia, four countries that ban depictions of LGBT+ relationships, were worth a combined $154 million, representing 28 percent of the film’s gross international takings.

The film grossed $315 million in the US and $538 million internationally.

Execs say Marvel Cinematic Universe films will feature LGBT+ characters

Victoria Alonso, the executive vice president of production at Marvel Studios, recently addressed the lack of diverse representation in an interview with the BBC.

The Argentina-born Alonso said: “I think we haven’t represented the Latin community, in general. I think that’s something we have to do better. I’m Latin, I can tell you that I’m longing for that.

“The gay community has not been represented whatsoever. I’m gay, so I can tell you that I would long for that.”

Alonso added that Asian, BME and female characters are also under-represented, continuing: “We are determined to have everyone represented in our films in some way, at some point in time.

“Now, we only make two or three movies a year, so it’s difficult to have every single one — but it is definitely one of the things that we have in our minds all the time.”

She added: “I think that every ‘team’ film [like The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy] that we do has to have a very diverse cast, and that’s something that we are definitely working on trying to achieve.

“You don’t get to have this kind of success if the entire world doesn’t see your product.”

Challenged in June, Marvel boss Kevin Feige said there were LGBT+ superheroes in the works, adding that they would be “both ones you’ve seen [already] and ones you haven’t seen.”

Marvel execs have been making similar assurances on the issue since at least 2015, with no visible progress or change.