Tessa Thompson won the hearts of MCU fans playing the role of the alcoholic, quixotic, steely, but kind-hearted Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok and later Avengers movies. And she will have quite a substantial role in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder, where it is confirmed that she'll be on the hunt for her queen. During a recent interview, Thomspon revealed that the next phase of Marvel movies will offer a lot more in terms of diversity.
"I think in this next phase of Marvel, we're really talking about what representation looks like in those spaces. Because the truth is these movies travel globally in such huge ways, and if you can represent people that are of color, if you can represent people with disabilities, if you can represent the LGBTQIA community inside of these films, it's a pretty big deal."
"There's millions and millions of people, particularly young people, that show up to the cinema. And I think if you can show them something that looks like them, they feel valued. Particularly inside of these narratives of the comic books, that's what it's all about. It's that our differences make us special."
As Tessa Thompson is pointing out, diversity has been something of a sore point for Marvel in recent times, as the conversation around race and racism become a focal point of debate within the country. Anthony Mackie, who plays the role of The Falcon in the MCU, recently lambasted the Marvel franchise for token attempts at diversity.
"It really bothered me that I've done seven Marvel movies where every producer, every director, every stunt person, every costume designer, every PA, every single person has been white. But then when you do Black Panther, you have a Black director, Black producer, a Black costume designer, a Black stunt choreographer. And I'm like, that's more racist than anything else. Because if you only can hire the Black people for the Black movie, are you saying they're not good enough when you have a mostly white cast?"
Gabriel Luna, who plays the role of Ghost Rider on the tv show Agents of Shield, backed Mackie's statement on Twitter while revealing the difficulty in getting a standalone film for his character made.
"To think we were right on the launchpad with Ghost Rider and still couldn't get it made. An opportunity lost to have a Mexican-American lead in a world where films with Latino leads make up less than 3%."
Thompsons's statement is the latest sally in the evolving debate around diversity in the MCU. The actress will next be seen in Thor: Love and Thunder, where her character's LGBTQ status will be confirmed onscreen.
"I'm really excited that we're able to continue to push the bounds of that and that I'm able to do that with Valkyrie because there's so many cool queer characters in the comic books and they should have a place on-screen."
Another upcoming MCU movie The Eternals is also set to introduce Marvel's first openly gay superhero. Hopefully, the conversation around diversity in the MCU will take a more positive turn in the coming days as the franchise expands to encompass not just its fictional universe but the entire multiverse.