Well, it happened. After 17 films and countless Captain/Bucky fan fictions, the Powers-That-Be at Marvel finally rolled out their first ever queer character — and it was nothing short of revolutionary. After a standard cold open of Tom Hiddleston eating out Idris Elba’s ass, Thor: Ragnarok spent no less than two hours following the tragic backstory, rocky coming out, and joyful social acceptance of a non-attractive lesbian Norse telepath as she saved the world while vigorously finger blasting Cate Blanchett — and as a bonus, the film’s B plot allowed Chris Hemsworth’s Thor to thoughtfully and empathetically explore his own fragile masculinity as he engaged in gentle, receptive anal sex with the Incredible Hulk. The movie’s brave, unflinching portrayal of the queer experience has changed hearts and minds across the globe and has spurred the Presidents of Chechnya and Egypt to immediately stop killing gay people. Even God himself recently smiled down at the commotion and gave a rare double thumbs up to the head of Marvel, who looked up and grinned at God before kissing his wife and permanently banning sexual harassment. Then everyone went to heaven.
Just kidding! Here’s what really happened: The movie’s queer character spent two seconds of flashback looking longingly at a woman — a woman who could have been her sister — before that woman was violently and horrifically murdered.
After two weeks of hype over Marvel’s first-ever queer character, this was pretty, um … a lie. While Tessa Thompson, who played the “bisexual” Valkyrie, admitted on Twitter that her character’s sexuality would never be explicitly addressed in the movie, it was still misleading of her and the media to tout this latent character trait as if it were indicative of a radical sea change in the Marvel Universe. There’s just no getting around it: This was a Class Gay felony.
Of course, we’d be more shocked if this hadn’t already happened before. When director Bill Condon hinted earlier this year that his live action version of Beauty and the Beast would feature Disney’s first-ever gay character, the media and blogosphere went wild. In just a few quick weeks, everyone from a drive-in movie theater in Alabama to the entire country of Malaysia threatened to boycott the film — and queer audiences across the country prepped themselves to see full-on bareback sex. But then the reality struck. After the movie’s premiere, audiences learned that the movie’s “homosexuality” was relegated to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cutaway gag.
Considering the fact that Disney owns Marvel, it isn’t surprising that Thor: Ragnarok has followed the same pattern as Beauty and the Beast. Plus, Hollywood needs to cater to conservative foreign markets when distributing its movies internationally. But, like … couldn’t Disney have included just one gay scene and then deleted it in the international version?
Reportedly, that’s exactly what Tessa Thompson asked her Ragnarok director Taika Waititi to do before he shot down the idea. Thompson told Rolling Stone that she convinced Waititi to film a woman leaving Valkyrie’s room, but Waititi removed it from the film when it “distracted from the scene’s vital exposition.” He apparently forgot that his movie is essentially just a two-hour-long distraction in which the shocking removal of a character’s eye carries the same emotional weight as a joke about the Incredible Hulk’s penis. Seriously, Ragnarok zips from joke to joke to plot twist to joke with the same alacrity as a thirsty bottom swiping through Grindr. Many viewers wouldn’t have even thought twice if Ragnarok threw in a same-sex goodbye before its “plot-lite” story zipped off to the next thrill. Surely, this excuse was nothing more than a justification of cowardice.
That’s not to mention that Waititi himself decided to play the character Korg, who is gay in Marvel canon, as 100% straight. Just imagine how truly revolutionary it would be to see a masc superhero with literal rock-hard abs (Korg is made of rocks) casually admit to being gay, and you’ll get even angrier about all of Waititi’s/Marvel/s/Disney’s willfully-missed opportunities with Ragnarok.
We ask again: Would it have killed Waititi/Marvel/Disney to have included just one nod to Valkyrie’s or Korg’s sexuality? Even when Beauty and the Beast faced boycotts across the world over its inclusion of a gay character, it still met predictions and made almost $175 million domestically in its opening weekend. Assuming the presence of an honest-to-Gaga queer character in a Disney or Marvel film would set off the same alarms, isn’t it worth the risk of losing a couple thousand dollars if it means you get to thoughtfully represent 10% of the world’s population?
Perhaps DC will surprise everyone and do something right by making Wonder Woman bisexual? There’s a current petition asking Wonder Woman 2 to do just that, so fingers crossed. In the meantime, we’ll just have to wait patiently for the day when we can see Hulk smash … Thor’s ass.