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From Black Widow to female Thor: all the ways the future of Marvel is female

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson

From Natalie Portman as the female Thor to Tessa Thompson as the first LGBTQIA character in the franchise, these are all the ways Marvel is prioritising its female narratives.

At the end of April’s Avengers: Endgame, fans had just one question: what would a Marvel cinematic universe look like without its most beloved characters? What would these superhero movies look like without Iron Man, Black Widow and Captain America?

The answer is, well, pretty great. Because the future of the next phase of the Marvel cinematic universe is female.

At a panel at San Diego Comic Con (SDCC), Marvel boss Kevin Feige announced a new slate of films that looks phenomenally diverse, both in front and behind the camera. Here are the new female-led Marvel films to get excited for.

Natalie Portman as female Thor

In Thor: Love and Thunder, the fourth Thor movie — or Thour, as we shall henceforth refer to it — Portman will take up the hammer of Thor as the female goddess of thunder. The actor was presented with her new weapon by director Taika Waititi while she stood onstage with Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson. 

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Natalie Portman is playing the first-ever female Thor, and we’re so here for it

“So thrilled to share the news with you today that I’ll be returning to the Marvel MCU as female Thor with legends Taika Waititi, Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth,” she wrote, adding: “Remember this as the before picture for when I get jacked.” 

Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie will be the MCU’s first LGBTQIA character

Introduced in Thor: Ragnarok, Tessa Thompson’s hard-drinking, hard-living warrior Valkyrie is a firm fan favourite character. When she returned in Avengers: Endgame as the new leader of the displaced kingdom of Asgard, her new role hinted at the increased importance the character would play in future Marvel movies.

This was confirmed on stage at SDCC, when Thompson informed the audience that her “first order of business” will be establishing Valkyrie as a canonically queer character.

“First of all, as king, as new king [of Asgard], she needs to find her queen,” Thompson grinned. “So that will be the first order of business. She has some ideas. I’ll keep you posted. And then, I don’t know what’s cool about Asgard — as it has already been mentioned — Asgard is not a place but a people. So I think just reinvesting in her people, and a cool thing is to create a refuge for any person who might need it. That to me is the idea of a perfect Asgard.” 

Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok
Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok

Thompson, who herself is bisexual, has spoken about Valkyrie’s sexuality before. The actor has confirmed that she lobbied director Waititi to film a scene in which a woman was pictured leaving Valkyrie’s bedroom, but that it was cut from the final film.

“There were things that we talked about that we allowed to exist in characterisation, but maybe not be explicit in the film,” Thompson said. “There’s a great shot of me falling back from one of my sisters who’s just been slain. In my mind, that was my lover.”  

Marvel announces its first solo female directors

After helming Captain Marvel with her producing partner Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden became Marvel’s first female director. But the studios next phase of films will involve their first solo female filmmakers, including Australian director Cate Shortland, who is helming the Black Widow prequel and Chloe Zhao, who has been tapped to lead Marvel’s new ensemble flick The Eternals.

Chloe Zhao embraced by her The Eternals star Richard Madden
Chloe Zhao embraced by her The Eternals star Richard Madden

The Eternals makes good on a promise of inclusivity

Diversity isn’t just the name of the game behind the camera when it comes to The Eternals. The cast of this movie is seriously and meaningfully diverse. Led by Angelina Jolie and Richard Madden, the movie also stars Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek, Brian Tyree Henry, Ma Dong Seok, Lia McHugh and Lauren Ridloff, a deaf actor of colour who has officially become Marvel’s first deaf superhero.

Black Widow’s final stance

For too many years, Black Widow was the only female superhero in Marvel’s canon. And while this is no longer the case, the super-assassin played by Scarlett Johansson is still one of the most powerful and recognisable figures from the franchise.

Though she died saving her friends in Avengers: Endgame, Black Widow is getting the send off she deserves in her forthcoming prequel, filming as we speak and starring Johansson alongside Rachel Weisz and Florence Pugh. 

Rachel Weisz and Scarlett Johansson
Rachel Weisz and Scarlett Johansson will star in Black Widow. 

Speaking at SDCC, Johansson said that she was honoured to be part of Marvel’s new wave of female-led films. “There’s a lot of women up there that I hugely admire,” Johansson said. “Angelina, Salma, Rachel, Tessa, Natalie. It’s bananas. I think it’s very exciting. I think it grounds the presence of the MCU in a way. It’s very exciting to see such a diverse group of people. It’s awesome. And it’s about time.”

Images: Getty, Marvel

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.

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