Guys. Taika Waititi knows about our Valkyrie/Captain Marvel ship. Not only does he know about it, but he has some advice for the fandom.
The Valkyrie/Captain Marvel ship has been a fan favorite for a while. It gained a significant boost of energy when Tessa Thompson stated at SDCC that Valkyrie “needs to find her queen” now that she leads the Asgardians and has been chugging along strongly since then. Thompson, an openly bisexual woman herself, has long advocated for Valkyrie’s bisexuality to be more firmly stated on-screen and Brie Larson is also on board with the pairing overall, too. Their panel at ACE Comic Con earlier this month was also filled with delightful shipping talk so the fandom knows we have their support on this front. It’s been absolutely amazing to have this type of support from the cast about this and I couldn’t be more grateful for their engagement.
Now Thor: Love and Thunder writer and director Taika Waititi has stepped into the discussion. His commentary, however, comes in the form of some words of caution instead of the outright support Thompson and Larson have given us. Yet I’m oddly alright with this given the context of his comments, even though usually this type of shut down might ruffle my feathers a bit. Could it be my Waititi bias? Maybe. But there’s also context here that we need to consider.
In a recent interview with Wired, Waititi was asked about the ship, and stated the following:
“The thing is, I think it’s dangerous for people to say too much about what they want with Marvel, because then they will tend to go the other way. You want to listen to the fans to a point. But also you don’t want to have a completely fan-made film because then it doesn’t feel like there’s any point. You want to have people surprised.”
I’d urge my fellow shippers to not take this comment as a negative, even though it seems to shut the ship down for now. I certainly don’t take it as a negative and I’m fairly active in shipping campaigns (let’s all remember how enthusiastic I was during the whole #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend thing). I can be particularly picky when it comes to shipping talk from writers and directors and don’t hold back when they dismiss us or belittle us. I don’t feel like that’s what he’s doing here, though, and I’m taking his comments within the context of who he is and his relationship to the creation of these stories.
Instead of being outright anti-shipping or, even worse, queerbaiting us (and thus having us all feel used when it doesn’t happen later), he’s looking at this from a pragmatic creator’s standpoint. Giving fans everything they want would make the story become predictable and could limit his creativity as a writer. This is a valid point of view for a writer, even though sometimes this type of commentary can be weaponized to squash any and all same-sex pairings that fans come up with by other creators. Shippers have a right to feel uneasy when this type of phrasing surfaces. We’ve been dismissed a lot with many different excuses and it’s been hecka frustrating. But again, this feels different.
The difference here is with what this statement doesn’t do. It doesn’t eliminate the possibility for either or both of them to be explicitly queer in the MCU. While it definitely prepares fans to not get this particular ship in Love and Thunder, Thompson’s comments at SDCC and Feige’s vocal support seem to be confirmation that at the very least we will get Valkyrie’s sexuality firmly stated in Love and Thunder. Just how firmly stated? I’m not sure. Feige himself was also vague about it, but it’s been put out in the universe now and something is on the way. We could even get a different but also incredible ship that we don’t even know about yet, which could be amazing. We just don’t know yet.
We almost had this sort of confirmation in Ragnorak, but the scene got cut, so we were left with Thompson’s comments after the fact as our only confirmation that Valkyrie was bisexual. Let’s be real, we have a sketchy history with being told off-screen that characters are queer (never forget Dumbledore), so this wasn’t exactly the best way for it to be confirmed. In a lot of circles, it doesn’t count if we learn about it off-screen. That too is valid, and I tend to agree with that standard. But now we’re getting something concrete, even if it doesn’t align with our particular shipping preference at this time and we aren’t exactly sure what it is yet.
There’s also always the possibility another writer might feel compelled to drive these two character’s together at a later date. It’s not in the cards now and we shouldn’t get our hopes up (per Waititi’s warning about what writers are liable to do), but this isn’t some nail in the coffin for the ship forever. Keep shipping, folks. Keep enjoying this dynamic. Keep believing that it’s possible, but also understand that maybe it’s not in the cards for us. Not every ship is going to go canon and that sucks sometimes, but overall representation can still have a meaningful impact in the long run.
Waititi’s statements also doesn’t tell us to stop being enthusiastic shippers, or to stop engaging with them about our ships. It’s just a word of warning that they won’t always follow our desires and to brace ourselves for them going their own way with the plot. Sometimes, the popularity of an idea – any idea – could drive a writer away from it in an attempt to make the plot less predictable. As someone who has been part of many campaigns before, that’s not always an easy thing to hear, but it’s still an important thing to hear.
It helps that advocating for representation does work sometimes. In this situation, Tessa Thompson advocated for Valkyrie, and now it’s going to happen. So thank you for advocating for this, Tessa. Thank you fandom for being amazing as always. And thank you Taika Waititi for being candid and respectful about this often touchy subject.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.
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