Straightwashing and bi erasure in Hollywood are real, quantifiable phenomenon. Now Thor: Ragnorak star Tessa Thompson, who plays the fearless Valkyrie, a character who is bisexual in the comics, has confirmed that a scene she convinced director Taika Waititi to shoot that would have confirmed her character’s queerness was left on the cutting room floor.
Thompson, who proclaimed on Twitter last month that her character was bisexual and said that she played her that way, told Rolling Stone that she convinced Waititi to shoot a scene that depicted a woman leaving Valkyrie's bedroom, which did not make the final cut of the movie because “it distracted from the scene's vital exposition,” according to the publication.
The actress, best known for Dear White People, Creed, and Westworld, said she was inspired by an illustration in the comics of her character and the anthropologist Annabelle Riggs. "There's this great illustration of them in a kiss," she said.
While the scene of Valkyrie’s female romantic partner exiting her bedroom was cut from the film, Thompson said, "There were things that we talked about that we allowed to exist in the characterization, but maybe not be explicit in the film.” She then described a flashback scene in which Cate Blanchett’s villainous Goddess of Death murders Valkyrie’s warrior clan.
“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,” Thompson told Rolling Stone.
It’s not unusual for entire storylines to be cut from the final version of a film, but the choice to cut out a key scene confirming Valkyrie’s attraction to women feeds into the larger Hollywood problem of bi-erasure and straightwashing that’s been a staple of big-screen adaptations of other source material for decades.
This summer, the big screen adaptation of Wonder Woman, which drew raves and big box office, failed in terms of portraying its titular character as bisexual as she’s depicted in the comics. But Wonder Woman wasn’t the first female superhero whose bisexuality was erased. Mystique, played by Rebecca Romijn and Jennifer Lawrence in the X-Men franchise, was completely de-queered by the time she hit the big screen.
But queer erasure goes back to the beginning of film and television. Quite famously, the female lead characters of Fried Green Tomatoes, who engaged in a years-long romantic relationship in the book, were depicted as just friends in the film from 1991. Meanwhile the big-screen Troy turned a romantic relationship between Brad Pitt’s Achilles and the character Patroclus into simply a friendship.
While Valkyrie’s bisexuality was not depicted openly in Thor: Ragnorak, in theaters this weekend, Thompson, who is slated to appear in Avengers: Infinity War, told Rolling Stone that she hopes her character’s sexuality is fully depicted in the future.