WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for Marvel's Thor: Ragnarok, opening Friday in North America with showings starting tonight.
Thor: Ragnarok is full of larger-than-life Marvel Comics heroes, from the thunder god himself to the Incredible Hulk to Doctor Strange. But among all of those the obvious inclusions, did Marvel Studios sneak an appearance by another classic character right under the audience's nose? Quite possibly.
We’ve known from the start that Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, would have a substantial role in the film, and most viewers will likely agree that she brings a fresh dynamic to the franchise as a rogue Asgardian warrior. However, she’s only ever referred to in the film directly or as "Scrapper 142," presumably a reference to the character's 1971 comic book debut in Marvel's Incredible Hulk #142. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) recognized her as one of the Valkyrie, an elite female fighting force that attempted to defeat Hela but failed.
In the Marvel comics, Valkyrie has been part of the Defenders, the Avengers and Secret Avengers, but her name real name Brunnhilde. And like Thor, she’s based on a Norse deity of a similar name: Brynhildr. She’s a warrior who was part of the Valkyrior, chosen by Odin to retrieve the dead from the battlefield and escort them to Valhalla.
For fans of that version of the Marvel Comics hero, there's some good news: Brunnhilde appears in Thor: Ragnarok, at least briefly. About midway through the film, we see a Valkyrie who more closely resembles her traditional comic book depiction. It's a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo, so don’t feel too bad if you didn’t catch it.
At a moment in the film, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) gives Thompson's Valkyrie a reason to fight by casting her mind back to the failed mission against Hela seen again and again in the trailers. It’s the scene in which all of the Valkyrie face down the goddess of death after she's banished by Odin for being too violent and ambitious. But as the Valkyrie attack Hela, she hurls hundreds of spears and swords at the warriors, killing nearly all of them. Thompson’s Valkyrie survives, but only just. And as she crawls through the dirt among the fallen bodies, she comes across one blonde fighter. She bears a striking resemblance to the classic character from the comics. And although the dead warrior is not referred to as Brunnehilde, it’s not impossible that Marvel Studios included her.
Opening Friday nationwide, director Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as Hulk, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Cate Blanchett as Hela, Jeff Goldblum as The Grandmaster, Idris Elba as Heimdall, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, and Karl Urban as Skurge.