Deep in the all mighty realm of Asgard, home of the Norse Gods, stands Valhalla, the promised land for the souls of those who died in battle in the name of the All-father Odin. And these heroic souls require a band of valiant warriors to guide them. Such were the female warriors known as the Valkyries. Their leader is Brunnhilde, the Valkyrie, and her tale of origin is one so confusing even for the most strong-willed mortals to comprehend. Read on, if you dare!
Brunnhilde, aka Valkyrie, was based on the character of Brynhildr of Norse mythology. Before leading the Valkyries, Brunnhilde was a mortal woman who lived on Earth ages ago. She was trained in battle by her mentor and lover Sigmund. But when Odin, ruler of the Norse Gods, decided to destroy Earth, which had been corrupted by his evil brother the Serpent, Sigmund stood in his way and the ensuing battle cost him his live. Brunnhilde stood with him even in his moment of death, despite Odin giving her a chance to run away. For her courage and Sigmund’s, her life was sparred and Odin created a paradise in a small region of Asgard for the souls of those who had perished in battle by the name of Valhalla, meaning “hall of the slain” and he appointed Brunnhilde leader of a group of female warriors called the Valkyries, which would lead said souls to Valhalla.
And for many years, Brunnhilde and her Valkyries continued to bring the dead from Earth to Valhalla until Odin and the other Earth Gods were forced to cease any and all intercourse with Earth., with only the souls of Asgardians being taken to Valhalla. Frustrated by Odin’s decision, Valkyrie left her duty to wonder the Nine Realms on her own and she ended up meeting and allying Amora, the Enchantress, whom she soon found out was evil, which made Enchantress trap her soul within a mystic crystal to use for her nefarious plans.
And this is where it gets tricky. You see Valkyrie’s first appearance was in Avengers #83, created by writer Roy Thomas and John Buscema on December, 1970. But that was Enchantress disguising herself as Valkyrie in a plot to turn female heroes against the male Avengers. She then appeared in Incredible Hulk #142, created again by wirter Roy Thomas and artist Herb Trimpe. But that was Enchantress, putting the soul of Samantha Parrigton (a socialite and Hulk’s friend who was attending a protest with her women’s group) into Brunnhilde’s body, giving Samantha her powers and making her a crazed man-hater, all for Enchantress to get revenge on the Hulk. Her fight with Hulk made her turn back to normal and in her confusion she assumed it was all a dream.
Then in Defenders #4, created by writer Steve Englehart and artist Sal Buscema, Brunnhilde finally appeared, but it was only her consciousness, which Enchantress transferred (along with Valkyrie’s powers) to the body of Barbara Norriss, a woman trapped in another dimension who became mad as a result, to help her and the Defenders escape from said dimension but she did not reverse the spell afterwards. From then on, Brunnhilde became one of the longest lasting members of the Defenders.
When an Asgardian named Ollerus intended to take Valhalla from Hela, who held domain of Valhalla at the time, she summoned Valkyrie and the Defenders to join her side. But Ollerus used Barbara’s consciousness in Brunnhilde’s body to trick the Defenders into joining his side while having the real Valkyrie trapped. But she escaped and, along with the Defenders, defeated Ollerus and Barbara, whom Hela banished to Niffleheim, her domain of the dead.
Brunnhilde remained in Barbara’s body (for some reason) until it was fatally wounded and Enchantress trapped her soul in Dragonfang, Brunnhilde’s sword, to force the Defenders to help her control the entitiy known as Love. But Doctor Strange restored her soul to its original body. Brunnhilde then got back her memories and, rembering what Enchantress did to her, trapped her soul in the same crystal of souls in which she had been trapped for many years (oh the irony).
Her mind-swapping escapades may be confusing but one thing is very clear: Brunnhilde whether in Asgard, Valhalla or Earth, always acts as the shield of those in need. She had a long career in the Defenders and later joined Steve Rogers’ Secret Avengers (Rogers wasn’t Captain America then, his old pal Bucky was) where she formed a romantic relationship With Flash Thompson/Agent Venom (Peter Parker’s former bully turned soldier turned superhero). and after the events of Fear Itself, where the Serpent tried to (what else) take over the world, Brunnhilde was persuaded by the All-Mother Freyja to form a new team of all-female Defenders to protect the world.
Like many Asgardians, Valkyrie possesses superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, agility, reflexes and longevity as well as a healing factor. She, like all Valkyries, possesses the ability to perceive death wherever it is and can teleport herself and the dead to Valhalla and back. She also can speak all the languages in the Nine Realms, a gift called the Allspeak. She’s usually equipped with an iron spear and her indestructible sword Dragonfang and rides her winged horse Aragorn. Her training in armed and unarmed combat as well as horseback riding make her the best female warrior in Asgard.
Valkyrie’s popularity has been small but due to her important role in Asgard and her dedication to the cause of good she appeared in a few cartoons and video-games and even the two animated films Thor: Tales of Asgard and Hulk vs. Thor. But now with Tessa Thompson playing her, she’s finally making her cinematic debut in Thor: Ragnarok, directed by Taika Waititi and starring Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, Tom Hiddleston as Loki and Cate Blanchett as Hela and is set to premiere on November 3, 2017. Hopefully, she won’t bring her confusing Freaky Friday like backstory.
To know more about Brunnhilde, here are some reading recommendations: Defenders #2-4, The Order #1-6, Fear Itself: The Fearless and Fearless Defenders.
(Fun fact: Her winged horse Aragorn is a genetically engeneared Earth horse given to her by the superhero Black Knight along with his ebony blade.)
Written by: Miguel Coelho
Did you like this article? What more would you like to know about Valkyrie? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and stay tuned for more about the new characters coming to Thor: Ragnarok. And for more Marvel-related news, be sure to follow Geek Motivation on Twitter (@GEEKMOTIVATION) and me (@Miguel420coelho). ‘Till our paths meet again, fellow mortals!