This Valkyrie is the true Asgardian Goddess, and she first appeared in issue 4 of The Defenders (1973). Before that, in The Avengers issue 83 (1970), Amora the Enchantress was seen pretending to be Valkyrie, and there is also a human named Samantha Parrington who first appeared and received Valkyrie powers in The Incredible Hulk issue 142 (1971), before the original Valkyrie appeared.
Brunnhilde, the Asgardian goddess, is one of Asgard's mightiest warriors and the leader of the Valkyrior, Odin's slain choosers. Outside of Asgard, she is known simply as "Valkyrie," and she has long been a member of the Defenders and, more recently, the Avengers.
Brunnhilde and Sif were among the few female Asgardians who began training to become warriors at a young age. Due to Sif's jealousy, the two girls began as rivals, believing that the blonde Brunnhilde would be more competitive for Thor's affections. Even though the two had a rocky start, they eventually became allies when Brunnhilde assisted Sif in breaking an enchantment placed on Thor by Amora when she used the Mirror of Mycha. Sif is still possibly the only female Asgardian who can compete with Brunnhilde in combat. Brunnhilde was appointed by the All-Father, Odin, to lead the Valkyrior in searching the battlefields for worthy mortals on the verge of death and escorting them to Valhalla. Brunnhilde was so skilled at this task and so well-known for her abilities that she was able to hold this position of power for centuries.
Valkyrie's ascension to Valkyrie has been made more thorough recently. Brunnhilde frequently trained with Odin's best warrior, Sigmund, in her youth, learning many life and combat lessons from him. Sigmund is hit in the heart by an arrow while protecting Brunnhilde during a battle. Brunnhilde is discovered in tears, cradling Sigmund's body, by Odin, who orders her to flee and leave the dead. Valkyrie refuses, much to Odin's chagrin, claiming that the dead must be buried so that their souls can be cared for, and referring to Odin as a Usurper. Odin questions why she would challenge a God over a corpse, prompting Brunnhilde to draw her blade and prepare to fight Odin. Odin, impressed, declares that the slain warriors must have a heaven and assigns her as her guide to Valhalla.
Major Story Arcs
Odin admired Valkyrie's success and combat prowess so much that he tasked her with subduing his son, Thor, when he destructively tore through the mortal realm of Midgard after the humans he had been protecting ate his beloved steeds. Despite Brunnhilde's victory over the Thunder God, the two were forced to work together to defeat a Storm Giant who had come to destroy Midgard. Following that, both Asgardians appeared to have a brief tryst before returning to their respective duties.
Brunnhilde met Enchantress in a village tavern on the outskirts. If she accompanied the Enchantress, she would live a life of adventure and excitement. However, when Brunnhilde attempted to move on to other tasks, Amora turned on her and trapped her essence inside a soul crystal, trapping her for centuries. This crystal was frequently used by Amora to access the Valkyrie's superior physical abilities for herself or to enhance her pawns. Amora took advantage of Valkyrie's physical appearance to rally a group of female super-humans, including Black Widow and Medusa, to form the Lady Liberators and attack the male Avengers. Her true identity was discovered, however, and her plan was foiled.
Amora used her crystal to bond Brunnhilde's essence to the mortal Barbara Norris, who was given her power and consciousness centuries later. Barbara's mind was trapped in the other realm while she was trapped in Brunnhilde's body. Barbara's memories had been erased by the Enchantress.
Brunnhilde eventually became a Defender. Brunnhilde was unaware that she was not in her true body, and her personality lacked much of its usual tenacity. She was also relentlessly pursued by Barbara's husband, Jack Norriss, who refused to accept that she was not his wife.
A return to Asgard
Valkyrie was summoned by Jennifer Kale to aid in the battle against Ghost Rider's enemies while returning to her duties as Valkyrie's leader. Valkyrie turned her attention to the other two villains after reverting one to human form with Dragonfang, but was buried under a van thrown by them. When she emerged from beneath the van, she discovered that the other villains had already been defeated and confronted Ghost Rider and Kale. When she found out she'd fought the Furies, she vowed to question Strange about her experience with them.
Later, Malekith kidnapped the majority of the Valkyrior in order to use their powers to dethrone Odin. He sent Fenris against Valkyrie, who was severely weakened in battle. Valkyrie, formerly of the Valkyrior, crashed to Earth near Moonstar. Valkyrie asked Moonstar for assistance, giving her a bit of her life essence to protect her, just as Valkyrie was kidnapped and returned to Asgard by Fenris. Malekith bound Valkyrie with the other Valkyrior, pleading with her to give up her ability to traverse dimensions. Moonstar dispatched X-Force to Asgard in order to free the Valkyrior. The Valkyrior had surrendered their life essence to Hela in order to stop Malekith, but Moonstar returned the essence Valkyrie had given her, restoring the Valkyrior to life. Malekith was vanquished.
Valkyrie, knowing that Warpath had been killed but had not received his just reward, transported herself to the team and told them where he was before transporting them to Blackheart's hell to save Warpath. Following this, Valkyrie gathered with Hellcat and many of her friends to aid her in her fight against Mephisto.
Later, Pluto and Lorelei use the Valkyrie spell to transform Samantha Parrington back into Brunnhilde's likeness. Brunnhilde travelled to Earth with the Valkyrior to aid the new Defenders against Pluto and Lorelei, who had threatened the world with an invasion of the dead. They fled when Zeus appeared. Brunnhilde gave Samantha Parrington, the new Valkyrie, Dragonfang and Aragorn, and encouraged her to stay with the Defenders.
Valkyrie returned to Asgard, wielding Dragonfang and riding Aragorn, sensing a great need. The Valkyrior grew tired after witnessing the beginning of Ragnarok, the death of the gods. Valkyrie discovered Sif and bestowed upon her the title of Valkyrior chief, as the battles required fresh eyes. Brunnhilde and her horse then fight alongside Fenris the Wolf. Both were killed in battle by Durok the Demolisher, but she left her Valkyrie leadership and her mighty sword to Sif, who cradled her while she passed. Just before Loki's ultimate destruction of Asgard during Ragnarok, Sif avenged Brunnhilde's death. Volstagg constructed a massive funeral pyre for Valkyrie and others. Thor was reborn and used Odinforce to restore the Asgardians, including Valkyrie.
Superpowers and Abilities
Valkyrie possesses superhuman strength, capable of lifting 45 tonnes. She possesses the typical Asgardian longevity, immunity to diseases, and resistance to injury. Because of her battle training and experience, she has greater agility, stamina, and endurance than the average Asgardian. Odin has been able to temporarily increase her power levels before specific battles. Valkyrie can also detect the "deathglow," or the impending death, of nearby individuals. She has also had the ability to sense impending danger, particularly of the magical variety. She has the ability to transport herself and others to Valhalla.
Brunnhilde has received extensive training in both armed and unarmed combat, allowing her to be an expert in swordsmanship and horsemanship. Brunnhilde is also skilled with spears and swords, her main weapons being the mystical sword Dragonfang and her enchanted spear Geirr. The Dragonfang is an indestructible sword created by Kahji-da, an ancient wizard. It also has an enchantment that allows Valkyrie to change her attire whenever she wants. While sheathed, the sword is invisible and can absorb and redirect electrical blasts. The Dragonfang is said to have a mystical link to real Asgardian dragons. Valkyrie frequently rides Aragorn, her genetically altered steed, into battle.
Valkyrie keeps mental contact with other Valkyrior, including inactive ones like Danielle Moonstar. Valkyrie has access to mystical skills and dimensional travelling powers that she would not have had otherwise as the Valkyrior's leader. These could be rank-related abilities and knowledge rather than her own. She can also impart some of her life essence to others.
Valkyrie was affected by an Enchantress spell while inhabiting the body of Barbara Denton-Norris, which prevented her from defending herself against other women, regardless of their nature or threat level. Another Enchantress spell allowed a portion of Valkyrie's essence to pass to other women, transforming them into Valkyrie avatars/look-alikes with varying degrees of her abilities. Enchantress herself, Samantha Parrington, Barbara Denton-Norris, and Lorelei have all been among these women. It should be noted that Valkyrie and her avatars have occasionally been active at the same time, causing some confusion.
Appearances in Other Media
Hulk vs. Thor (2009)
Brunnhilde appears with many of her fellow Asgardian Valkior brethren in the "Hulk vs. Thor" DVD. Riding her winged steed Aragorn, Brunnhilde leads the Valkyries and a number of Asgardian warriors into battle against the Hulk, who had been transported to Asgard and controlled by Loki, in order to prevent him from gaining access to Odin's chambers while Odin was partaking of "The Odinsleep." Although she fights valiantly, Brunnhilde and her warriors are quickly defeated by the rampaging brute. Brunnhilde apparently manages to recover while Thor engaged the Hulk and, along with Sif, servies as Odin's last line of defense when the Hulk manages to breach Odin's chambers. In this DVD, Valkyrie is voiced by Nicole Oliver.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Valkyrie makes her live-action debut in the film, portrayed by Creed star Tessa Thompson. In a departure from the comics, this version of Valkyrie is black rather than white. Though this initially attracted a small amount of controversy (similar to the casting of Idris Elba as Heimdall in the first Thor movie), critics went on to praise Thompson's performance. She ended up being nominated for both a BAFTA and Saturn Award for her portrayal.
In the film, Valkyrie is introduced as a scrapper and bounty hunter who works for the Grandmaster on the world of Sakaar. When Thor crash lands on Sakaar after having been defeated by Hela, Valkyrie captures him and turns him over to the Grandmaster for a fee. Realizing she is an Asgardian, Thor attempts to get her to help him escape and save Asgard, but she refuses. As the film progresses, it is eventually revealed that Valkyrie was once a member of an elite team of warriors who served Odin, and was left as the sole survivor of the group after they were decimated by Hela. After this, she fled Asgard, and has been in hiding on Sakaar ever since. However, she eventually relents, and decides to help Thor and his friends on their quest to free their home. At the close of the film, Valkyrie chooses to continue journeying with Thor, who has now become the king of the surviving Asgardians after the death of Odin.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Tessa Thompson reprises her role in the fourth Avengers movie. Following Asgard's destruction, Valkyrie and the other surviving members of her race now live in New Asgard, a small fishing village in Norway. During the final battle, Valkyrie arrives with her winged horse to help the Avengers fight off Thanos' army. At the close of the film, Thor leaves the planet to travel the universe with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and declares Valkyrie the ruler of New Asgard.
Thor Love and Thunder
Valkyrie continues her role as king of Asgard in Thor Love and Thunder.
Valkyrie appears in the episode "Mental Organism Designed Only for Kissing". Thor falls in love with her when she helps the team defeat MODOK, Fin Fang Foom and Abomination. When Iron Man tries to invite Valkyrie out on a date, she declines noting Iron Man's failure to gather the Infinity Sword Fractals. She is voiced by Michelle Trachtenberg
Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (2011)
Valkyrie has a cameo in the episode "Fall Of Asgard" as one of the Valkyries that assists Sif in saving Giant-Man from the Frost Giants. She is voiced by Colleen O'Shaughnessey.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy (2018)
Valkyrie appears in the episodes "The Real Me" and "Paranoid," voiced by Raven-Symone.
Valkyrie has appeared as a playable character in all these games.