Batwoman, Thunder and Valkyrie.

Queer Black Femme Heroes in TV & Film

“Queer Black women heroes don’t just exude power from their abilities but from their sense of style and emotional intelligence. The superhero landscape could use a lot more women like them.”

Queer Black Femme Heroes in TV & Film

I owe so much to the Black queer women in my life. As a young questioning queer person stumbling to a B.S. at VCU in Richmond VA, they were vital in shaping me to be the person I am today. I’m always looking for queer Black representation in TV and film, especially in the superhero realm. Queer Black women heroes have been getting their just due visibility, and I got a bouquet of flowers for each one.  

Valkyrie rides Pegasus into battle. (Source: Thor Ragnarok)

Valkyrie

In the Marvel Thor mythology, The Valkyrie were a legendary team of fearless female warriors. The Valkyrie went toe to toe with Hela, the goddess of death. Hela defeated all of them in battle except for one. Tessa Thompson goes god mode as the one and only Valkyrie, a brew-drinking badass who subdued Thor faster than Loki or a Dark Elf ever did…

And she’s a bisexual Black woman.

Not only that, you’re rocking with the MCU’s very first LGBTQIA+ character period. She’ll pull up on you with the stick on a winged horse and make you wish you never cleared customs at Asgard International. 

As a native Asgardian, Valkyrie possesses the flyest starter pack in all the nine realms: Superhuman strength and speed, durability and a handy healing factor. I love how Valkyrie stayed on Thor’s easily sunburnt neck. “Don’t get familiar” is one of the Blackest lines to come out of the MCU.

Overcoming depression that comes with the loss of a loved one is never easy. But as she found new friendships and a sense of purpose, Tessa Thee Valkyrie gained the confidence to help save the people of Asgard. Now she’s in charge, and we can nothing but bow down. 

Ryan Wilder as Batwoman. (Source: The CW)

Ryan Wilder/Batwoman

My two biggest complaints about the Bat-Family were unexpectedly answered when the CW announced that bisexual actress Javicia Leslie was cast as the charismatic Ryan Wilder, the new Batwoman. Due to Ruby Rose’s departure, the show had to pen Kate Kane out of the picture and give the cowl to another worthy warrior. 

Ryan is first introduced to us living as a nomad, still processing the trauma of watching her mother killed in front of her by Alice while trying to stay out of jail. One day, fate came flying towards her in the form of a plane wreck. The burning pile of rubble just so happened to carry one bulletproof Batsuit and a wig that was *quickly* given the natural treatment to make Ryan the new protector of Gotham. Leslie is trained in Muay Thai, which translates to how Ryan hands out fades like it’s Back To School time. Her suit is equipped with all the quintessential Batcessories. Batarangs, the bo staff, and you know she’s sliding over the Batmobile while she shoots her grappling gun.

Fighting for the Black women like her mother who are constantly oppressed in a corrupt world, Wilder refused to give up the suit when she first found it. She was right to do that. To this day, I’ve never seen a member of the Bat Family use their 1 percent gadgets to go out of their way to help Black people…until Ryan. As a young Black girl who was kidnapped from her foster home, she’s always had a burning desire to look out for the kids her captor told her no one cared about. Ryan Wilder is a force to be reckoned with. Also her favorite color is yellow, isn’t that like just the best?

Anissa Pierce as Thunder

Anissa Pierce/Thunder/Blackbird

Nafeesa Williams stomps evil down as Anissa Pierce. AKA Anissa “Take No Shit” Pierce. AKA Anissa “Don’t Leave Ya Girl Round Me” Pierce. 

We’re first introduced to Anissa when her father, Black Lighting, reprimanded her after getting arrested for being at a protest. She’s extremely passionate about the liberation of Black people, and nothing stops her from making her voice heard. 

The minute I saw Thunder rolling around in bed with her then-girlfriend…in her parent’s house…I knew I was gonna love this show to death. Anissa Pierce is an example of what happens when a Black family accepts their child’s queerness without question. LGBTQ+ representation has been making excellent strides in the past 5 years. However, so many queer-led shows have had this uncomfortable trope of glorifying the act of coming out to the family. It normalizes the idea that this extremely personal moment in someone’s life is meant to be a spectacle, or it didn’t really happen. 

We find out about Anissa’s coming out story in passing, which I appreciated. Not every coming-out story is a long, drawn-out, tension-filled discussion. Sometimes it’s an “Oh, ok. So what should we have for dinner?” While it is a huge privilege to have two accepting parents, it’s nice to see a different depiction of what it looks like to reveal your sexual identity to your family. Just let her love on Grace in peace. There’s no need to pull a Love, Simon, every time. 

The Godly Thunderclap

Following in her father Black Lightning’s footsteps, as soon as Anissa discovered her powers she donned a blue skintight outfit. Then she donned another one that properly handled her curves, becoming the heroine known as Thunder. 

Thunder has a wide range of superhuman abilities including super strength, invulnerability, and an accelerated healing factor. But her name Thunder comes from her ability to create stomp-induced shockwaves and thunderclaps, wiping out a whole room full of The 100 goons with one strong breath. She deflects bullets with ease and can lift and throw a military tank like a beach ball. But that’s not her only claim to fame. Anissa also moonlights as Blackbird, going on covert op missions Thunder can’t do because of Black Lightning’s image. When Anissa ran up in a drug dealer’s safehouse and thunderstomped they ashy asses? When she took every last dollar bill they had and handed it right to a Black church? The single hardest DC CW moment in history. 

Thunder is a true hero. She circumvented respectable heteropatriarchal norms that are too often the skeleton of mainstream Black liberation movements. If you see that long braid? You better start running! 

I have so much love for these women. Each one carries their own type of confidence, compassion, and even though they’re super, vulnerable. Queer Black women heroes don’t just exude power from their abilities but from their sense of style and emotional intelligence. The superhero landscape could use a lot more women like them. 

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