I know Funko Pops aren’t exactly the place we should be looking at to judge how a company views its own products, but bear with me here. The Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Funko Pops were unveiled today at Funko Fair, the digital event where the collectible manufacturer reveals upcoming figures. And I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw what character Funko and Ubisoft chose to make into a little vinyl figurine to represent its latest open world game. It’s main character Eivor, specifically the male version of the character. One figure holds one axe, while the GameStop exclusive one holds two. Female Eivor gets no such figure. As Fanbyte freelancer Jay Castello says, “the two genders are axe and two axes.” Why is that funny? I’m glad you asked.
The following will contain spoilers for Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
For those that don’t know, Ubisoft had a very strange marketing campaign leading up to the launch of Valhalla, in that it did very little to spotlight the female version of Eivor. The player is given the opportunity to pick between a male or female version of the character at the beginning of the game, and is also able to switch between them at will. Most of Valhalla’s trailers and other promotional material featured the male version of Eivor. This included the reveal trailer and the game’s front cover, while lady Eivor was relegated to a reversible cover not shown on store shelves, and was given her own cinematic trailer that was, for some reason, labeled as a promo for the game’s soundtrack going to digital storefronts. Oh, and she was also officially unveiled to the world through the game’s special edition as a statue, while male Eivor got to be front and center in a cinematic trailer.
Funko Fair 2021: Assassins Creed Valhalla. Pre-order the legendary Viking raider, Evior now! ⚔️ https://t.co/XNEfohoUp8 #FunkoFair #Funko #AssassinsCreed #AssassinsCreedValhalla pic.twitter.com/s6YCavWZce
— Funko (@OriginalFunko) January 21, 2021
This is already gross enough and likely emblematic of Ubisoft’s mishandling of the series’ female characters in the past. Previous games in the franchise, including Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey were intended to be led by their female heroes, but higher-ups stepped in and they were relegated to a supporting character and an option respectively. So while the focus on male Eivor might not have been surprising based on the company handling it, seeing the final game through to the end makes the continued ignoring of female Eivor more bizarre. Because she’s canon. She is Eivor. Male Eivor isn’t even really a thing.
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I wrote about this shortly after finishing the game (er, well as much as I can), but Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla’s letting you switch genders is baked into the game’s lore. The premise is that you’re reliving Eivor’s memories through examining her DNA, and there are two competing streams that you can hone in on at any moment. But after you get to a certain point in the game, you learn that Eivor is canonically a woman, and playing as male Eivor is possible through honing in on Odin’s DNA, as she is a reincarnation of the Norse God. It’s a whole thing. Assassin’s Creed lore is wild. But that’s not what we’re here to get into. The point is, Eivor is a woman. It’s a lot to contend with, especially when it comes to the game’s representation of queer relationships. But facts are facts.
And yet, despite Eivor being who she is, Ubisoft is still not really acknowledging that. The reveal is positioned as a late-game twist, but it’s only treated as such because that’s the narrative the company has written by portraying Eivor as a man in almost every chance it gets. So why is the real Eivor the one that is still fighting for any spotlight? Well, you probably don’t have to guess.
It’s a weird thing to immediately think of when I see Funko Pops, but given how it was such a sore spot for me finding out my gay viking Eivor wasn’t actually who I thought he was, I can’t help but be more aware of how weird it is that Ubisoft is still burying its female lead. Even after the truth of her very existence is public knowledge.. She deserves more respect than being constantly overshadowed by the Norse god she was in a past life. And if she can’t just be the lone protagonist of her own story, she at least deserves her own bug-eyed vinyl figurine.