Max Payne Valkyrie Tattoo and Norse Viking Mythology

Max Payne wing tattooMax Payne, a 2001 Remedy Entertainment video game and 2008 noir action film with Mark Wahlberg and Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace Bond girl), features several meaningful allusions to Norse mythology. Valkyr, a drug invented to improve morale of the U. S. soldiers but halted due to unwanted side effect, is reminiscent of valkyrie (Old Norse valkyrje, which literally means ‘chooser of the slain’, the root val being the same as in Valknut, ‘knot of the slain’). In the game and the movie valkyries seen by those who take Valkyr are male demonic creatures. Quite on the contrary, in Norse mythology valkyries are female. Valkyries choose warriors dying in battle: those who were brave become einherjar and after their death go to Valhalla (‘hall of the slain’) where they are served by valkyries. In Max Payne, Valhalla Project is the government-funded conspiracy that created Valkyr. In the movie, when Max (Mark Wahlberg) and Mona (Mila Kunis) try to find out the meaning of the wing tattoo that both Michelle, Max’s wife, and Natasha, Mona’s sister, had, the tattoo artist (Stephen R. Hart) tells them that Vikings used wing tattoos for protection in battle. It is interesting that the tattoo artist has a Vegvísir, or Runic Compass, on his left shoulder. Björk has the same tattoo on her left upper arm. Michelle, Max’s late wife, worked for Aesir Corporation, based in Aesir Plaza. Norse æsir (singular áss) were one of the two groups of the Viking gods in the Scandinavian pantheon. CEO of the Aesir Corporation is Nicole Horne: her name may point to Horn Triskelion or to Gjallarhorn, the mythic horn, which will announce the end of the world. Valkyrie wings tattooThe other name with apocalyptic overtones is Jack Lupino. In Italian, lupino means wolfish. According to Norse mythology the wolf Fenrir kills Odin during the events of Ragnarök (Old Norse ‘final destiny of the gods’), when the world in its present form perishes. This also explains the name of the night club Ragna Rock, Lupino’s lair. The surname of Max’s partner, Alex Balder, shot by a killer, refers to god Balder whose death is described in Edda as a tragedy and a sign of the coming Ragnarök. The surname of Alfred Woden (video game only) is the Anglo-Saxon variant of Odin. Like the Norse god, Alfred Woden is single-eyed. Asgard Building where Max Payne talks to Woden is reminiscent of Ásgarðr (Old Norse ‘enclosure of the æsir’), the city or country where gods dwell. Yggdrasil, the computer network in the military base, refers to the world tree that stands in the middle of Asgard. Finally, the snowstorm that takes place in Max Payne may refer to Fimbulwinter, a terrible winter that precedes Ragnarök. You may want to visit the article where wing tattoos in Max Payne are treated more in detail.

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{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Matthijs Devolder

It’s a pity that the movie’s producers didn’t check up any of the Norse mythological elements that they use throughout the film, and used them in a more correct fashion. Great article though.

Season’s greetings
MD

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Mark Hardwicke

I am trying to find an image of the tattoo that Stephen R Hart shows Max Payne out of the tattoo book. Is is symmetrical set of wings that have stems then run on for a while, getting closer and closer but never touch.

Your assistance, input, suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Mark

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Viking Rune

Dear Mark,
Unfortunately, I was unable to find the image of that tattoo. I only could say that the source is not related to the Viking Age patterns.

Update: Mark, I just added the image of the tattoo you asked.

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Rob

Hey Mark, that’s exactly the one I have been looking for, I’ve been planning it for my next tattoo, but I’m the same countless hours of looking and nothing, looks like I’ll have to pull the image from the film, what about you, any luck yet?

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Jamie Clarke

Hey you guys,

This is so weird, I have just watched the film and thought the same as you… Tattoo! ha. I have tryed to get the image of it but no luck. All I can say is that the best place to get the image is to take a photo from the dvd. I’ve done that and you can see quite clearly. Best of luck guys. Facebook me with photos if any of you manage to get an image… Jamie Clarke, Kirkcudbright Academy…

JC

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karl

Just want to say thanks for taking the time to draw the wings. You have done a great job and saved me some time haha.

Do you know any websites where I could find out more about them and the valkyr?

Cheers

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karl

Hahaha just realized I can get all that info from this site.

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Tabitha

GREAT article. Very well thought out! I’m trying to find a nice pair of wings for my next tattoo (the only picture you see of any good Valkyrie wings is from Max Payne). My daughter’s middle name is Valkyrie, way before the movie Max Payne, and didn’t play the video game. I thought a nice tattoo would be her first name with Valkyrie wings (because I’m not sure a helmet with wings would look quite right). Thanks for the interpretation of the movie wings!

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Viking Rune

Thanks for the feedback, Tabitha. By the way, you may want to write your daughter’s name in Norse runes.

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Daniel

Hi I’m trying to find the image or a similar image of the Valkyrie wings that the character Jack Lupino has on his back in Max Payne, I’ve been looking for a while now as I’d like it more a similar image as a tattoo.

Your assistance, input or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Daniel

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Shawn Wilks

I just had the Valkyrie wings put on both of my forearms. I will take some pictures of them and put them on Facebook. If you can’t find me there email me and I will forward you the pictures as well. My tattoo artist took the wing that was added above and printed it out. Then he hand sketched over it to make the patteren and then presto, very, very cool Valkyrie wings. Everyone likes them, the first one he has done.

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Viking Rune

Hi Shawn. I got the pictures. The tattoos really look great!

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Pj C

Hey Shawn,
Is it possible for you to forward those images to me? I’ve been searching for them everywhere and still no luck. If you can, it would be greatly appreciated.

Reply

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