So, about the new Thor…

thorf
The new Thor.
Image marvel.com

As I’m sure everyone interested in comic books knows by now, Marvel Comics is about to launch a new Thor series in which Mjolnir, along with the powers of Thor, is now wielded by a woman.  The series will apparently revolve around the mystery of who this woman is, as well as chronicling the events that led the classic Thor to be deemed unworthy to wield the hammer.  There has been a lot of press coverage, with most outlets praising the change as a bold, feminist move.  I, however, do not agree with this statement, and I do not feel that this will ultimately be a beneficial change for the character.

When the announcement came that a woman would be taking over the role of Thor, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, with the crux of the anger focusing on the gender specifically.  There were statements made about how this was somehow an insult to the heritage of the character and how a woman couldn’t (or shouldn’t) have Thor’s powers.  These statements seem to ignore the fact that Thor’s hammer was once used by a crocodile-like alien (try as you might, you’ll never find any tome of Norse mythology that mentions the god “Beta Ray Bill”), and was in fact held by women at various times (Wonder Woman held the hammer briefly in a company crossover, and Rogue wound up with Thor’s powers in a “What If” story).  Anyone who is worthy can hold the hammer, so there is no in-universe reason why a different character, man or woman, couldn’t become Thor.

betaraybill
Not a Norse god (but don’t tell him that!)
Image comicvine.com

By making the new Thor a woman, Marvel is hoping to appeal to the growing (or ever-present, as it were) population of female comic book readers.  Many other female Marvel characters have gained prominence lately.  Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of Black Widow has led to a resurgence of popularity for the character, while the title of the classic character “Captain Marvel” was recently taken over by Carol Danvers, the super heroine formerly known as “Ms. Marvel”.   The new “Thor” comic will be the 8th monthly Marvel title with a female lead, a list which includes an all-female X-Men team.  Marvel editor Wil Moss made the statement, “…this new Thor isn’t a temporary female substitute-she’s now the one and only Thor, and she is worthy!”  A statement like that would seem to indicate that the female Thor is the new status quo in the Marvel universe.

This is where my problem with the concept lies.

Let’s look at a few other “permanent” status quo changes in recent memory:

-Steve Rogers is killed and his former sidekick Bucky Barnes becomes Captain America (Rogers was alive again in two years, and became Captain America again in another two.)

-Peter Parker dies and Otto Octavius becomes the new Spider-Man (Parker lived on as a memory and became Spider-Man again in two years time, just in time for the new movie, even!)

-Magneto kills Jean Grey and is in turn killed by Wolverine (the dead Magneto was revealed to be an imposter a few months later.  Jean stayed dead for a long time, but recently her time displaced younger self came to the present, although she didn’t completely replace the old Jean.  Partial credit for this one.)

-The Human Torch dies (didn’t even last a year.)

-Batman is shunted into an alternate period in time and is believed dead by his friends, leading to a race to take over his title (again, a little more than a year.)

The problem I have with a female Thor is that, due to the desire of comic books to remain somewhat static, I know this isn’t a permanent change no matter how many assurances we get from the Marvel heads.  The status quo of a comic book character is defined by whatever the public at large is most familiar with.  Some time ago, DC tried to change Superman’s costume from the familiar red and blue into a blue energy…thing.  This lasted for a little while, but eventually DC changed the costume back.  In the end, when people think of Superman, they think red and blue with a cape, and no amount of electric jazz is going to change that. The basis for the red and blue costume is too deeply embedded in the public consciousness for the general public to accept anything vastly different.  This is why Aquaman no longer has a harpoon hand and Wolverine got his adamantium bones back after Magneto ripped them out.

supermanblue
No.
Image themisterrec.blogspot.com

This doesn’t mean that change is impossible, it just means that the larger audience has to accept the change for it to stick.  Most moviegoers probably aren’t aware that the recent “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie features a team that is not only NOT the original comic book team, but is a fairly recent creation.  The original Guardians have been around since the late 1960’s, but they never had a major movie made about them, so Star Lord, Rocket, and the gang have made that title theirs to the point that the upcoming comic featuring the original lineup isn’t even called “Guardians of the Galaxy” anymore.  People are more familiar with the movie lineup.  (As an aside, I believe that Carol Danvers becoming Captain Marvel WILL stick, because most people are unfamiliar with the original Captain and won’t have a problem accepting Carol in that role because of it.)

Maybe you’ve noticed, but Marvel has a few successful movies under their belt.  Due to his exposure from the successful movies, Thor is a big property for Marvel and as such is going to be even more resistant to change than before.  Why would Marvel want to introduce new fans to the movie Thor but have a vastly different one in other major forms of media?  Since the movies are so influential due to their popularity, Marvel probably isn’t going to market a (male) Thor movie only to offer (female) Thor everywhere else.  When the general public thinks of Thor, they think of Chris Hemsworth, and Marvel is ultimately going to cater to that.

hemsworth
You’re welcome.
Image totalfilm.com

I predict that the (male) Thor will return in about two years time, just in time for the new movie to come out.  At that point, the female Thor will receive some other magic doodad and will also get a new name.  Alternately, (male) Thor will return with some other magical powering device and be separate from the female Thor, but after some time he will get Mjolnir back and become Thor again.  Despite Marvel’s assurances, you will not pick up a Thor comic in ten years time and have the lead be a female.   As opposed to a stand for feminism, this change reeks of publicity stunt.  Instead of giving the title to a strong, capable woman, the end result is that Thor will let her babysit his hammer for about two or three years so he can “find himself”.

And I don’t think that’s very feminist at all.

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~ by Chris on September 19, 2014.

One Response to “So, about the new Thor…”

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