Photo from Marvel.com
Marvel has been shaking up up the comic world with a series of shocking announcements. Starting in October, Marvel will be restarting many of its well known and loved titles with surprising new twists. Captain America will be forced to pick a successor, and the new Thor will be a woman.
Thor is my favorite series, so I will admit, when I first heard the news I was a little conflicted. On one hand, I love that one of the “Big Two” is making steps to reach out to its female audience, and I love the idea of a Norse Goddess headlining, (hell yes, I will be cosplaying her). On the other hand, I am a bit sad that the God of Thunder I know and love is going to be stepping down (I have gotten a bit attached to him and all).
Most of the conversation right now is focused around the gender change, but is that really where we should be focusing our attention? The news that Cap is picking a successor (Falcon, a male character) appears to be going down much more smoothly than the news on Thor. If you Google in “Falcon takes over for Cap” you will see article after article talking about how much sense it makes, and how logical it is for the story. Is it less logical for Thor, just because a female is the successor? As Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso says, “If we can accept Thor as a frog and a horse-faced alien, we should be able to accept a woman.”
Marvel has made no secret of the fact that this move is a deliberate attempt to draw female fans. According to Marvel’s website, “Thor will be the 8th title to feature a lead female protagonist and aims to speak directly to an audience that long was not the target for super hero comic books in America: women and girls.” Women are increasing in numbers as consumers for the comic book industry. According to studies such as the ones at graphicpolicy.com and Comic Beat, women are a steady 1/3 of fans, and that number will only increase as companies begin to add content with women in mind, (assuming it’s good content). For a multimillion dollar industry, 1/3 is a lot of buying power. So yes, women are finally getting more representation in comics. What draws us to comics is the same as any other reader, compelling characters, fun villains and good stories.
We know that the Thor we love isn’t going away, he’s just being… demoted. Art of an “Unworthy Thor” by has been released and Ryan Penagos from Marvel (Agent M) on Twitter says, “He’s not going away. He’s still a major part, there’s a story reason why he’s unworthy of the hammer, but still a hero.”
There is nothing new about a new character coming in to take on the mantle of an old one. Heck, sometimes signing up to be a sidekick is pretty much the same as voluntarily becoming a red shirt. Heroes come and go…and then come back again. Many speculate these shocking new arcs won’t even last, and they may be right. The old Thor may prove himself again one day and come back, but as long as in the meantime female Thor is out there kicking ass, taking names and giving us well written, fun stories, I’m happy. In the end, we should really care more that Marvel is putting out great content, rather than worrying about who is what race or gender.
Marvel truly believes is the story, despite any sexist fan rage, (and trust me, there is plenty). Agent M responded to a string of angry tweets by saying, “I genuinely believe in this story and know it’s gonna be rad. I know nerd rage is a thing, but still.”
As long as Marvel can develop an engaging, strong protagonist, who fits well into the world of Thor, and the Marvel universe, it doesn’t really matter what form Thor takes. Norse mythology isn’t really too particular about gender, or species, for that matter anyway (Loki’s children include an eight-legged horse, a serpent, and a wolf).
My only real concern is that she is written well. No hyper-sexualized or trope-y females (something many comics have been guilty of in the past). I want a tough super hero, and well developed character. As long as she has that, hurls a hammer, and kicks ass, I’m game.