As many of you likely already know, Marvel announced out of nowhere that Thor is going to now be a woman. I by no means believe this is a permanent change, but I do want to talk about it and what it means, here in my first improvised post in my new column at the Thoughts.
While I am in favor of increasing and improving diversity in comics and all media, constantly switching the identities of and replacing characters is not the way to do it. There are a lot more examples of this that I will return to, but for now the matter at hand.
Have we given up on Sif? Valkyrie? Even Dani Moonstar (a Native American mutant) when she became one of Hela’s Valkyries? There are already existing female Norse-themed characters in the Marvel Universe.
Why do this instead of further developing already existing female characters? There is a wealth of them at Marvel.
Why revisit an idea that’s been tried before and didn’t really catch on? For those of you who remember the Earth X storyline from 1999, you’ll also remember that Marvel’s answer to Kingdom Come sported a female Thor, transformed by some trickery of Loki’s.
And speaking of Loki, did the female Loki (Loki possessing Sif’s body) from Straczynski’s run on Thor lead to this in some way or influence it at all? Just examining possible leads here.
And again, why get worked up over some change that won’t last past the next Avengers film? The status quo always wins in comics.
I can sort of see the strategy here, but the market doesn’t really work the way Marvel may hope it will in this instance. You can’t take the existing fanbase of a wonderful title, throw a change like this on them, and expect it to be accepted without question just for the furthering of an arguably noble cause. I doubt Thor: God of Thunder will lose a huge percentage of its readership over this, but there is still some alienation that will occur. But I trust Jason Aaron on this one so far.
And this brings us to the circular trap of identifying with a character. When you undo a male, white character so that a non-white, non-male audience can identify with him or her and then expect the white, male portion of the audience to accept the change and see the character in the same light, you’ve basically undone the reason for the change to occur to begin with. Rather, would a stronger course of action be to encourage everyone to simply try to understand someone who is different from them and move forward from there? I think that is a stronger place for creating new characters and building up existing ones.
I leave you all with these questions. Let me know your thoughts below.
An afterthought: people thinking this may be a threat to Chris Hemsworth’s role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe need to think on how much it would likely cost to pay him out of the remainder of his contract. There are also legal concerns with violating such an agreement.