So, Thor is a Woman Now?

To be honest, I'm surprised nobody has complained about this boob armor yet. Art by Esad Ribic. Image courtesy of Marvel Comics and found at http://aggressivecomix.com/2014/07/thor-is-a-woman-now-marvel-announces/
To be honest, I’m surprised nobody has complained about this boob armor yet. Art by Esad Ribic. Image courtesy of Marvel Comics and found at http://aggressivecomix.com/2014/07/thor-is-a-woman-now-marvel-announces/

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.

To truly begin, why? Why make this change? Who is this character? Someone new? Angela? One of Thor’s future granddaughters?

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.

Image of Dani Moonstar from http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20061025182101/marveldatabase/images/4/49/Danielle_Moonstar_Valkyrie3.jpg
Image of Dani Moonstar from http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20061025182101/marveldatabase/images/4/49/Danielle_Moonstar_Valkyrie3.jpg

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.

Concept art of Earth X Thor from http://www.tgfa.org/comics/thor/images/EarthX_SpEd_09.jpg
Concept art of Earth X Thor from http://www.tgfa.org/comics/thor/images/EarthX_SpEd_09.jpg

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.

9 thoughts on “So, Thor is a Woman Now?

  1. Why would people complain about the boob armor? I do historical reenactments, and I have to tell you, her chest plate is TOTALLY something you’d see a warrior wearing. Needs a gorget and better paladins though. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I certainly have nothing against the design, but I know of people who do or would, in theory. Form-fitting female armor in video games and comics, even if it doesn’t leave much skin exposed, stil tends to catch a bit of flak. And, again, it’s not like only her nipples are covered or something like that, but I was expecting some sort of outcry, even if it was meager. My apologies if that picture caption came across as dismissive in any way.

      Either way, I thank you for stopping by, reading, and commenting. 🙂

      Like

  2. I don’t read the comics (and believe that per the studio contracts, Hemsworth will carry on as Thor in upcoming movies too, which I am fine with). For my understanding of DC and Marvel comics, many characters have had multiple existences, even though they have a main one. I read that Thor was not a white male on a few selected occasions, which is why I’m actually curious (especially as the new design is reassuring in representation) to see how Thor as a woman might unfold.

    Sure, I would be happy if Marvel and DC developed their pre-existing female characters more and that they also kept creating new ones, but I don’t have a problem with Thor as a woman. Maybe this is because I have studied Battlestar Galactica and that turning Starbuck and Boomer into women in the re-imagination created uproars, but in the end (knowing both original and new series) I think that both versions work really well (especially for Boomer as the original Starbuck got on my nerves).

    With lengthy franchises that are prone to be multi-verses, at least to a degree, and that tie to Science Fiction and/or Fantasy elements, I am quite flexible when it comes to such things, if done well.

    For example, I did have a problem with how they turned Murphy’s partner, Lewis, into a man (albeit one of color) in the new Robocop. I didn’t have a problem because of the gender switch – though it surprised me that they would focus on Murphy’s wife rather than a female professional partner and friend. What caused me to have problems was how the part of Lewis, generally speaking, felt so shrunk down, when it was an important dynamic in the original movies, and I thought it took something away from the narrative.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You definitely make good points, Natacha, and I agree with you. I haven’t seen the Robocop remake yet so I can’t speak to that particular topic. I most definitely agree with you that the BSG reboot’s Starbuck was the superior of the two versions. I’m open to seeing what happens with this, but I just wanted to point out other ways this could have been handled.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Good to hear from you, as always. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can see your point, but I’m coming at this from the opposite angle… Comics characters are constantly being changed and then being reverted to the status quo. That’s CONSTANT. So, why is it a bad thing for one of the changes to be “into a woman and back again?” It helps combat the general erasure of women from prominent roles, and it puts a woman in a series that people will want to read just to see what happens and to not have missed anything. That’s different from something like Ms. Marvel, where nobody really misses out on the main stuff if they don’t read the comic, and “what happens next?” isn’t a factor in picking up the first issue.
    I might feel differently if changes-and-back weren’t such a mainstay of the comics world, and frankly they drive me nuts in general, but that’s what we have. Very much agree with your suggestion of developing existing female heroes, though, as that would also help us break out of the “same old characters/stories over and over again” rut.
    (Re: boob armor, it’s not a metal bikini passing itself off as armor, and it actually looks like it might provide some protection and support… Basically it just doesn’t look like fanservice. Others may have different opinions. 🙂 )

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, don’t get me wrong. I’m not bothered enough by this to be foaming at the mouth and nerd raging at people. 😉 And constant temporary changes are the name of the game, especially at Marvel. But I just wanted to draw readers’ attention to some other facets of Thor’s world that could benefit from growth as well. All three of the other characters I mentioned as possibilities for expansion (Sif, Dani Moonster, and Valkyrie) have all recently headlined their own title or been a big mover in a team book. Trying to splash the success of Aaron’s run on Thor: God of Thunder into establishing and developing a new (and probably awesome) female character might just not work from a marketing standpoint. I’m not saying it’s right, but business rarely seems to be these days, and every comic book company, no matter how indie, is still a business. We’ll see what market demands produce–they alone decide what titles live and die. I’m hopeful we can get a successful new direction for the title out of this; I am in no way opposed to that.

      And having all of this change at once at Marvel might backfire on them as well. I saw today the announcement that Falcon is taking over as Cap, and I honestly have less of an issue with that. Cap hands off the mantle at least once a decade anyway, apparently Steve Rogers can’t serve in the role right now (I’m behind on the title), and Falcon has been part of the cast for decades. I think age does make legitimacy at times in things like this. Additionally, the idea that male Thor loses Mjolnir because he is disgraced seems problematic to me. Again, it may be handled well. I’m not sure; I’m woefully behind on a lot of titles I’d like to follow. I want to reiterate I’m personally fine with the Thor mantle being handed off as well, being as for most of his run the Thor godhead was almost a spiritual parasite inside Donald Blake, anyway. It could be interesting to return to a similar angle on the character.

      But to clarify why I think it’s problematic from a marketing standpoint: Marvel (or more likely Disney) is counting on the movie universe selling more comics. If you make too many of the comics characters fundamentally different from the versions portrayed onscreen, you may not get the same turn-out. Which is, again, why I’m sure this won’t last past the next Avengers film, anyway.

      Thanks for the read and comment, Hannah. 🙂 Always good to have your voice added to these conversations.

      Like

      1. Oh, I didn’t think you were foaming. 🙂 And you’re right that it’s a slightly odd marketing choice since it deviates from the movies substantially. (Regarding Falcon, it’s been plausibly suggested that Falcon will be taking over as Cap in the movies soon, because Chris Evans’ contract will be up and he’s said he wants to go back to directing or something. Bucky is also a really plausible choice to take over, though.)

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Nope. You’re not foaming. I don’t really know enough about comics to comment on the larger issue. I am interested to see if how your prediction about the longevity of it comes out, though.

        On the boob armor: That’s something I judge on a case-by-case basis. I’m giving this one a pass, because it isn’t ungodly, it IS in a comic, and it looks like it might be worth a point or two of armor class.

        In live action, though, that kind of form-fitting doesn’t fly for me. I want women in armor, as far as their silhouettes go, to look like Brienne in Game of Thrones or Milla Jovovich in The Messenger, or Mary of Guise in Elizabeth, which I will give you a link for so you can see what I mean.

        Those examples are based entirely upon my understanding of how breastplates function and my preference for realism in the details.

        I agree with the other people who are saying that the Thor armor in the first image is not shameless fanservice, though. In comics and video games, form-fitting armor is a trope. I’m very happy it’s this instead of a chainmail bikini.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I think that that could definitely work. I still think Bucky makes a good choice because he’s similarly enhanced. Falcon is awesome and capable but also a lot more mortal than a super soldier. 😉

    Also, how have I not invited you to contribute to the Thoughts yet if you’d like? Consider yourself invited if you ever have the chance and desire to lay down a post of unbridled nerdery. 😉

    Like

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