So, just in case you missed the big announcement — Thor is now a woman. Marvel revealed that the original God of Thunder will lose the ability to wield Mjölnir, and a new female character will take up the mantle. Not as Lady Thor, or She-Thor, but Thor. For some reason, people appear to have a problem with this. I’m going to go through some of the complaints voiced by fans so far, and offer reasons why this is a positive step forward in terms of character and representation.
Why are they messing with a beloved character?
Sometimes I don’t like characters being radically changed, and sometimes I’m all for it. In recent years, and even months, we’ve seen different takes on Wally West, Dick Grayson and one of the most beloved characters in comics, Spider-Man. Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man was a critical and financial hit. I wasn’t a massive fan of it myself, but I admit that it certainly did offer a fresh take on a long-running character. But I am loving the idea of a woman as Thor. It really excites me.
Here’s the thing: Thor has been around for 52 years, and the original character from Norse mythology for hundreds more. And for him to survive for another 50 years, you need to mix him up, change the status quo. I’m not too knowledgable on Thor's comic history, but I’m aware that creative teams have ushered in a new direction, tone or concept. This is exactly that. Without change, characters would get stale! And sure, the original God of Thunder will return eventually, much like Peter Parker returned to the Spider-Man mantle, but this will let writers and artists stretch their legs, explore a new side of Thor and the world surrounding the character. Sometimes there are small changes, and this is an example of a major change.
Why didn’t they just create a new superheroine?
This one’s simple: because it wouldn’t sell. This is kind of the second part of the above question — why change a popular character? Why not just make a new one? Female superheroines are a positive, asserting a gender that is just as involved in the superhero community as men. They have evolved over the years from symbols of superhero hetrosexuality to dynamic, interesting characters in themselves. But that doesn’t necessarily equate to sales. Marvel's biggest female-lead titles, X-Men, Captain Marvel, Black Widow and Elektra for example, aren't the most massive sellers month after month, and while they endure, they're not cash cows for the publisher like Superior Spider-Man, for one.
Why would Marvel create a new superheorine, perhaps similar to Thor, and run the risk of a low-selling title when they could put a new spin on an established character? There’s no guarantee that this new hero would be popular enough for a series, let alone a long-running, successful series. The announcement has already generated interest in the concept, and I’d say there are a lot of people (women in particular) drawn to Thor because of it. I honestly think more people will read a Thor book in three months time than currently; I'm not reading Jason Aaron's Thor: God of Thunder, but I most definitely will be checking this out.
There already are female superheroes. Why not just enhance them?
Much like racial diversity, gender representation in comics has come a long way, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. This announcement is step in the right direction, and creates a prominent, strong female figure that will be one of the most talked about and promoted Marvel comics this year. Thor is one of the publisher's flagship characters. Having a woman slipping into the character establishes a sense of familiarity but also a breath of fresh air — that a woman can be THE GOD OF THUNDER. There’s absolutely no reason that she can’t.
What I’m trying to get at here is that the decision provides a welcome change. This doesn’t have to happen to every major superhero, but by shifting one, it’s already sending the right message. Not only does it refresh the character, and give them longevity, but it sends a positive message to the loyal female readers who are still fighting for proper representation. Hopefully this new Thor will take off and prove incredibly popular.
And if you have a problem with it, why don’t you wait until October, read it, and judge it for yourself?
As always, CBM, thanks for reading what is sure to one of many articles on the topic. Feel free to leave your thoughts on a female Thor in the comments below, and of course, hitting that red glove would be very much appreciated. Until next time!