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There’s been a lot of female character talk lately, even with my own recommendations last week. Oddly enough, I’m here today to argue against an upcoming female-centric comic.
In October, Thor will take a page from his brother’s book and become a woman. Well… that’s not exactly true. Thor — the one we know — will be deemed unworthy of his powers and a woman shall take his hammer and become, for all intents and purposes, Thor.
I’ll expand on it below, but to curb the amount of people who’ll skim and jump to the comments let me say: I’m not against the fact a woman will take on the mantle of Thor. I’m against this change’s execution.
It was recently announced that Sam Wilson, a.k.a Falcon, will be taking over the mantle of Captain America. Putting aside the fact that this is just another change to boost some sales, I’m pretty okay with it. But why am I cool with this and not a lady taking over for Thor? IS IT BECAUSE SHE’S A WOMAN?! Not at all. Let me explain.
Sam Wilson has been around as the Falcon for like, what, 40 years now? He’s an established character in his own right. Not only that, but he’s one of Cap’s closest friends. It’s logical that he’d take the mantel as Captain America. It’s organic. I get it.
However, unless I’m mistaken or they’re waiting to reveal it later, this is a new female character taking over as Thor. A brand new character. Surely they’ll take some time to set her up — although I suppose she could just come out of nowhere I guess — but the change is happening in October. That’s not a lot of time to establish a good character we care about, especially taking into account that the comic comes out at most a couple times a month.
That’s my biggest problem. It seems like such a forced, artificial change. If Sif was taking over, or Valkyrie, I don’t think I’d really mind it. Stuff like that happens all the time, and it makes sense. This seems too much like a quick decision that’s forced on the story instead of a logical conclusion arising from the story itself.
But why make that decision in the first place? Well…
So I have no idea exactly why the decision was made to have a female Thor. Maybe it was something they wanted to do for a while. Maybe female Loki was such a smash hit they wanted to repeat it with Thor. I want to give Marvel enough credit that it’s not just a gimmick to boost sales and catch new readers. Really. I’ll leave room enough to say that it could be a legitimate choice.
However, I have a sinking feeling, a sour taste, a burning doubt that this is a gimmick. Why?
First, Marvel doesn’t really have a big female character they can really show off. They don’t have a Wonder Woman, a lady that can go toe to toe with the dudes. Black Widow is probably the most well known female character in the mainstream, but she seems laughably underpowered next to her peers. With new readers, a lot of whom are female, Marvel will be looking for a female character that they can put up front in their “main lineup” and still seem capable. I think they decided on Thor.
Secondly, the news of this change was announced on The View. The View? Yes, The View. Now I know what you’re saying: “the news of Falcon taking over as Cap was announced on The Colbert Report, does that make that change a gimmick too?” Well we already established that’s a change to boost sales (there’s a couple every year) so yes, in a small way it is.
However I get The Colbert Report announcement, it makes sense. Not to imply that comic book readers don’t regularly watch The View, of course some do, but I think if you took the amount of people watching The Colbert Report who regularly purchase comic books versus the number of people watching The View who regularly purchase comic books… you’d find much more watch The Colbert Report.
The announcement on The View had to have a solid reason behind it. I think that reason was to get people who wouldn’t normally hear about comic news to learn of the new character, but even more than that I think it was to spread the word amongst the so-called “female demographic”. Moms start buying Thor comics for their young daughters because they know there’s a powerful female protagonist in it. An attitude spreads around saying that comic books can be positive media for girls everywhere. While a good sentiment, I think it’s not one to stem from a hasty, forced, market-driven choice. I think it should come about because it’s true.
But maybe I’m just misinterpreting it. If you can think of a better reason Marvel would announce a comic book event — not pertaining to the super popular movies, mind you, just the comics — on THE VIEW instead of almost anywhere else then let me know in the comments below.
Unless this character is really popular, which could happen, male Thor is probably coming back. This character will then get her own persona and maybe her own comic. Which kinda adds to my aversion to this.
Why can’t we have new characters? I mean new characters, not like the newly acquired Angela or “THOR, BUT NOW A LADY!”. I get that the ratio to good male characters to good female characters is off, but why does that mean we have just rehash old favorites instead of making new ones?
I get it, Marvel can’t just debut tons of new titles with untested characters in them. However, that’s not really how a lot of the mainstays started, is it? Create a new, powerful female character in the Thor comic and build her up until she can hold a comic on her own. That’s how some the most popular characters in Marvel including Black Widow, Wolverine, Hawkeye, Rogue, Ms. Marvel, and more first began.
All in all, I’m not against the fact that Thor’s a lady, just that it seems like an inorganic story development that was made for marketing purposes.
Regardless, it’ll be an interesting development. The character, and to a lesser degree his world, has always been characterized as incredibly masculine, and I admit a part of me is excited to see how they handle it. If any writer can pull it off with dignity, it’d be Jason Aaron.
It’s happening in Thor: God of Thunder, my favorite Marvel book out right now, so I’ll be reading it all with you guys this October.