The New Replacement God of Thunder.
As most of you reading this blog know, the news broke that Thor was being replaced by a female character having no longer been found worthy of wielding Mjolnir. Instead, a female character will take over from Thor and, for some reason, actually be called Thor instead of Thor (even though Thor is Thor’s name rather than an identity) Confused much? That’s what Marvel’s latest PR stunt seems to be causing, mass confusion. So I’ll just share some of my thoughts and opinions on this change via several areas of consideration.
1. Why the gender change?
I fail to see why Marvel are making this change in the first place. It’s just change for the sake of change and that is never a good way of introducing something new. To keep things in perspective, Aaron’s other changes in the Thor run have WORKED. Introducing the Past, Present and Future Thor has worked wonders in making for a compelling character overlook at who Thor is and where he’s going. Gorr and The Necro Sword have been awesome additions to Thor’s rogues gallery as has Dario Agger. These are creative changes which have actually fit into Thor’s universe. The decision to make Thor a woman has come straight out of nowhere and seems to fly flat in the face of Aaron’s plans such as introducing new love interest Roz Solomon, making Thor’s world more cosmic and teasing a 9 Realms war. What place does a female Thor have other than Marvel’s attempts to pander to the rising female demographic in the comic book audience?
I'm really gonna miss Aaron writing stories about actual versions of Thor you know...
2. Why make the New Thor a Woman?
When you look at this move critically, exchanging Thor's gender really doesn't make sense. In mythology and in the comics, Thor is iconically recognised as a long blonde haired guy with a hammer in the comics and movies. Not only that, Thor is his literal name. You can’t just pick up the hammer and be Thor. You only have his power, not his name. It isn’t an identity or a mantle like Captain America or Iron Man that can be passed along. Thor is the intrinsic identity of the God of Thunder and this replacement is just as obviously out of place as Eric Masterson was as Thor’s replacement. Not only do Marvel make the mistake to remove Steve Rogers from the position of Captain America just to put a temporary Falcon in place for a token's character sake, they now have the misguided notion to promote the female sex by replacing Thor's brilliantly written series by Jason Aaron with a female lead. So I guess Tony's brother Arno is going to be the new Iron Man because Marvel's reasons are sooo enlightened on these matters. And there’s one ultimate nail in the coffin for Marvel's misguided attempts at promoting gender diversity; that the new female Thor will still be defined by being a female version of Thor. Call me old fashioned if you will but I like Captain America as Steve Rogers, Tony Stark as Iron Man and Thor Odinson as Thor. These shoehorned replacements can never match the appeal or history that the originals have. You can't beat the originals as they say.
The real Marvel 'Trinity' so to speak. No exceptions or replacements can beat The original Source Material.
3. Why pull this PR stunt and try to appeal to gender diversity?
As I mentioned in my first paragraph, this is a blatant PR stunt on Marvel’s part designed to pander to feminist calls for women to have greater roles in comics. The only problem here is that most fans don't want different Thor's or Captain America's, we just want good stories with the same old heroes. Change things up a little, introduce some interesting plot points, bring in some solid characterisation and entertaining action, add in some extra elements and you have the recipe for the right kind of comic. That’s what Aaron was doing before and that’s what has made Thor: God of Thunder one of the best comics Marvel are currently putting out. But editorial interference seems to think that it’s a good idea to promote 'gender equality.' If I was directly addressing the Thor creative team and editors who seem to want gender equality in the Thor line, this is what I'd say. Make a damn effort to promote Thor's female support cast; Jane Foster, Roz Solomon, Lady Sif, Valkyrie, hell even Angela since you're bringing her in (and I have the feeling Angela is going to be the new Thor now.) Believe me when I say female characters need more promotion and treatment in comics but make them new characters or flesh out the old ones you have. Don't shoe horn a female character into a male hero's position as, at the end of the day, she's still defined by the male character, not her own legacy. I know Marvel are going for the “anyone can wield the power of Thor, even women” approach but this is ultimately detrimental to the female hero. Why? Because making a female version of a male hero demeans the male hero and leaves the superheroine being solely defined as a female replacement of the male hero.
At the end of the day, this new Thor will probably end up being defined by her contrast in sex to the male Thor. Not as her own original character separate from Thor.
4. Why make it a new or existing female character?
From the sounds of the press release, Marvel seem to be hinting that this is a Pre existing character, not a new one. And my best bets on who the new female Thor will be stick mainly at either Angela or Thor Girl. Angela is the angel from the Spawn comics created by Neil Gaiman who sold the rights to Marvel. She’s been introduced into the Marvel Universe in Age of Ultron, has interacted with The Guardians of The Galaxy and is now officially Thor’s retconned sister thanks to Original Sin. Although her hair is ginger, it’s entirely possible she could be dying her hair to look more like Thor. And she has the power and potential worthiness criteria to wield the hammer but I have my doubts as to whether it’s Angela. But it could be Thor Girl based on a teaser that this new character “was saved by Thor and made herself look like him.” Both points fit the description of Thor Girl, an alien called Tarene who was once associated with Thor back in the 90s. From what I’ve heard, she’s ascended to a higher plane of existence so her coming back just to be the new Thor seems highly unlikely. That leaves the problem that, if this is a new character, what’s the point of their existence?
Will Angela be the new Thor?
Will Thor Girl make a return to the Marvel Universe and take over from The Odinson?
Or will it be an entirely new character?
Which brings me to:
5. What’s the point of temporary change?
Unlike some people who are literally taking Marvel and Aaron’s statement that this is the new Thor period, I have my doubts that this will last longer than a year. It’s stereotypical, derivative, unoriginal and screams of a PR stunt to try and win over the female demographic of comic readers. But whilst this is temporary change easily reverted, that doesn’t make it any less of a bad idea. Not only is Thor at one of his most popular times with two solid movies (in terms of box office revenue and critical acclaim) he also has a critically praised comic series adored by the fans. Which makes it all the more confusing as to why Marvel are changing Thor for a new female character. The simple answer is shock value and generating a stir for the sake of it all over comic book fandom. That is not good enough for justifying a change in the first place. Change for the sake of change is not the right reason for doing it. This idea isn’t going to be fondly remembered among Jason Aaron’s excellent Thor series prior to this unfortunate announcement.
Does anyone know how long Eric Masterson was Thor? Because I'm pretty sure he wasn't a popular or well loved addition to the footnotes of Thor's comic book history.
Can we jump to conclusions about the quality of this series? No, a Twitter conversion with Mat Elfring showed that much for certain. The perspective about the quality of this series is, for now, up in the air. Can we justifiably go ape **** about it? Only to an extent. Reasonable criticism and utter disbelief at Marvel’s inane decision making and slapped on PR is at least warranted. Losing one’s mind over this is not permissible however. But for me, it is the straw that broke the camel’s back. So, after Thor: GOT 25, I’m dropping that series and ending any Marvel related purchases on my pull list. Call that extreme if you want but Thor was the only series at Marvel I was willing to buy consistently without delay. Not to mention the only series I was truly interested in. I’ve been perfectly civil in my reasoning and given logical critiques of why I don’t like where this series is going. And that’s what’s needed, not irrational fanboyism. There are fortunately many reasons why this is clearly a bad move from day one of press release and if expressed in the right way, you can demonstrate why this series is a bad idea.
Finally, I hope the feminists and pushers for women to have greater roles in comics don't jump down my throat by proclaiming this a hate speech. It's an impassioned plea to Marvel pointing out the errors of their ways and, whilst it is just one opinion, is probably going to be shared by loads of die hard Thor fans too. If people like this then...good for you I guess, it's your call. But I most certainly do not. And I support a greater diversity in female leads such as Captain Marvel, Ms Marvel, Wonder Woman etc in comics. I just don't see the plausibility or sensibility in this foolish temporary change for the sake of change that is being proclaimed here. Cast this as an angry rant if you must but at least it'll be a rant where I've made some critical and fair points of this ostentatious change. That will be reverted in a year as all other Marvel changes are. And it will be a pointless, empty change all the same.
But this is just my one single opinion. Do you think Marvel have flown the coop making the new Thor a woman? Or is this a much needed change that will freshen Marvel's line and promote women's role in comics? Feel free to discuss, agree, disagree and contrast below in the comments.