Commentary: Marvel’s New Thor

Click this great art by Esad Ribic to see Marvel's announcement of a new Thor. The Mighty Thor is the property of Marvel Comics, not me. Duh!
Click this great art by Esad Ribic to see Marvel’s announcement of a new Thor. The Mighty Thor is the property of Marvel Comics, not me. Duh!

I’m not quite sure how Marvel plans to make this work story wise, but I like the character design and art in spite of the unrealistic armor. This is far from the first time there has been a gender-flipped Thor or a lady wielding Mjölnir, but before now it was intended as a gimmick for one-shot stories or alternate universes and not for the main series and the primary Marvel Universe. I wish that they wouldn’t call her “Thor” however. Maybe they are going to treat the name as a title or something? “The” Thor, perhaps? My gripe is strictly that Thor is a guy’s name and it looks funny. If I had a daughter and called her “Jason” I’m sure I would get looks and she would resent me even after many years of therapy as an adult.

I really don’t have a problem with Thor’s sister, or daughter or whatever taking up Mjölnir to fight the good fight. Let her be just as powerful and awe-inspiring as the mighty Thor. But, by Volstagg’s immeasurable girth, let her be her own character and not a knock-off of Thor! Call her “Astrid of Asgard” or something!

As any old comic book geek like myself will tell you, whenever there is major change to a character, it almost never sticks. Death of Superman, anyone? How about a broken Bat-Back? Even rebooting the entire universe usually just restores the old status quo. We’ll see how long this will last and doubtlessly many fans will proclaim this the dawn of a Dork Age of Thor. But for good or bad, I suspect Marvel will sell quite a few books from the publicity, and isn’t that really the point anyway?

Personally, I think the potential could be there for some cool new stories if a change like this is paired with good writing. However, the fundamental problem here is that Marvel is overtly doing this to bring in readers that are women and girls. I love the intention and applaud them for trying but, seriously guys, I think there are better ways for you to do that: Having a female copy-counterpart of an existing male hero is such a tired old pony that it goes back to the Golden Age of Superheroes. It has hardly ever made for memorable women characters. How strong and independent can any character be if essentially they are a slightly altered version of another character in the same story universe?

No. What you need to do is treat women and girls as people. Write them as people and as heroes with the own quirks and depth. Don’t belittle them by feeling that to make them work as a superhero that you need to dress them up as a feminized version of an existing male counterpart. And, if I have your attention Marvel (I doubt that I do…), why don’t you try to make her a NEW character and not a retool or reboot of a character you have had for 40ish years already? If you want to speak to a new generation of women, try mixing in something genuinely new along with the beloved old.

If you need some help on this Marvel, I’m available and have a dozen character-pitches for you!


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