Dear Marvel: Please Leave My Poor Thor Alone

About a week ago I came across a headline on Twitter that made me do a little bit of a double-take: “Thor is Now a Woman!” I didn’t click on it at the time because I was on a bus that was driving into a cell service dead zone, but I assumed that the claim was one of two things: either a new storyline where trickster god, Loki, casts a gender-bending spell on his hero half-brother…or a joke. Imagine my surprise when my husband texted me the following day to say, “So…Thor is a girl now,” and, “Also I think Cap might be going black.”

I’ll admit right now, at this point I still thought that it was some kind of joke. And then I actually took a moment to look it up online.

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Meet the "Avengers Now!"

Let me go ahead right now and say that it’s perfectly fine – awesome, even – that Marvel wants to be more diverse.  But I really, really don’t think this is the way to go about it. Taking existing, well-established, well-loved characters and changing their gender or skin color does not feel like a progressive move to me. By making these changes I do not feel that Marvel really gets the point behind equal opportunity and diversity. I feel like, instead of putting in the time and effort to make great female and multi-cultural characters that we grow to love, they’re taking the cheap and easy way out. I feel that instead of genuinely trying to convince me that woman and minority superheroes are awesome, they’re trying to force the idea on me by screwing with characters that I’m already invested in.

Let’s get one thing straight. I do not think that making these changes in any way diminishes the core of the character. A black Cap isn’t any less American, and a female Thor is not any less a kickass warrior. What I’m getting at is that it’s unnecessary, backward, and quite a little bit confounding. This move feels to me like an employee firing two perfectly qualified white guys and replacing them with an equally (no more, no less) qualified woman and black man, just to be able to say that their workplace is diversified. The woman and the black guy might be pretty happy with the arrangement, but it’s a hell of a crappy deal for the two white guys and their families.

I’m having a hard time expressing myself on this one because it’s such a baffling concept to me. But I guess what I’m really getting down to is that sure, more women superheroes would be awesome, and sure, more racial diversity in comics would be awesome, but I feel the need to point out that there is also nothing wrong with being a white, male superhero. Does anyone get what I’m saying?

Plus, Thor Odinsdaughter doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, I’m just sayin’.

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36 thoughts on “Dear Marvel: Please Leave My Poor Thor Alone

  1. I’m OK with both, to be honest. I think Sam taking on the role of Cap makes sense. I mean, Bucky was Captain America for a while, so it’s not like it’s ALWAYS been Steve. The new Thor makes less sense in terms of that whole story line, but works considering the inscription “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”

    I do understand what you’re saying overall, though, and I agree that just making more new diverse characters in general is the best. But if they were planning on changing up who these particular characters were anyway, I don’t see anything wrong with going with a black man and a woman instead two other white dudes.

    • Oh I definitely don’t think there’s anything wrong with it…I just feel like it’s more of a PR campaign than an actual desire to be more diverse.

      I will concede, however, on the Cap change because I didn’t realize at first that it’s actually Sam taking over. The articles I read before writing this didn’t share that tidbit and we’re basically just screaming, “Look! Cap is black! Holy crap!” 😛

      • Steve is SO well-loved that everyone’s going to be sad to see him go (though I’ve heard both he and Current-Thor will still be around), but Sam is also pretty well-loved, so I think once it happens, fans will like it. But yeah, the media can be obnoxious sometimes. They try to go for the shock value rather than actually explaining things. Makes this former journalist sad…

  2. One would think they could also stop that god damn pose they always try to get women into. The above is showing them trying to show their new diversity and they STILL have scarlet witch doing it. It’s an artist’s favorite pose for these kind of pictures and comic covers because they try to make it so you can see a woman’s butt and chest in the same angle. Doesn’t matter that to pull it off you would need the stretching super ability or double the vertebrae in your spine.

    I get that there is cheese cake in comics. I enjoy it, it would be stupid to say that I don’t. But I prefer it when it’s actually done smart and not at the expense of the character. If you want to know an example of that, check out the first 6 issues of power girl’s old series. It was done very well and not to the point of making the character into a joke.

    • I’ve actually been meaning to read some Power Girl stuff, now that you mention it.

      But yeah, I hate that pose too. I get what they’re trying to accomplish, but I’ve actually always found that pose super creepy because you can just TELL that it’s not physically possible. And hey, butts and boobs are great, but really, truly, it’s okay to just focus on one at a time. 😛

  3. It’s worth noting that both Thor Odinson and Steve Rogers will still be around. Falcon is replacing Captain America because Steve Rogers is now too old for the role, but Rogers is still going to be advising him and the Avengers. Meanwhile, Thor will be running around shirtless with a torn cape, wielding a big axe. So he’ll actually be even manlier than before.

    The other thing is that Marvel is also pushing original female characters. They’ve been putting quite a bit of support behind Captain Marvel, they’ve given Ms. Marvel tons of support, they’ve just launched a Storm solo. Black Widow, Elektra and She-Hulk all have ongoings, and Marvel just announced Spider-Woman and Angela at SDCC.

    And in the cases of both Cap and Thor, it was actually writers wanting to do a fairly common story, but putting a twist on it. Captain America’s been replaced plenty of times, but Rick Remender felt Falcon deserved the role. Thor has likewise been replaced a couple times, but Aaron figured there could be something really interesting done by making his new replacement a woman.

    • ^ This. I’m actually happy with the whole roll out. I think a female Thor is great. It’s not the actual character that is ‘becoming’ female, anyway… it’s just the powers being transferred to a woman. And the change with Captain America seems pretty legit, too, though admittedly I don’t follow the comics.

    • I concede defeat in the face of someone who obviously knows these characters way better than me. 🙂

      In my defense, as I mentioned in an above comment, all the articles I read before writing this post were basically screaming, “Look! Cap is black and Thor is a woman! Isn’t that CRAZY?!” without actually explaining any of the actual storyline info. I didn’t find out until the comments started rolling in that Sam is actually the new Cap (which totally makes sense). Although I have to say that I still don’t really get the Thor thing because “Thor” is the dude’s name, not his superhero identity, so how can a woman BECOME Thor? Wouldn’t she just be HER, but with the power of Mjolnir?

      • Hi Tracey, I thought exactly the same thing! Nice to find someone else who thinks it’s weird that her name is Thor. Having a woman take on the power of Mjolnir is great, but why can’t she keep her own name? I have a problem with that, it makes no sense to me. I’m sure it’s about Thor having name recognition, but still…I’ve been told that in the past others have taken on the role of Thor, but they still kept their own names. I have no idea if this is true (I am largely ignorant of comic-book lore) but this is a lot better than changing someone’s name. Isn’t that kind of saying that the woman’s true identity is not important? And what does that say about gender equality? Anyway, just my two cents. Thanks for an interesting post. 🙂

        • Thanks for reading, Sue! That’s pretty much my major complaint about the Thor change. I just don’t get this whole “SHE IS THOR” thing that they keep saying. Like, when you look at the Captain America side of things, Sam Wilson is not magically becoming Steve Rogers…he’s still Sam Wilson, and is taking over the Captain America persona. But “Thor” isn’t the guy’s persona…it’s actually who he IS, so it makes no sense to say that this girl IS Thor. Semantics, I guess, but still…it bugs me. lol

    • Enough what? Enough female characters? Enough minority characters? How do you gauge how many are “enough”? To their credit, Marvel’s got a lot of female solo titles right now, with more on the way – they’re about to have more female solo titles than they’ve ever had at any one time. They’ve also got a handful of minority-led titles – again, maybe as many as they’ve ever had at a time. And Marvel deserves some praise for this. But is it really “enough”? I suppose it depends on what it is we’re supposed to be looking for. If it’s just a matter of hard numbers, then maybe it is enough. But if we’re looking at real, long-term support for female and minority characters? Well, then “enough” doesn’t enter into it. It’s never “enough,” because there’s no actual end point for that. It’s an ongoing process.

      One thing I will say, though, is that as great as it is that Marvel’s got so many female and minority titles, the next step is more female and minority writers. They currently have two ongoing titles written by women, and two more by people of colour. Every other ongoing title they have is written by a white man. White men also make up the majority of artists doing ongoing work.

      They also need for female and minority characters in the movies, and specifically in leading roles. Let’s have Rhodey as the main character of the next Iron Man movie. Let’s have movies for Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Black Widow, Falcon.

      • I meant enough white male heroes. As the end of this post, I believe her grievance went something like “there’s nothing wrong with being a white male hero,” to which I replied, “no, there’s nothing wrong with it, but there are enough, don’t you think?”

      • I’m with you on the writers and artists thing, but of course that’s a little more difficult. I’m confident that Marvel (and other comic companies) are all for bringing women into their midst, but it’s more of an overall societal stigma. Women don’t go I for that thing as much because it’s still considered weird for women to strive for those kinds of jobs. This is more a situation in which we have to, as a society, encourage girls to go for what they truly want instead of settling on something else to please other people.

    • Oh there are definitely ENOUGH white male superheroes, but that doesn’t mean that we have to get RID of them to make room for women and minorities. As per my original analogy, that’s like firing perfectly competent employees because, “you know what? There’s too many white men in this company.”

      • That analogy doesn’t seem so bad to me. I’m all for the change, whatever the circumstances are. Naysaying it, for whatever your reasons are, lies in personal opinion, obviously, so here’s mine:

        Fire white dudes. Hire the minorities.

        • Well I’m clearly not going to change your mind, and you’re entitled to your opinion, but I’d just like to make one final point: equality is about EQUALITY, not about taking down one group so that you can raise the other up.

          • Right, but equality can’t be achieved when people are crying “leave the poor white dudes alone.” If there’s only so many positions open at this hypothetical company that are all filled by the majority, do you create new positions to fill with minorities? No. You put minorities where they’re qualified to be.

            Because you know what? That white guy you fire isn’t gonna have issues getting another job, while that minority you just hired has been trying to get a job for a year.

            I’m all for equality. But, no, you’re not gonna change my mind about the fact that white men are born with worlds more privilege than not.

            I’m not being snide or mean, I’m just hopin’ you’ll take a minute to see the other sides.

            Do you REALLY think you’d feel this post was necessary if you weren’t white yourself? Because, in terms of minorities, white women are there, yes, but they’re at the top and least affected by societal patriarchy. Not that they’re not. That’s not what I’m sayin’. Just not as much.

            That’s my prerogative. Take from it what you will. So often, people see dissension and automatically assume I must be against YOU and YOUR BELIEFS, but I only aim to open people’s eyes to the real issues here and it’s our thinking.

            Well. :] That’s all I really have to say about this honestly.

            • I’m not really trying to disagree with you, I just feel like there’s been a movement lately to say, “Fuck the white dude,” in the name of “equality”, and I don’t think that’s the right way to go about things, myself. In my hypothetical company, the white guy who is being fired could be ten times more qualified than the person who gets hired in his place, and I don’t think that’s right. You’re probably right, he probably could get another job pretty easily, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t unfairly terminated. It’s still discrimination even if it’s against a member of the majority.

              And yeah, you may be right…maybe I don’t see things as clearly since I’m white myself. But I do know a little something about discrimination since I’m a petite, young female in a physically demanding, male dominated industry, and I’ve had that held against me more than once. But you know what? Just because a few guys have been complete assholes to me doesn’t mean that I automatically paint all my male coworkers with the same brush.

              I just hate seeing one demographic called down to the lowest in the name of supporting another, because that’s no less prejudiced than what we have come to accept as prejudice. It just feels like falsely justified hate to me, and we’re never going to get anywhere as a society if we keep finding reasons to justify our hate.

            • Oh, and I meant to say thanks for commenting, by the way. I may not agree with you, but I appreciate that you’ve been expressing your opinions politely and in a conversational manner. You don’t get that too often on the Internet. lol

              • I appreciate you being cordial even though we don’t agree. I have to clear this up, though: I’m not about hate. I don’t hate white people or men it whatever else. And throwing that into the conversation we were having was uncalled for, I’ll say that much. I know you may not have been referring to me, personally, when you said that, but the fact remains that, if someone says “down with whitey,” others think that means they hate white people.

                That’s often not the case, and it sure isn’t with me.

                And in your company? Both candidates for the position are equally qualified remember? That’s the basis we were hiring on.

                No one’s brushing all of anyone with the same brush. We’re just all trying to reach the same rung on the same ladder, here.

                And if that means giving well-known characters alternate genders or ethnicities, then we should embrace the rise in acceptance. Not lenient the loss of another white male superhero.

                I think that sums up what I’ve been meaning to say this whole time better than anything else I may have said haha.

                • Oh believe me, the appreciation is all mine. It’s actually quite refreshing to have a conversation with someone of differing opinions that doesn’t end in my entire life being called into question as though I’m some kind of evil monster. lol People on the Internet are a strange breed sometimes.

                  That said, I do apologize for my use of the word “hate”, and I definitely didn’t mean to imply that you hate white people (or anyone, really). I got a little passionate there for a moment because I’ve known white guys who have had the crap kicked out of them (both physically and emotionally) because of the types of people who assume that all white guys are privileged brats who deserve to be taken down.

                  All THAT said, I do get where you’re coming from, and it would be nice if we lived in a world where people don’t have to (or feel like they have to) get worked up about things like this (regardless of which side of the argument they’re on).

                  Also, as a few other commenters have proven, I clearly need to look further than the “shock!” articles before I start whining about things. 😉 I’m gonna go ahead right now and admit that now that I know the whole story, Sam seems like an excellent choice to be the new Captain America. I’m sticking to my attitude about female Thor though, but that’s just because I love male Thor so much. lol

  4. I see it as a reflection of modern society. I know someone who is a woman who was born genetically male, so perhaps it is just the sign of the times. Or a publicity stunt, who am I to decide? I don’t judge.

    However I do agree that already well known and established fictional characters should not be messed with. It just adds too much confusion and even some awkward discussions with our young people who might be reading the comic books and wondering why Thor is now female.

    Just saying.

    • Since reading some comments by people who are more knowledgeable than me about comics, I’ve adjusted my stance on the Captain America issue…turns out it’s not just some random black dude (as the articles I read would have me believe), but it’s actually the Falcon being given Cap’s powers, which is logical and totally acceptable. I’m still a little annoyed by the Thor one though, because Thor is the DUDE, not the superhero…you can’t just make someone be someone else. That’s like if someone told you tomorrow, “Tom, you’re going to be Tracey Tobin now. She’s just going to wander off and be less important and you’re going to become her.” Maybe I’m missing something still, but that just doesn’t make sense to me. 😛

      • If I could be someone else for a day, I would go for it. Even it it were my job to play as a standin for Tracey (you’re very cool)!

        Speaking of which, I’m reminded of a mental disorder known a Capgras Delusion, in which the afflicted believes that everyone around them has been replaced with exact duplicates of the original people.

        As a kid, I read encyclopedias for fun. I’m not sure how all of this fits in, but it’s worth noting. 🙂

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