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Who gets the power when we’re rewriting myths?

Yesterday I posted a news story about the fact that Marvel Comics’ Thor: God of Thunder is now female. When I posted the story, I was elated at the idea that a woman had earned the power of the hammer that controls the very elements. This is a power that is based in both physical and mental strength. It is a power that has rested in a number of different beings over the course of its comic book existence (including a frog). The announcement has received quite a bit of backlash, which is to be expected when a male god is deemed unworthy and replaced by a more worthy female. And even some Romance readers have objected to the change.

After reading through the various objections and concerns, I’m still going to make a case for Thor: Goddess of Thunder, not as a feminist act, but as something we should welcome into the cultural norm as easily as we do the idea of a male Thor. I welcome disagreement and debate; I am simply in the mood to advocate for the widespread acceptance of a woman who holds the power of lightening and thunder in her hands, independent of her male predecessors and symbolic of power that can rest just as easily in the hands of a woman or a man.

Why not a woman?

While many have wondering why Thor should now be a woman, I want to know why Thor shouldn’t and hasn’t (for any significant time) been a woman? When new Thor’s creator, Jason Aaron is asked if he’s a feminist, he says: “I’m not one of those people that think feminist is a bad word. I don’t see why everyone shouldn’t be a feminist.”  Which is great, and all, but does Goddess Thor need to be considered a feminist act, and if so, what does that say about the way we conceptualize the kind of power Thor wields? That a frog can be perceived as worthy but a woman somehow ruins the concept? That Thor’s power is now bestowed on a woman has come as such a disruptive shock to so many people is indicative of how comfortable we are with certain conceptions of gender and power. The question has been raised – why not use another goddess in place of a female Thor? But any other goddess is not Thor, does not wield the power of Thor, and does not represent the powerful physicality of Thor.

It’s not enough, aka Marvel is simply exploiting its female fans.

In an article criticizing Marvel’s introduction of a black Captain America and the female Thor, Wired’s Graeme McMillan argues that

Not only are they, by definition, replacements—forced to live up to legacies established by white male characters both in the fictional worlds they inhabit and the minds of the fans reading the comics—but they both got the job because of the failings of their white predecessors rather than on their own merits. . . . From the press release about the new Thor: “No longer is the classic Thunder God able to hold the mighty hammer, Mjölnir, and a brand new female hero will emerge worthy of the name THOR.”

While I, too, am concerned about the longevity issues with these new superheroes, I have to take issue with the idea that one character becoming unworthy means that the character who is deemed worthy is somehow lesser than. Thor is, by definition, a merit-based position, because only someone deemed worthy of the hammer’s power can wield it. And as for the character’s longevity, Aaron, who insists that this turn was his idea and was planned from the beginning of his work on the series, has long-term plans for this Thor, precisely because female have been unfairly excluded from the definition of worthy:

When you look back over the history of Thor comics, a lot of different people have picked up the hammer at one point or another and hardly any of them female. The only women to wield the hammer are in brief moments here and there, or “What If?” stories, or future stories and stuff like that. So we’ve never seen a big story about a woman picking up the hammer and if you look at the inscription on the hammer it even says, “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.” I’m going to flip that on its ear and for the first time see what it’s like to have a brand new version of Thor who is female; the Goddess of Thunder.

Would I prefer it if a female author gave that power to Thor: Goddess of Thunder? Hell, yes. Although for me it helps that Aaron also supervises the designation of the male Thor as unworthy of the same power. This isn’t Eve, made from Adam’s Rib, but the empowerment of a woman in defiance of the expectation that the power would transfer to another “he.” Beyond that, I think it’s more about the life Goddess Thor takes on for those who engage with her through her story, and about other stories she will hopefully inspire. Cosplayers are already trying the new Thor on for size.

Marvel is clearly pandering to female readers, hoping to get more of their money.

So. What. How many immensely popular and well-loved books do you think have been written because the author hoped to make some money off of them? Marvel can be pandering; it can be exploiting so-called “political correctness” in order to appear as if it cares about diversity.  All of that may be true. But none of it changes the fact that we now have a female Thor, and she has a substantial and lengthy storyline. Must there be an ever-after for her in order for her character to retain legitimacy? How many comic book characters evolve over time? Should women – who are a rapidly growing segment of the comics-buying readership – be inspired to pick up these comics, that’s a perfect convergence of culturally progressive superheroes and commercial profit. If Marvel makes money doing the right thing, then I’m okay with that, especially if it inspires more experimentation:

The importance of female readership — particularly its economic importance — is something Esther has experienced as a store manager. Fantom has a list of weekly subscribers and a quarter of them are women. And it’s the comics with female characters that are making money. According to their most recent data, Fantom’s bestselling superhero comic is Ms. Marvel, starring a teenage Pakistani-American from New Jersey, the first Muslim character to get her own series. The best-selling title overall is Saga, another series in which many of the main characters are female. And both Ms. Marvel and Saga have female creators — G. Willow Wilson writes Kamala Khan’s adventures as Ms. Marvel, and Fiona Stapes is behind Saga’s gorgeous art.

I love this trend, and what I think Thor adds is the idea of a woman who is worthy not because she is a woman, but simply as a woman.

But Thor is still a white woman from Norse (aka Scandinavian) mythology.

Yes, she is. She’s in an elite class. And yes, it would be even cooler if she were a goddess of color. Or if women, in general, were all empowered at the same time, and by the same social forces. Thor: Goddess of Thunder is aspirational in the same way that the growing population of female entrepreneurs is aspirational. She represents a level of power that the majority of women do not have access to, and will not likely have access to in their lifetimes. While it’s true that women are having certain aspects of their personal autonomy curbed (largely by men and by patriarchal thinking), it is also true that women are making progress in other arenas.

It’s no longer true that highly educated women are more likely to divorce, for example. Women with money to invest are doing so differently than their male counterparts, and they’re forcing change on the historically male-dominated investment-banking paradigm. The changes are small, and they’re much closer to the economic ceiling than the floor, but if anything, doesn’t that speak to the idea that we need more female superheroes? That we need to normalize the idea that women can and should be deemed worthy of controlling the elements and wielding the Mjölnir? Not that I’m suggesting for one second that Thor: Goddess of Thunder, will have any effect on the real lives of women. Simply that our ability to conceptualize and accept that such power can and should be in the purview of women — and not even stand out as newsworthy — is an independently worthy idea, and one that stands in opposition to patriarchal logic.

Et tu, Romance readers?

Romance is a genre that is built on other narratives – fairy tales like Beauty and the Beast, mythological characters like Helen of Troy, previous stories like Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and The Sheikh. How can the readers of a genre that is constantly reimagining and reinterpreting other stories not appreciate the new Thor? Are there hidden rules within the genre around what stories can be reinterpreted and how? Is there something about having a heroine step into a hero’s place that violates a Romance genre code?

Goddess Thor does not eradicate any of the Thor’s who have come before her, because they all live, simultaneously and eternally, in these other texts. Goddess Thor is simply another version of the divine being that holds the same power, and that she is worthy of that power is something I think Romance readers, especially, should celebrate.

isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!

26 Comments

  1. wikkidsexycool
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 07:11:50

    Graeme McMillan’s argument is one I’ve seen similarly voiced by others. Announcements like Marvel’s remind me of the old black and white commercials where a new appliance would be trotted out for housewives with the announcer stating, “A washing machine with the little woman of the house in mind!” Cue the chuckles from the bread winning husband who’d think this would stop all his woman’s nagging.

    I’m getting the same sinking feeling with these publicity stunts by not just Marvel but others who either add a gay sidekick (Archie Comics) or temporarily take a male character and make them female or of color). While I’m ranting, if it’s about inclusion, then why stop at color or sex? where are the Asian superheroes Marvel? While I can clap for a black Captain America, even if he’s just a temp, Asian representation, not just in superhero land and publishing is just plan woeful.

    When I used to work as a temp, I hated it because I longed for some stability, ya know, like getting a paycheck and benefits on a regular basis.

    To answer the question of who gets the power when rewriting myths? Much like all Cinderella’s swag turned back into a pumpkin and mice when the clock struck twelve, my main beef is with the temp nature of it all. Sure, Marvel gets the press and tongues wagging, but at a time of their choosing, black Captain America and Lady Thor will resume playing second fiddle, or the “original” roles that Marvel created for them. But they could have just as easily created a mighty female of Asgard or a black counterpart to Captain America much earlier.

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  2. Meljean
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 07:42:26

    Oh, I’m a huge fan of this move. It’s true that, eventually, Thor will return and this woman will be shuttled off to another ole, but Marvel has been doing a good job of trying to keep its female superheroes at the forefront. Storm is finally getting her own title. Ms. Marvel is kicking ass (in every way). Carol Danvers took on the title of Captain Marvel (in much the same way as goddess Thor will be a female in a position that has long been filled by a man.)

    So there’s every possibility that after goddess Thor lets go of the hammer, she’ll end up starring in another book or Marvel will attempt to keep this female character visible in a group title. Is it a gimmicky way to do it? Absolutely. But there’s also a much better chance that the character will have longevity by taking this route. I think it would have been awesome to see the Adventures of Freya. But it’s also incredibly difficult in the comics world for a new character to ever gain traction — and to gain traction in a brand-new cape? Even Freya would probably have to wear Thor’s for a while first, or fade into obscurity after six issues :-/

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  3. Diana
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 09:05:04

    @Meljean: I totally agree with you, re: that female Thor might get her own spin-off series and that it’s a much better launching pad than just starting out unknown. I think yesterday, in the comments about the female Thor, I had bemoaned the lack of originality — but you’re 100% right that it’s crazy hard to just cold launch a completely new character.

    Thinking about it more, I’m actually really, really excited about female Thor! I’m disappointed that a lot of people seem down about it; I think it’s a great step forward for the super-heroines of Marvel, who are already doing pretty darn awesome, story-wise and in sales.

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  4. Meljean
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 09:24:29

    @Diana: I’m looking forward to it, too. I’m exactly the sucker they’re looking for — I like Thor in a general way, but I don’t really read the comic. I will pick up at least the first issues, however, partly out of curiosity and partly because WHOO FEMALE THOR! I’ve been wishing for a female Thor since Wonder Woman picked up his hammer in a DC/Marvel crossover years ago. I think my daughter would enjoy it, too.

    If the writing and story are good, I’ll probably stick around after boy-Thor returns — and if I like the character, I’ll probably follow her wherever she goes.

    So it’s a gimmick, absolutely. But all the rest depends on execution.

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  5. wikkidsexycool
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 11:29:16

    A very brief history on both DC and Marvel’s attempts to diversify. Thankfully, the quirks in these characters (as well as some of the characters themselves) were only temporary:

    http://www.cracked.com/article_20202_6-hilariously-failed-attempts-at-making-comics-more-diverse.html

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  6. Evangeline Holland
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 12:06:48

    Thor’s power sounds similar to Storm (from X-Men)–who has always been black and female. So, idk, I’m still more interested in boosting the profile of existing superheroines than the easy hoopla of turning a male character into a female character. Especially when the superheroines (and superheroes) of color remain marginalized. It just rubs me wrong that female characters and POC characters only get some shine when they step into the shoes of a white male character.

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  7. Darlynne
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 12:13:13

    I’m thrilled with the whole idea, wherever it goes, however long it lasts. I’ll take a beginning rather than nothing. As a huge fan of both G. Willow Wilson’s work and Saga, I’m buying books/graphic novels like this precisely because of the characters and writers. “If she be worthy” works for me.

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  8. LauraB
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 12:15:11

    Okay… This isn’t following the more serious trajectory of this thread, but I have to put it out there: Does this mean that Thor and Loki might actually have a chance at a romance? I know there’s the whole raised as siblings thing (ick), but the chemistry between these two has always allowed (in my mind) room for this possibility.

    Now, I’m off to tell my 13-year old the news — after I locate my earplugs to protect from the squees.

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  9. Robin/Janet
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 12:43:34

    In case it’s not clear in my post, I just want to point out that Thor isn’t actually changing into a woman – it’s the power of Thor that is transferring. The “unworthy” Thor will continue to exist. While many find the impermanence of this is scenario unsatisfactory, to me it’s one of the things that’s most appealing, because the power does not become essentialized by inhering to any particular character, but can be held by different individuals. I think that’s why, for me, it’s more akin to ‘breaking the glass ceiling,’ as someone (Aaron?) described it.

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  10. Charming Euphemism
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 14:06:13

    @wikkidsexycool:

    I guess I am not really getting what your specific complaint is. That Marvel is doing this at all? That it might be temporary? That they didn’t do it with an Asian or gay character first (or instead, or at the same time)?

    I am a little worried that if every move forward is met with an attitude of “you are trying to placate me and I am not impressed,” TPTB will conclude that it isn’t worth trying to improve (rather than concluding that they should do something different without knowing what that even is).

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  11. Farad
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 15:42:47

    I really like the idea, too, and I agree with most of what @Meljean says (and nicely said). I think one of the things we have to bear in mind is that the market is going to influence this; while it’s awesome – fantastically so – that 25% of the comic-reading/buying market these days is female *myself included* that’s still not the majority. What we are seeing is not only a growth in the number of awesome female-centric books, but also minority characters as the main characters. I free admit that my reason for reading “Stormwatch” is the gay pairing, Midnighter and Apollo. I love the fact that there is a gay X-Men character who got married, in the comic, to his partner. Slowly, the mainstream comics are adding elements, a demonstration that in a capitalistic market, where the buyers drive what sells, our general buying public is making progress towards some level of – well, tolerance? Enlightenment?

    On a seemingly dichotomous note, though, I would argue that romance readers opposed to this move may be doing so because we love Thor, the man as he is. While I am all in favor of his powers going to a woman, I do hope, as I do love Thor (though not as much as Loki, even before Tom Hiddleston came alone and made Loki even more awesome) that we see some of the plight of the former-god as well. (‘Cause there not much more romantic than a god who has lost his power – tons of hurt/comfort potential there!!).

    Some really interesting ideas in this post – thanks for sharing, RobinREader.

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  12. hapax
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 16:25:37

    Not to be all raining-on-the-yay-parade, but when I first saw the title of this post, I was kind of hoping for some thoughts about “who has the power TO re-write myths?”

    Mainly because I know that there are many people who still seriously and devoutly worship Thor, and Loki, and Freya; and Athene, and Hera, and Hermes; and Coyote, and Anansi, and … well, let’s not even look at the comic book treatment of Vishnu and Kali and Lao Tzu and the Buddha…

    The thing of it is, almost all of these comics are written by whites who haven’t the slightest connection to the cultures where these
    “myths” are still vital parts of the cultural fabric, let alone members of the faith.

    I was taken quite aback by a friend who told me how hurtful she found Disney’s HERCULES, that it treated the deities who were living presences to her as cartoon buffoons with no more weight than Mickey Mouse. (Less, in fact. Mess with the Mouse and see what wrath Disney can rain upon your head).

    There was considerable outrage at the way Disney, well, “Disney-fied” real Native American history in POCOHANTAS (not that it was any worse than what John Smith, the source of the story, did in his self-serving “memoirs”.) Where, my friend asked, was the respect for *her* culture and beliefs?

    I’m not saying that people should be stopped from telling any stories that move them, or from finding inspiration in the rich vein of world religions. I confess to an enormous fondness for retellings of world myths (and Bible stories, and fairy tales … it’s a spectrum, I personally think). But when YOUR version of the story — because of the cultural hegemony of American movies (notice how many of us are talking about Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston as if these actors WERE “Thor” and “Loki”?) — becomes the dominant version of the story, questions of power and appropriation deserve at least a passing consideration.

    (For the record, I’ve got no dog in this fight. I am a boring old white Protestant. Even when my God is presented in a strange, negative, even hostile way in comics [and yes, I do love PREACHER] it’s a small fringe voice amidst the overwhelmingly positive messaging in my society)

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  13. wikkidsexycool
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 16:40:07

    @Charming Euphemism:

    I think I made my complaint pretty clear. It’s the temporary nature. I also think Graeme McMillan’s argument lays it out much more succinctly than I could. And at the appointed time, the character’s will return to their roles, which are basically supporting characters. I also recall the hype from previous incarnations of both Marvel and DC’s prior comics, but to their credit, at least female writers are now on board to write female characters. Hopefully will help when dealing with stereotypes regarding gender.

    Marvel has known for quite a while that some readers have been vocal about more diverse heroes, and also that the character be afforded the same consideration/promotional push/investment as their non-minority counterparts. I recall an article (I think it was on Racebending.com, but I’d have to search it out) where there was a chart on the length of time a non-minority superhero was given to succeed, and it was a shortened period when compared with other characters.

    “I am a little worried that if every move forward is met with an attitude of “you are trying to placate me and I am not impressed,”

    Uh, no. I respectfully disagree with that. Marvel, like anyone else is not too big to criticize. That’s the only way they finally got it that their early attempts at diversity were more along the lines of caricatures. The more personnel they brought on board who were diverse or those who knew to drop the ethnic dialogue/references that could blow up in their faces, for example the Falcon in pimp gear from back in the day, and that females heroines didn’t need such scantily clad outfits. Maybe with enough people asking Marvel why they don’t have a permanent female character who wields as much power as Thor in their lineup, perhaps they’ll recall that these same criticisms were voiced previously. Now they’re playing catch-up, and not just in the comic books but also their movie franchise (I’m referring to the posts from yesterday, the ones mentioning DC female counterparts vs. Marvel’s. Many thanks to the original poster who brought up that point).

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  14. Robin/Janet
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 16:48:38

    @Farad: In the interview with Jason Aaron I linked to above, he has this to say about the current Thor:

    Does that mena the old Thor isn’t going anywhere? Will he still very much be a part of this new book?

    Yes, Thor Odinson, the Prince of Asgard, will still be around. He’s still Thor. That’s his birth name. He’s unworthy of Mjolnir, but he’ll still have a role to play. If you’ve seen the cover of one of Jonathan Hickman’s upcoming “Avengers” issues where it flashes forward into the future you see what appears to be Thor holding his axe, Jarnbjorn. So that’s kind of a glimpse into our book’s future as well. That’s kind of where we’ve been heading.

    
Again it all goes back to what I’ve set up in “God of Thunder” where we had these three different versions of Thor — the young rambunctious Thor who wasn’t yet worthy of picking up his hammer, present day Thor the Avenger, and then grumpy old King Thor. We’ll continue to see those other versions, but we’ll also start to see present day Thor becoming more of an amalgam of those other two versions.

    @hapax: That is a related buy very different conversation, IMO. I actually have a post I’m working on that deals with representation issues, and it will touch on the issue of authority to write certain stories, but as I said above, one of the reasons I like the way Aaron is handling this new Thor is that it highlights the lack of essentialism in regard to whoever holds the power. Once we start talking about cultural authority and representation/storytelling/myth making, we have to deal with all the ways in which those discussions sometimes implicate essentialist presumptions, and that requires a great deal of untangling and examination of fundamentally unresolvable conflicts. Today I just wanted to throw off my mantle of cynicism and celebrate something that to me represents a positive step forward (however small) in the pop cultural portrayal of elemental power.

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  15. Meljean
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 16:59:12

    I totally agree that the comic book companies are playing catch-up (DC not doing it nearly as well as Marvel, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.)

    I’m also hoping (hoping, hoping) that this is a deliberate strategy to introduce a new top-tier female character instead of someone that they’re going to push back into a secondary role at some point. Mostly because I think that, like any corporation, Marvel wants to make money — and they’ll make far more if she’s a success than otherwise.

    So although I agree that the temporary, step-in-his-shoes method really sucks (and especially sucks because it seems to be necessary in this market, because books like Saga that see any success are so uncommon) I’m hoping that the temporary is just part of a long-term strategy.

    And totally on another track — I’m so SO glad that it’s a character that can’t just be called a “girl/woman” version of the male counterpart. Supergirl/Superwoman. Batman/girl/woman. Spiderman/girl/woman. It’s Thor. Just a name, not a title that already indicates gender.

    Though I do remember a Thorina (?) version, haha. *weeps* I can’t remember what name Rogue when by in her What If…? but I do remember snatching that issue up based on the character and premise alone.

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  16. Ocean
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 18:10:41

    Still not buying this move. The reason Marvel is doing this is not because they’re doing women a favor with diversity in their comics, but because it’s business, plain and simple. It’s just another publicity stunt.

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  17. hapax
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 18:47:15

    @Robin/Janet:

    I actually have a post I’m working on that deals with representation issues, and it will touch on the issue of authority to write certain stories,

    Oh fabulous! I look forward to that. I agree that these are VERY complex issues, without easy answers, and you have a good point about uncoupling power and essentialism.

    I guess it’s as easy to fall into the critical trap of “you didn’t write the post I wanted to discuss” as it is “you didn’t write the story I wanted to read.” :-)

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  18. Meljean
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 19:25:03

    @Ocean: I’m curious — do you think it can’t be both a publicity stunt and an attempt to increase diversity?

    I’m thinking of Marjorie Liu’s run on X-Men and the same-sex wedding that got a huge amount of publicity, and I heard the same thing: it’s all publicity and a stunt, and not about diversity. But although I haven’t asked Marjorie explicitly, I’m guessing that diversity and representation was very much on her mind at the time.

    I am absolutely cynical enough to believe that at least some of it is motivated by the hope that more women will buy the comic = more money for Marvel (or more gay readers will buy X-Men). But I wonder if it absolutely can’t be both at the same time?

    In the same vein, things like Dove commercials that celebrate beauty of all types. Of course it’s about selling their product. But does that always cancel out the message?

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  19. Ocean
    Jul 30, 2014 @ 01:36:18

    @Meljean

    I think it can be both actually, but I can’t help being suspicious of Disney/Marvel only doing this stunt for business reasons because Disney is currently the biggest media conglomerate there is. This whole thing with Thor is packaged as “pro-diversity” or “pro-feminism,” and they’re making it seem as though Marvel, which is owned by Disney, really is concerned with such topics; but why Thor? Why him? Why out of all the heroes in Marvel Universe he’s chosen? They could have just developed Lady Sif or Black Widow or any other established female heroine. Or they could just make another female character. Or it could have been Captain America or Hulk or Hawkeye or Wolverine or Spiderman or Ironman.

    And the answer is because they chose Thor because he is the most well-known character whose background is more or less similar to Wonder Woman’s.

    A God? Check. Of royal lineage? Check. Warrior training and an iconic weapon? Check. Background taken from an ancient European civilization? Check. From a distant island/dimension/planet but presently lives among modern civilization? Check.

    So yes, I’m of the opinion that they are only doing this so that they have their own counterpart of DC’s Trinity (Captain America as Superman and Ironman as Batman). And unless I see that there’s an integral reason for this change, i.e, a really good story behind it, I will continue to believe that Thor being a woman is just done to boost sales and create noise.

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  20. wikkidsexycool
    Jul 30, 2014 @ 09:32:08

    Speaking of who gets the power when rewriting, I think this topic is also of interest. It concerns the Ant Man film, and how the female character called The Wasp is being dropped. The Wasp has an interesting storyline, in that she was a founding member of the Avengers.

    The info in this article by Bridget McGuigan of uzerfriendly.com may come in handy for the other piece you’re doing, Janet:

    http://uzerfriendly.com/controversies-in-geek-culture-erasure-of-female-characters/

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  21. Charming Euphemism
    Jul 30, 2014 @ 12:55:12

    @wikkidsexycool:

    It was not at all clear to me from your comment (even upon rereading) that your main complaint was the possibly temporary nature of the character. Thank you for clarifying.

    I would certainly never suggest that Marvel is too big to criticize, or shouldn’t be criticized for any number of reasons. I’m not sure why you thought I was saying that . My concern was that muddy, unclear criticisms that seemed to sit back and say, “no, that isn’t good enough because reasons; try something else” would not be helpful. You have now stated that your criticism is that the female Thor might be temporary, which is a specific criticism – although, since the author says the character is not temporary, it seems a little premature. But if your original comment was read by someone at Marvel without the clarification, I would certainly understand why that person would throw up their hands in frustration.

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  22. Charming Euphemism
    Jul 30, 2014 @ 12:57:27

    @Ocean:

    The recent Marvel movies have done a great job with Black Widow – she was pretty much a co-star in Winter Soldier along with Captain America. But the fact remains that (at least in the movie version) she is a relatively minor hero without superpowers. Thor is a much, much bigger deal.

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  23. Charming Euphemism
    Jul 30, 2014 @ 13:00:37

    @Meljean:

    Good point re: being both a publicity stunt and an attempt to increase diversity. And we had better hope that moves towards diversity do increase sales, since otherwise they won’t happen as much.

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  24. Meljean
    Jul 30, 2014 @ 14:58:29

    @Charming Euphemism: It’s … unfortunate (such a weak word) that the entities that have the most power to promote diversity in the media are big corporations. So on one hand, I think it’s awesome when we see them making moves like this, even if it’s all about marketing and money, because I would LOVE to one day wake up in a world where female/minority leads are normalized and it’s not a big deal whether the main character is male or female, or what their race, gender, and orientation is. On the other hand, it really sucks if corporations don’t bother just because it doesn’t make money (or they’re afraid of taking the risk, or maybe their execs like women barefoot and pregnant (you never know)).

    I guess the only way to know if they really care about issues like diversity is if they are proceeding *despite* losses. But that’s depressing in an entirely different way, because it means that for some reason the mainstream sales aren’t there. That reason might not be sexism/racism (poor writing might be a reason) but it always seems that the first thing executives say is: Well, people just aren’t interested in women/minority characters. Then other corporations say: Look at that failure! We’re not taking that risk.

    That’s what they’ve done with movies about female superheroes, anyway. Catwoman failed, Elektra failed, so obviously no one wants to watch superheroine movies. Except … both movies were utter crap, and their crappiness didn’t haven’t a thing to do with the fact that women were in the lead roles.

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  25. wikkidsexycool
    Jul 30, 2014 @ 15:35:42

    @Charming Euphemism:

    Here’s a copy of some of what was in my first response:

    “I’m getting the same sinking feeling with these publicity stunts by not just Marvel but others who either add a gay sidekick (Archie Comics) or temporarily take a male character and make them female or of color). While I’m ranting, if it’s about inclusion, then why stop at color or sex? where are the Asian superheroes Marvel? While I can clap for a black Captain America, even if he’s just a temp, Asian representation, not just in superhero land and publishing is just plan woeful.

    When I used to work as a temp, I hated it because I longed for some stability, ya know, like getting a paycheck and benefits on a regular basis.”

    I mentioned “temporarily” “temp” and threw in a tidbit regarding my own stint as a temp. And in my last paragraph, I stated “my main beef is with the temp nature of it all.”

    So regarding your “muddy, unclear criticisms” and someone at Marvel reading what I wrote and throwing up their hands in frustration, I’d give them a hell of a lot more credit regarding reading comprehension.

    Now, as far as the debate on “temporary” or not, I stand by my assertion that at Marvel’s discretion, female Thor will either revert to her previous life form, or get a new title and storyline. The male Thor will get his hammer back when he’s deemed “worthy” again by the powers that be at Marvel. The same thing goes for the black Captain America. In my opinion, that’s a temporary replacement for two popular characters who arer permanent fixtures in the Marvel lineup.

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  26. Rowan McBride
    Jul 31, 2014 @ 01:32:15

    While I’m totally looking forward to the new Thor storyline, I have serious problems with statements like, “I am simply in the mood to advocate for the widespread acceptance of a woman who holds the power of lightning and thunder in her hands.”

    There *is* a woman who holds the power of lightning and thunder in her hands. As well as all other weather. *And* she’s an African goddess. Well, depending on the storyline, but Thor’s had a human alter-ego too. Not Clark Kent human. *Human* human.

    Ororo (A.K.A. Storm) not only is widely accepted, she’s a *fixture* in the X-men universe. So much so that she’s in almost every X-men movie and IS in every X-men cartoon series.

    Not to say there isn’t enough room to fan over more than one lightning wielding heroine, but I feel like the statement above essentially erases one of the most iconic (and cool. really really cool!) characters in the Marvel universe.

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