“This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.” – Jason Aaron, ‘Thor’ series writer
Superheroes are for boys as Barbies are for girls. It just makes sense.
So when Marvel decided to make a change to one of their main characters, people talked about it. A lot.
In mid-July, Marvel announced that a woman will wield Mjölnir (the hammer that contains Thor’s powers) and will become the new Thor. It won’t be a temporary change nor an extension of the character, like Thor Girl. The female Thor will take the place of Thor Odinson (the Thor that we know), who was deemed “unworthy” to wield the hammer. How he is deemed unworthy, and who the “worthy” female will be remains a mystery until the first issue of the new Thor arrives in October, but at least Marvel gave a glimpse of how both would look like.
This isn’t the only change they’ll be making to their major characters. They also announced a new armor (and attitude) for Tony Stark in Superior Iron Man, and a new, African-American Captain America. Whether these changes are Marvel’s way of expressing their stance on contemporary issues or they just want to make things interesting, it certainly gained a lot of attention.
The Marvel Universe is a complex world that only comic book enthusiasts (let’s call them that) will fully understand. However, for the majority whose ideas about the superheroes are those from cartoons, movies, some comic books, and probably some internet sources (a classification where I include myself), changes like these seem radical, especially following the success of superhero movies associated to those characters. While Iron Man remains to be Tony Stark, and a black Captain America will be someone with a superhero background (Sam Wilson, known as Falcon and fought alongside Steve Rogers’ Captain America and the Avengers was revealed to succeed Cap), the change to Thor became the biggest shock to everyone who learned about it.
It isn’t a surprise why. When the first movie about the Norse God came out, there were some doubts about the relatively unknown actor who was going to play Thor. The directors seemed to have hit a home run with Chris Hemsworth, as the actor certainly pleased a certain demographic. Though I personally wasn’t able to see the movie when it first came out, my social media news feed was mostly filled by female friends (young and old) posting whatever pictures they could find of Hemsworth half naked. Sometimes, they even offered a bit of a review about the movie too (thanks ladies who actually cared for the movie!). It seemed to me that watching the movie wasn’t about seeing a superhero movie, but rather enduring a half-and-hour long shriek fest of women waiting for Hemsworth to come on screen. Shrieks aside, the movie turned out pretty well, almost hitting $500M in gross worldwide box office sales. His performance in the first movie, compounded with the brilliance of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Chris Evans’ Captain America in their own movies led to the hype that made The Avengers top all-time box office sales on opening weekends. The second installment of Thor’s trilogy, Thor: The Dark World, earned more than its predecessor, and clearly a nod to Hemsworth’s portrayal of the Norse God.
After all that testosterone-driven Thor momentum, Marvel goes on and says Thor Odinson is no longer worthy of the powerful hammer, and a woman will become the new Thor. Of course, it was generally praised for the message they seemed to convey; it put a woman in a position of power in the Marvel Universe. Here‘s a positive view about it from a woman. In both insights, the comments section is filled with comic book enthusiasts who express their disappointment in the change. Of course, since social media is free, people used it to express their thoughts about it, be it funny or with a degree of seriousness. The same enthusiasts also found a way to make more fun out of it by “interviewing” other female personalities in the superhero world.
What will become of Thor, then?
If there’s one thing for sure, Chris Hemsworth won’t be re-casted in the current series of Marvel movies. I guess that means for those who enjoy the movies rather than follow the comic books, Thor can still be a model of masculinity. As for the comic book enthusiasts, they have every right to believe that this is a gimmick that will eventually end up with Thor being Thor again.
Maybe these reactions are exactly what Marvel expected from this kind of move. Maybe they’re not stopping here. Maybe, they just want girls to drop those Barbies for superheroes they can follow.
I guess, only Marvel would know what will happen in the future of their Universe.
*Photos courtesy of Thor’s official Facebook page. Published under Creative Commons license.