Thor

There’s an oft-used trope in the realm of com­ic books when sales are dwin­dling: Take a well-established male char­ac­ter and make a fe­male ver­sion. I sup­pose the log­ic be­hind it is that a new fe­male role mod­el will at­tract a new de­mo­graph­ic whilst not hav­ing to risk a non-established char­ac­ter in a sat­u­rat­ed mar­ket. It’s anal­o­gous to an ad­ver­tis­ing ex­ec­u­tive dis­cov­er­ing the per­fect ve­hi­cle to shove a tired, old prod­uct in for new set of faces by ad­just­ing the paint job a bit. I have al­ways thought of this as a lazy gim­mick more than any­thing else. Whilst fe­male char­ac­ters de­riv­a­tive of their male coun­ter­parts can de­vel­op into tru­ly great per­sonas of their own (She-Hulk and Spider-Woman im­me­di­ate­ly spring to mind), most of the time peo­ple see straight through it. It al­ways strikes me as a bit daft too; tak­ing the risk with a com­plete­ly new fe­male su­per­hero is sure­ly more laud­able than giv­ing a male char­ac­ter long hair and stick­ing -girl at the end of their name. I mean, who hon­est­ly re­mem­bers Miss Martian or Cyborgirl? The most suc­cess­ful distaff coun­ter­parts tend to be those who are marked­ly dif­fer­ent from the orig­i­nal. So why do they need to be de­riv­a­tive of an ex­ist­ing char­ac­ter in the first place? But hey, I can un­der­stand not want­i­ng to take a risk when you’re a billion-dollar multi­na­tion­al cor­po­ra­tion … wait. That doesn’t log­ic.

 

In any case, chang­ing the gen­der of a char­ac­ter can demon­strate a lack of cre­ative vi­sion. Often a char­ac­ter is in­tro­duced with a lack­adaisi­cal “they got the same pow­ers from the same ac­ci­dent in­volv­ing this su­per sci­ence laser.” Having some­one show up with the same set of pow­ers sans pe­nis is kind of bor­ing. This is ac­tu­al­ly why I was ex­cit­ed for the po­ten­tial of a fe­male Thor. Thor draws pow­er from the myth­i­cal ham­mer, Mjolnir.

 

Whosoever wields this ham­mer, if he be wor­thy, shall pos­sess the pow­er of Thor.”

 

Originally the ham­mer was wield­ed by Dr. Donald Blake, a nerdy physi­cian who be­came the Asgardian thunder-god Thor when he picked up the ham­mer. He was wor­thy; thus he was Thor. Several dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters have wield­ed Mjolnir over the years, in­clud­ing a weird horse-alien thing, Storm of the X-men, and Loki, who I’m sure every­one knows as Tom Hiddleston by now. For Thor, there’s an ac­tu­al rea­son why the char­ac­ter would change — if they’re wor­thy, they can be Thor. It re­al­ly doesn’t mat­ter what the gen­der is in that case, re­gard­less of pre­cise wordage in the hammer’s in­scrip­tion. So, when Marvel an­nounced Thor would be­come a woman, my re­ac­tion was “cool.”

 

Then this hap­pened:

Thor #5

The above is an ex­tract from the 5th is­sue, the new run of Thor. In it, Thor is bat­tling Absorbing Man, who uses the choice phras­es:

 

Damn fem­i­nists are ru­in­ing every­thing.”

and

Thor’s a dude. One of the last man­ly dudes left.”

 

After this, Thor’s in­ter­nal mono­logue es­pous­es how much of a “creep” the vil­lain is for not be­ing a fem­i­nist. Now I know ex­act­ly what they’re try­ing to do here. Absorbing Man is a cypher for in­ter­net fan­boys who shriek about how every­thing needs to re­main at the sta­tus quo and how Thor be­ing a woman is the worst thing to hap­pen to comics since Rob Liefield. I get it. This kind of so­cial com­men­tary has al­ways been done in comics. Here’s my is­sue with this thing: It’s fuck­ing aw­ful writ­ing.

 

When mak­ing so­cial com­men­tary, you nev­er out­right state ex­plic­it­ly your opin­ions ver­ba­tim. That doesn’t work. All that hap­pens is you end up turn­ing peo­ple off. I’m all for the idea of fem­i­nism in com­ic books. There’s some re­al­ly fer­tile ground there — just look at Y: The Last Man for an amaz­ing ex­am­ple. The is­sue with Thor is that they’ve changed an es­tab­lished character’s gen­der. People are go­ing to have a prob­lem with this. Most com­ic book fans will see it as a gim­mick to gain pub­lic­i­ty. Marvel’s al­ready start­ing on the back foot with this. To then start pro­claim­ing that “we know bet­ter than you, and any­one who dis­agrees is a sex­ist ass­hole” isn’t the best thing to do. Thor shouldn’t care about such triv­ial mat­ters. Anyone who ques­tions her be­cause of her gen­der gets a ham­mer up­side the head. She doesn’t need em­pow­er­ing, she’s the God of Thunder. It’s a shame too be­cause I love the de­sign of the new Thor. She’s got po­ten­tial to be such a cool char­ac­ter. When I see this lev­el of lazy writ­ing, it’s just so dis­ap­point­ing.

It could be worse, though. At least Thor didn’t sell his love to the dev­il then have the last 18 months of his mem­o­ry erased. Who’d be stu­pid enough to do that?

(Disclaimer: The opin­ions ex­pressed in this ar­ti­cle are the author’s own and do not nec­es­sar­i­ly rep­re­sent those of the SuperNerdLand.com staff and/or any con­trib­u­tors to this site.)

Batgirl, Censorship, and You
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John Burton
John is a tat­tooed as­tronomer. He hearts games, movies & beardy mu­sic. He also bakes a lot and looks through tele­scopes less of­ten than he’d like. Helps with GamerGiving char­i­ty stream­ing as well!
John Burton

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