Sean Ray | Student Columnist
On July 15 Marvel Comics announced that Thor, one of their biggest characters, would be losing his superpowers, which would be given to an unknown female character.
“Thor is the latest in the ever-growing and long list of female-centric titles that continues to invite new readers into the Marvel Universe. Thor will be the eighth title to feature a lead female protagonist and aims to speak directly to an audience that long was not the target for super hero comic books in America: women and girls,” the article “Marvel’s new Thor will become a woman” on The Verge making the announcement reads. And that is not a good thing.
Don’t get me wrong. Diversity in comics is a very good thing. Out of all the super hero comics I read, a majority of them are minorities in some respects, and three of them are female characters. But wholly replacing a character with a female one and calling it good for diversity and feminism is actually a step backwards in a progressive world.
The fact of the matter is, this new female character is only being given this much attention because she is replacing a male. She isn’t a character with a deep backstory full of secrets and mystery like Black Widow. She is only given relevancy because she is a woman replacing a male.
Furthermore, it’s not like she is breaking any ground. Female super heroes have been a thing for a very, very long time.
She’s Caucasian, so any race barriers are hardly approached. Compare this to another recent female super hero, Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel. Kamala is the child of Pakistani immigrants, and is Marvel’s first major Muslim super hero. Many of the stories in her book talk about her dealing with a different culture than many of her neighbors in the state of Jersey. That is changing things up.That is making an interesting character. The new female Thor isn’t going to face discrimination, there are plenty of female super heroes in the Marvel universe, and even more Asgardian. She only exists to drum up controversy for the fact she is replacing a male character.
Controversial moves like this are not a new thing to comics either. The Death of Superman received massive amounts of attention when it came out, Marvel’s Civil War comic event that pitted superhero against superhero, and Batman getting his back broken in Knightfall. But what connects a lot of these stories is two things. Firstly, they are not looked back upon favorably, ask almost any hard core comic book fan and you’ll hear many complaints about those stories. Secondly, they were made to drum up attention from non-comic readers to boost sales.
“They (comic publishers) reach out to a crowd that does not deal with comics regularly, so that creates a lot of buzz with them.” Manager of Century 3 Mall’s New Dimension Comics “Chip” Grossman said in an interview.
This is much of the same thing. Something meant to draw attention to itself, and cash in a quick buck, maybe make a few new comic readers, before returning to status quo. When the announcement was made, it appeared on many non-comic related mediums, including Time, Hollywood Reporter and The View by Woopi Goldberg.
To all prospective female comic readers, I give this advice: pick another female hero. There are tons of them to get interested in, who have their own books and are not a publicity stunt. Go read Harley Quinn, Captain Marvel, Black Widow, Bat Girl, Spider Woman, Ms. Marvel, or the Runaways, a super hero team made up of a majority of females. Go read Wonder Woman, undoubtedly the most popular female super hero. You deserve better than a publicity stunt. And so do these women, whether they be fictional or not.