One look at the current roster of headlining superheroes coming out of Marvel Studios would make anyone curious as to where the females are and where the diversity is. With the films based on source material from decades ago where the typical lead was a white male, there were less lead characters of different genders and race. We even touched on the topic last week when discussing how and when the comic book movie genre will get its top tier female heroes right and before in addressing diversity in comic books in response to Fox casting a black actor as the Fantastic Four’s Human Torch. So, how does Marvel address this? By changing things up.
Yesterday we learned that Disney-owned Marvel would be taking to Disney-owned ABC series The View to announce an all-new “title” and while there was a glimmer of hope for a movie or TV announcement given the target demographic, the timing was odd with Marvel Studios set to unveil the latest on the film side next week at San Diego Comic-Con. Instead, as many suspected, Marvel announced something comic related, something “thunderous.” And it was. The new title is a new Thor, a female Thor.
That’s right. For the first time ever, a female hero will wield the power of the mighty Mjolnir. It’s new character and readers will earn where she came from and how her history ties into Asgard and the rest of the Marvel Universe this October with the re-launch of Thor: God of Thunder, written by Jason Aaron (Thor: God of Thunder, Original Sin) with art from Russell Dauterman (Cyclops). Marvel editor Wil Moss:
“The inscription on Thor’s hammer reads ‘Whosoever holds this hammer, if HE be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.’ Well it’s time to update that inscription. The new Thor continues Marvel’s proud tradition of strong female characters like Captain Marvel, Storm, Black Widow and more. And this new Thor isn’t a temporary female substitute – she’s now the one and only Thor, and she is worthy!”
The gender change of Thor has already stirred a mixed debate online. Series Jason Aaron writer explains that this new Thor “is not She-Thor.” He continues, “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.”
The news comes just a week after Marvel officially announced a new Captain America coming this fall, a new character other than Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes who will wield the iconic star-spangled shield as Rogers loses the effects of the super soldier serum that kept him young and strong. The timing is interesting given that The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases next summer bringing the original incarnations of these characters back to the big screen.
Clearly, Marvel is giving themselves options for the future of their multi-media empire by introducing new versions of their top tier heroes so that when business and Hollywood contracts get in the way of their expansive cinematic plans, they can work around it and bring in new talent while keeping their titular heroes alive. They’re even killing off Wolverine this summer in the books just as Hugh Jackman talks about ending his film career as the fierce mutant antihero. So, if Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth don’t extend their six-picture deals with Marvel Studios after their three solo movies and three Avengers appearances each, Marvel can just bring in other actors to play new versions of Captain America and Thor, respectively.
The PR angle is to address concerns over lack of female characters in the genre and the official announcement is quick to point out that the new Thor is the 8th title to feature a lead female protagonist and the move was designed to appeal to women and girls to expand the audience of the books. On the film side, with Wonder Woman set to be introduced in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016 and still no female-led Marvel movie in sight (that could theoretically change next week if Marvel Studios announces Ms. Marvel), the timing is crucial to introduce some diversity to Marvel’s headlining characters.
Old Thor will no longer be worthy of Mjolnir. Old Steve Rogers is too old and frail for combat. Are you excited and hopeful of these major changes to the Marvel Universe and do you want to see them translate to the silver screen via the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Could we see an introduction of this character in Thor 3?
Guardians of the Galaxy opens August 1, 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, Captain America 3 on May 6 2016, and unannounced films for July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie and TV news!