"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."
I've been waiting to hear those words my whole life. Growing up, the only place I felt safe reading comic books was under my bed covers. Granted, I wasn't reading Thor back then. The hulking Nordic god of Asgard wasn't really my jam (I came around to him later). Instead, I was reading Wonder Woman, The Huntress, etc. Still, these heroines of print weren't really satisfying to me as a little girl looking for heroes to emulate. At best, they were secondary characters, and at worst, they were props for the plot. I was looking for the ass-kickers. And none were to be found.
So that's why I saw a glimmer of hope when Marvel officially announced that Thor is now a woman.
"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," Marvel editor Wil Moss said in the press release. "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!"
In the last 24 hours, I've heard a lot of arguments for why this was the wrong decision. Some fans are complaining about the faith to the original Nordic mythology: "This is an injustice to the Nordic mythology! Vikings are rolling over in their graves!!" Actually, no. The comics were INSPIRED by Nordic mythology. Stan Lee NEVER made the claim that the fictional story would stay true to the legendary narrative. And if that was his intention all along, then it's been reading like a bad fanfiction for the past 50 years. So rest assured, guys, no 11th century Norse warriors give a flip about what some guy in the Milennial has to say about their thunder god. They're dead. (Also, I'm pretty sure frogs and aliens were never part of that mythology — I'm looking at you, Beta Ray Bill.)
Other fans are arguing that this was a publicity stunt, plain and simple. I'm more likely to believe this, but it doesn't change the potential impact. Is it an editorial decision meant to cater more to a female audience? Probably. I mean, they did announce in on The View for chrissake. And yes, Disney now owns Marvel and the empire is moving in that direction. It would be naive to say that this decision was made without considering the social politics and the sales involved. But let's keep this in perspective: No character should be deemed too sacred from revision. If you believe that, then you're just showing how new you are to the world of comics. Gender-swapping characters — even lead characters — is nothing new. The creative teams at Marvel and DC have done this to revive their franchises for years.
And then there were the blatant morons who didn't even attempt at reason. Here are just a few gems curated from comment threads and feeds across the web:
(Are you kidding me?)
(Are you KIDDING me?)
(ARE YOU REALLY KIDDING ME?)
That's not to say that ALL men out there in the fandom are skeevy creeps. That would be unfair. The View cohost Jenny McCarthy's "super-powered boobies" comment during the announcement totally defeated the purpose of a move like this. But I think it's fair to say that these more vocal anonymous trolls have an axe to grind against the ever-enduring "feminist agenda" (eyeroll). That kind of knee-jerk reaction of throwing a tantrum just proves my point. We need to keep pushing the envelope until this kind of news STOPS making headlines.
Everyone is getting upset because they're MISSING THE POINT: Even if it is any one of those things, who is to say that it won't help girls?
Is this pissing a lot of people off? Sure. That's what happens when you try to break a 50-year streak of reiterated sexism in a medium. The mark of the truly radical is the resistance it engenders. Would it be better to boost alpha female characters instead of gender-bending superheroes of old? Probably. We can have Jean Grey, Freya, Black Widow or Stripperella (insert sarcastic eyeroll here), and it's not to say that three of those female characters aren't awesome in their own right. But guess what? It's not a consolation prize for that fact that a little girl can NEVER be Batman or the Hulk (I'm not counting She-Hulk), or Spider-Man. But today, she could be Thor. That's a step in the right direction.
If you're a dude, let me ask you — Why did YOU read comics as a kid? Besides being entertaining and fun, I'm willing to bet you read them for inspiration, for an escape, in the hopes of emulating the heroes depicted on the pages. Well, guess what? It's a sad story, but TRUE heroines are few and far in between. And what is the alternative to this? We continue with the boring, white guy protagonist we've always had (#snoozefest). Personally, I'm getting a little exhausted of seeing the white muscled man. It's time to take back the hammer, ladies ... or perhaps, wield it for the first time ever.