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17 July 2014 @ 12:06 pm
A plea to Marvel  

Those of you who pay attention to this sort of thing will know that this fall, Thor’s hammer Mjolner will be taken up by a woman, who will also take on the name of Thor. Moreover, Steve Rogers is putting down the shield and Sam Wilson, recently introduced to the world at large as Falcon in the 2nd Captain America movie, will be taking it up. Wilson is a black man, not the first to carry the Captain America moniker, but I believe he’s the first person at all to do so as someone Steve chose as his own successor.

Thor’s name is apparently being treated as a title, which I’m pretty cool with. I’m a little confused as to what we’ll be calling Thor himself, since his *name* is Thor and he’s presumably still a god, it’s just that he and Mjolner are on the outs again and it’s apparently decided he’s not worthy, but nevermind that. Marvel’s making statements left and right that the woman taking up Mjolner *is* Thor, and that’s cool and interesting and I, who have never liked comic-book-Thor, might just read that.

Cappy’s name has been passed around several times, and as a newly-fledged (er, no pun intended) Falcon fan, I’m freaking thrilled that Sam Wilson will be the man behind the mask. I am not, apparently, violently attached to the skin color or gender of my superheroes; I *like* the idea of them being flexible.

The only problem is that very little lasts, in superhero comics. Nobody really thinks that OriginalThor will be on the outs with Mjolner forever; everybody knows Steve will carry the shield again.

But what if that didn’t happen? What if they held the line? What if, yeah, maybe Thor does take up Mjolner again, or Steve the shield–but it’s only momentary, filling in for an emergency? What if they were *allowed* to do that, and what if we, as readers–particularly as women or people of color–were given those characters straight-up and for the long haul?

*That* would shake things up. *That* is what I’d really love to see. I’d love to have my cynicism proven wrong and for the status quo to change.

But the thing is, status quo is subjective. Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson got divorced after 20 (real life) years of marriage, because Marvel editors wanted to return Spider-Man to the status quo–nevermind that for an entire generation of readers, Peter and MJ being married *was* the status quo.

The problem was that it wasn’t the status quo for the editors and writers. They had grown up with an unmarried Peter and so that was how it Should Be.

But, y’know, I grew up with an unmarried Peter (and aside from the middling detail that I wanted to marry him myself in my childhood years) and I was terribly disappointed and shocked that they divorced. So I’m hoping–I’m even asking–that Marvel lets these changes stay in place long enough to become the norm.

And then I ask that they have the courage to recognize that for a generation, and for a gender, and for a race, that the status quo is important, and that when they change again–because they will–that they should continue to look forward with those changes, and not back.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

 
 
 
anthony_lionanthony_lion on July 17th, 2014 12:55 pm (UTC)
Frankly, I have no idea of why Marvel thinks that female Thor is such a good idea.

Thor is the quintessential macho man. Has always been.
He may have dressed as a woman now and then to trick his way past Ice giants or whatever, but yeah. Macho...
(The old sagas are full of stories where the Gods aren't always 'at their best' )

For some reason, people at Marvel thinks that Mjolnir is 'the mantle and essence of the God of Thunder'...
It's not. It's Thor's weapon(and for some, it's a symbol of faith. One of many), that's all.

If I was to hazard a guess as to why Marvel is doing this, it's probably because of lagging sales...
They need to do 'something' every few years to attract new readers.
Geek of Weird Shit: statlerwaldorfgows on July 17th, 2014 01:35 pm (UTC)
Unsurprisingly, I had not heard either of these things, but I love the ideas! And yeah, I'm sure everything will turn back into the Standard White Dude, but it's nice to know that someone was thinking a little bit differently.
Amberleyamberley on July 17th, 2014 04:59 pm (UTC)
20 years down the memory hole
Didn't Peter Parker and Mary Jane's marriage get erased because of some absurd plot involving Mephisto? So not divorce, but never-was-ification. At least she didn't wind up in a refrigerator. Or I may be mistaken.

I try to read as little Marvel as I can (I have a weakness for Gillen & McKelvie, I freely admit), and so all these changes mean much less to me now than it would have in my Marvel fanboy days. But the status quo in superhero comics always reverts, because it is inherently a deeply conservative approach to the medium, and all the more so when run by corporations.

Meanwhile, lots of other exciting things are happening in comics: Bryan Lee O'Malley's Seconds just came out (so good!), and Gillen & Mckelvie's The Wicked + The Divine.
Kari Sperringla_marquise_de_ on July 17th, 2014 09:36 pm (UTC)
I have this completely unrealistic hope that Mjolnir has taken up with Mockingbird, who is currently awol and has had some serious liberties taken with her backstory in the last run of Secret Avengers. It won't be,. of course: she isn't important enough to Marvel and they want her out, for this nonsensical Spiderwoman-Hawkeye thing.
Sam as Captain America though is awesome and I will be trying to read it. Falcon is a great character.
I grew up with single Peter too, and yet am unhappy with that divorce (as I am with Hawkeye and Mockingbird).
kitmizkit on July 17th, 2014 09:38 pm (UTC)
I have several unrealistic hopes as to who Mjolnir is going to choose, myself. Let's hope one of us gets what we want! :)
pgwfolcpgwfolc on July 18th, 2014 07:24 am (UTC)
Last time Steve died, Bucky took up the shield for a while. And proved to be unworthy of it, with his head so messed up and all. But I think that may qualify as Steve having picked his successor.

(Actually, at the time, Steve willed his shield to Stephen Colbert, who received it in an on-air ceremony and has since had it hanging on the wall of his set. But that's not 616 continuity.)

You're right that permanently passing on the mantle is a rare thing. It has happened before, but not often. (Barry Allen was killed off in Crisis, and his former sidekick Wally West became The Flash and kept that title for years.)

I think the question of what happens to Cap depends on what they decide to do in the movies. Sam is contracted for the next 9 or so films, is it? They could well decide to kill Steve off in the movies and have Sam take over. That would make the change in the comics stick. On the other hand, if it doesn't happen, then Steve will make his triumphant return when the next Cap movie comes out.

Whatever the case, Falcon has been around for a few decades now, but always as a secondary character at best. He's been Cap's sidekick and then partner my whole life, but I'd barely heard of him, either. So the upshot here is that a Black character will be getting more attention and prominence, and I think that will stick for a while even if Steve comes back.

Meantime, Ms. Marvel is now a Muslim girl (while Carol has adventures in space as Captain Marvel), She-Hulk has her own series again, etc. Marvel is, slowly, moving towards a more diversified lineup, and that's a good thing.

Oh, and if you look up "Mjolnir (Marvel Comics)" you'll see that many people have wielded the hammer over the years, including Storm and (in an alternate timeline) Rogue. It'll be interesting to see who gets it this time. I'd bet on Sif or Valkyrie, but it could really be just about anyone (though she does appear to be White). Perhaps even a new character who will go on to have her own title and identity even after Thor reclaims his hammer (in time for the next movie).
kitmizkit on July 18th, 2014 07:27 am (UTC)
The Rogue-Thor story is one of my favourites, actually. I really loved that one. :)

They've made it clear it's not a new character, but I'm kind of hoping it'll be someone who is kind of going to use being Thor as a test for herself and then, yeah, move into being a character of her own. Since I don't think they're going to take the hammer away from him forever. :) Fingers crossed!
Chris: Hercules90scartoonman on August 11th, 2014 04:43 am (UTC)
It'd be extremely EXTREMELY hard to make anything like that the new status quo. The only way for Sam Wilson to become THE Captain America and not Steve Rogers is for him to have comic book print adventures as Captain America for 70+ years (meaning he'd have more history in that identity than Steve).

We have a better shot at Female Thor sticking around. Beta Ray Bill once wielded Mjolnir and then got Stormbreaker, his own mystical hammer. The same could happen with the new Thor once the old Thor returns.