Does the New, Female Thor Signify the Future of Marvel Comics?

Source: Marvel Comics

Marvel is officially passing Thor’s hammer on to a woman. As announced on ABC’s The View on Tuesday, the comic book series will soon star a new, female version of the character.

View moderator Whoopi Goldberg introduced the superhero with co-host Jenny McCarthy, explaining that the female Thor “created herself” by following the male Thor after he saves her and making herself look like him before “taking over.” Some of the artwork for the new female Thor, drawn by Russell Dauterman, was also unveiled. The illustrations show a blonde woman wearing a silver suit and wielding Mjolnir, the hero’s mystical hammer, which will soon be undergoing a minor change.

“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 Will Moss said in a statement. “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!”

Not many details surrounding her story have been released, including what her real identity is when she’s not being the superhero. But Marvel’s editor-in-chief, Axel Alonso, confirmed that it’ll be a while before audiences learn who she actually is. “We’re going to tease out for quite a while the identity of who this woman is. But one of the women in Thor’s life picks up the hammer. She is in fact worthy. And she becomes Thor,” Alonso told Time.

To be clear, this version of Thor will still be a God of Thunder, not a goddess. “This is not She-Thor,” senior writer Jason Aaron said in a company press release. “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.”

Thor was first introduced in 1962 and has remained more or less the same character for the majority of the time since, although there have been exceptions where other characters, like alien Beta Ray Bill and X-Men’s Storm, have been able to pick up the hammer. While fans knew Marvel had something new up its sleeves, news of the gender switch was clearly not what people were expecting.

The announcement started an Internet frenzy, with fans reacting with everything from avid enthusiasm to downright indignation. But Moss says the conventional version of Thor isn’t going to just disappear. “The male Thor — he’s still going to be around. He’s still a character,” he said.

The switch seems to be part of a greater effort in recent years to make comics more diverse. In 2011, mixed-race teen Miles Morales became The Amazing Spider-Man after Peter Parker died and in 2012, and Green Lantern Alan Scott announced he was gay. Late last year, Marvel Comics also announced a reboot of another female hero, Ms. Marvel, whose real identity is Muslim teen Kamala Khan.

It’s not surprising that Marvel seems to be embracing more female stars, especially given that the women are wielding a much bigger influence at the box office now than in past years, and many recent male-centered films have failed to draw a large female audience.

Still, nothing in the comic world seems to be permanent — as evidenced by the many major comic book characters previously killed and then brought back to life — so while the female Thor will be taking over the series, out in October, for the foreseeable future, it’s possible the hammer will change ownership again. By then, though, the comic book world may have added even more powerful and diverse female characters to its ranks.

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