Marvel NOW! Diverse
There have been some very epic developments coming from Marvel lately, mainly that two of their Big 3 will be passing off their mantles. For those who do not know, Marvel’s Big 3 are Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man. Iron Man is moving to San Francisco and getting a silver suit. I like the focus on the West Coast, but it was no where as big a move as when he went to space. Still, it opens a lot of new opportunities and a welcomed change in environment (I expect to see no more than 3 Golden Gate Bridge depictions in the first issue). The bigger news though comes from the other two, who I’ll go over chronologically of how I learned about them.
Thor, the God of Thunder, will mess up and no longer be worthy to wield Mjolnir. In his stead, a new female character will take up the Uru hammer and become Thor. It was noted that the hammer’s inscription reads “..if HE be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor” but I also remember it saying “Whosoever hold’s this hammer shall wield the power of Thor.” Which I think fits more since I also remember Storm wielding it. This new Thor is not She- Thor, Thorita, or any copy of Thor, it was made clear that she is Thor.
Steve Rogers sacrifices the Super Soldier Serum to save the world, losing its benefits and rapidly ages to the age he would be without it (which is 90 something). Unable to physically be Captain America, the mantle and shield will be passed to Sam Wilson, aka Falcon.
These are huge steps, not just the Marvel Universe, but in comic culture and culture in general. Having a black leader of the world’s most famous super hero team (I say this confidently because there is an Avengers movie but no Justice League Movie) and also a woman as one of the strongest characters in comic book history. I am honestly very excited to see these changes.
But I do have concerns and doubts. In terms of Captain America, I have pretty much no doubt, I believe the passing of the mantle is something we should see happen more often in comics. It grounds heroes, it also allows for progression and for the characters to stay in real time. I thoroughly respect how Marvel has kept their heroes fluid and concrete through a singular time line versus DC rebooting at what seems to be every 3-5 years. I hope this will be like when Wally West took over for Barry Allen and had a good long run as The Flash, and not like when Bucky took over for what seemed like a year. Side kicks grow up and people get old, but the hero is a symbol and as much as people have come to admire the ones who represent it, they too need to move on and give others a chance to uphold the name. Think of it like sports, when Kobe leaves, I will still be a Laker fan; when Jordan left there were still Bulls Fans, when LeBron left… well I’ll end it there.
Thor is where my main concerns lie. I am completely pro having a strong woman as one of the main figures of Marvel. However, I feel the ranks could have been filled by existing characters such as Ms. Marvel, Scarlet Witch, or to keep in theme with the Norse Gods, any of the other Female Norse God like Lady Sif or Valkyrie. By this new character becoming Thor, I feel it will always kind of linger that she is only such a prominent and strong character because she has the powers of the previous male character. This in no way implies she is unworthy or incapable, but she is only as cool as she will be because she has the powers of a man. Even more so because Sam Wilson is a trained and seasoned Avenger, and it seems this new Thor will just magically gain powers.
Another thing, Thor is not (or at least was not) a mantle, it is the characters name. I read that the new Thor is going to keep the name in honor of the previous Thor, who saved her life, but Thor is not a superhero name it’s his name. There is going to be a comic line about the disgraced Thor called “Unworthy Thor” which means there will be two Thors. So the other Thor, will still have powers of Thor, seeing as he is Thor and a Norse God, but without his mighty hammer, and this new character will have his powers and his hammer. Anyone else see where the confusion will lie? So Unworthy Thor will either be kicked off the Avengers, maybe become a villain, or just be some wash up going on adventures for no reason. If there is a reason, it would mean he could eventually come back as Thor, which would be annoying and counter productive. Also if they are ever both in the same room, do you really call him “Unworthy Thor” since the other character is currently Thor?
Lastly if she is not a god, which it seems like she won’t be, will she only have powers while she has Mjolnir? This will make for very interesting plot points, and probably embellish her cunning and her independent strength away from it but could get old when the number one strategy to beat her would be “get her when she’s away from the hammer.”. Also would Hulk hit a girl for eating his lunch?
Overall, I am excited to see these new developments take place. I believe it will open the way for new characters to be created and developed, rather than keeping the same ones for decades beyond belief. This will allow for characters to really grow and evolve far beyond becoming the next solution for the next crisis. Characters will be able to leave the super hero life for awhile or for ever, but remain a presence. Characters can have resolution and even normal lives. It will open up new avenues of arguments for nerds all over for who they believe is the best version of a hero and why, much like how we argue now about which actor played Batman or Bond the best (Bale and Craig). It also can open up possibilities for generation team ups, like the epic Red Ranger team up the Power Rangers did. Side kicks will be able to grow up, deaths could actually mean something, the comic book genre will open up and we can stop having reboots all the time.
Culturally speaking it would be encouraging for minorities, especially children, to see ethnically diverse teams working together and saving the world. It would give minorities someone they can look up and relate to on a more personal level. It would also help to connect white people to minorities; seeing minorities as heroes who struggle and overcome could allow them to see minorities as a person without having to put a describer before person (eg. ASIAN person, BLACK person, LATINO person). It could also mean Hollywood will stop replacing ethnic lead characters with white people: Dragon Ball Evolution, The Last Air Bender, Hachi.
As it seems now, we are a culture finally able to accept the death of characters even without resolution, in my opinion thanks in large part to George R.R. Martin, and that there are other races in America that are not white but still American. We now know and accept our heroes have flaws and can die, we know resolution may not always come, but it will keep us hooked because even if it’s not what we had hoped there is always more to come.