Note: More on my commentary about the recent change in Thor … and when I say more I mean I just fleshed out an earlier post.
Change is inevitable, especially when it comes to comic books. Every fan of the medium knows that. Yet many fans still complain and kick their feet in rage when a publisher changes something in their books — particularly when it involves a character.
Last week Marvel Comics released an image of Thor the thunder god, one of their oldest and most iconic characters. It featured the classic armor, the blond hair and the god’s hammer Mjolnir. However, the person in the armor was a woman instead of the man that has been around ever since Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created Thor back in the 1960s.
Marvel said that this is not a transformation where Thor, son of Odin becomes She-Thor, daughter of Odin. This is a different character, who will take on the role of Thor.
Marvel said this change is part of a bigger story. The male character, who goes by the name of Thor, will continue to be a part of the Marvel Universe — though he will not be wielding his hammer. The publishing company confirmed that the woman taking up Thor’s mantle would be a character who is already in the comics.
This isn’t the first time that other characters stepped in and carried Thor’s hammer. The character Beta Ray Bill, a horse-faced alien introduced in 1983, possessed the hammer for a few issues. Other characters, like the X-Men’s Storm and DC Comics’ Wonder Woman, have also wielded the thunder god’s power in stories taking place in alternate realities.
This isn’t the only big change for Marvel. The publishing company announced that Sam Wilson — known as The Falcon — will be taking on the mantle of Captain America from Steve Rogers, the original Captain America. Iron Man will still be Tony Stark, except he will be “hard to root for” according to Marvel Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
These changes might be a way for the company to tell their own stories apart from the movies.
Like many changes in comic books, these actions have caused uproar among fans. While some folks support these changes, others are denouncing it and claiming that Marvel is doing this as a public relations move to add more diversity to their characters.
My favorite comments are from the people who come onto social media and write something along the lines of “I haven’t been interested in comics in a long time, but I think (insert negative comment relating to the change).”
This kind of reaction isn’t just in regards to comic books. People tend to react to change in a negative way, whether it has to do with sports, entertainment or politics.
I’ve never gotten upset whenever a company like Marvel or DC changes something about one or more of their characters. When Marvel killed Rogers in Captain America No. 25 in 2008, as a fan, I was shocked, but as a writer, I wondered where the creators were going with the story.
I knew that comic book characters usually return from the dead at some point — except for Peter Parker’s uncle Ben and Bruce Wayne’s parents. Rogers returned from the grave less than two years after he was killed.
These types of changes give writers a chance to tell their own stories and introduce new ideas into the fictional universe that has been around for over 50 years. I’m not saying that I’ve enjoyed every change that comes in comics books, but I try and reserve my judgment until I’ve had time to process it and immerse myself into the story.
Like character deaths, changes in comic books don’t last forever. Mjolnir will be returned to Thor — probably around the time that “Avengers: Age of Ultron” hits theaters in May 2015.
When Thor takes back his place among the heroes, the fans who despised the change in the beginning — will go on to say how much they miss the woman who at one time was the thunder god — or goddess.
Al Stover can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.