If You're Bothered by Lady Thor, You're the Reason There's a Lady Thor

The comic book nerdwire is all atwitter with reactions to the news that Marvel is going to make Thor, the actual-Norse-deity-appropriated-as-a-spandex-clad-hero, a lady. The reactions have pretty much split down the middle into the sort of predictable "Finally, lady superheroes and a positive portrayal of women in pop culture for all the young girls to look up to!" and "WTF U CANT MAKE THOR HAVE A VAGINA THAT RUINS THE CONTINUITY."

You can probably guess which side I'm on.

I have to give Marvel some credit for, from what we can see so far, doing this "the right way." Lady Thor isn't going to be a sidekick, or an alternate universe version, or even called "Lady Thor." The storyline has been teased that the current Thor, who has to be pure of heart or whatever to hold the magical god-hammer, will lose that quality and the hammer will fall to the next person who meets the criteria. And that person will be a woman. 

I caught a lot of shit years ago for saying DC's "Gay Green Lantern" felt disingenuous and condescending, and I still stand by it: slapping a big "I'M GAY NOW" sticker over an existing character isn't the same as creating a nuanced, fleshed-out character that is, among many other things, gay. (I have to admit I haven't kept up with the gay Green Lantern to know if they got around to paying the character some respect or if they even stuck to that gimmick.) But the same would be said if Marvel decided that Thor would fall for some old school D&D trap and have his gender switched or whatever. So kudos to them for that.

But the fact that this is such a conversation topic (okay, in the comic nerd world anyway) shows why it's important that it's happening. The fact that a superhero getting rebooted as a lady gets a splash just for having a female heroine, combined with the fact that there are people actually grousing about it, says we're still at a point where we need more portrayals of female heroines in pop culture. Once we're at the point where Marvel teases a female Captain America or whatever and no one really bats an eye because big whoop, another lady superhero, then we'll be able to re-evaluate where we're at as a culture and species.

And seriously. Thor has been a horse-faced alien, a bearded architect/deadbeat dad, a ginger documentary film maker, a heathen cultist, a zombie, a dog, a Christian priest (jesus way to salt the wound, Marvel), and the list goes on and on and on. A lady is not in any way too unbelievable, and doesn't disrespect whatever "proud tradition" of the character or whatever seems to be upsetting people.

And I get it: if you're really into Thor, it might be odd to pick up an issue and suddenly find the character you've followed for years is replaced by a woman. But I have every confidence that Dude Thor will show back up at some point, and if Thor's run as a woman is successful the creators will find a way to have them both inhabit the Marvel universe. They've got no problem doing that kind of shit. 

But if you're REALLY upset or feel like "that's not my Thor," you should probably get in line.


Anonymous said...

Your link to Woot brings back one of my favorite auto corrects of all time. I can't think of a reason we shouldn't have a grumpy super hero. Michelle Bachmann, and her husband, believe that if you just love grumpy people they won't be grumpy anymore.

Randall Cleveland said...

Sometimes worrying about hurting people's feelings and censoring a word can really hinder discourse.