The Great Marvel Controversy

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Captain America is now black, Thor will be a woman, the Avengers and other Marvel characters are coming back in rebooted forms, and apparently all of these things are just as controversial as they are true.

Marvel announced the first two bombshells recently, followed by another announcement that there will be a renewed focus on other characters and there have been mixed reactions to the news. The surprising thing to me was the notion that though Captain America’s change in race is apparently a big deal; Thor becoming a woman is just going too far. One article even cited a fan comment saying the decision was the “stupidest thing Marvel has ever done.”

But why?

Why the change? Why are the changes “bad’?

In the case of the captain, Steve Rodgers is retiring and Sam Wilson will be donning the costume; while the story of Thor will feature a woman who is determined to be worthy of the hammer and therefore earns all of Thor’s powers and his name.

In each case a hero is stepping down and someone is taking their place. Can’t fight those battles forever. Hell, Batman has Batman Inc in the DC comics and Bruce Wayne was certainly not the only one to wear the suit. The purists I expect to argue, because they always do. I have always found this ironic too, because comics are constantly in flux. Things change and entirely different versions of characters are created, characters get killed off, retire, get replaced…..it happens literally ALL THE TIME in comics.

Seeing a focus on the Scarlet Witch will be cool to see, and the news also included hints at a closer look at the Winter Soldier, which I can get behind. I have to admit I am not the biggest fan of the Captain America franchise, but the Winter Soldier movie that came out fairly recently was excellent and I would really enjoy seeing more of that character. Some of the other characters like Ant-Man seem to be riding the comics popularity wave to fame, but it’s too early to really make a clear call.

Seeing Sam as Captain America will be a change, but at the same time I feel our society has done a disservice to racial equality by titling nearly every news article covering the change as something that equates to, “Holy shit, Captain America is Gonna be a Black Guy.”

Haven’t we gotten past all that? No one seems to mention or care about the story leading up to the change, all they seem to see is the race of the replacement….or in Thor’s case, the gender. Why does it matter?

Also, just a side note for Thor complainers who hate the idea of Thor being a woman….. Loki was a woman for a time……that’s only created one of the most popular cosplay costumes of recent history. So why is it bad if Thor is a woman?

The answer to that may lie in the way the news was presented. One quote I saw suggested that Thor was “no longer worthy” to hold the hammer. If I were a longtime major fan of Thor, I would be upset about that. No longer worthy? You just discredited an entire history of a character for a story change. That much I can see being upset about. I am neither upset nor thrilled about the change, it is what it is. I understand comics like to shake things up. The only thing I am a bit on the fence about is the wording I mentioned prior, and the comic industry’s motivations behind the change.

Several critics suggest the change is being made in an effort to generate more of a female market and get girls into comics because apparently girls cannot relate to Thor.

Let’s just back up on that.

Speaking from personal experience, comics appealed to me even when 98% of the title characters were men. I see the reasoning behind trying to have more female characters and I even admire it to a degree, but just because a character ISN’T my gender, it does not mean I can’t relate to them. In a backhanded sort of way, I almost feel insulted that it is suggested that girls can’t relate to a male character. I would also like to see less of reinventing classic characters, and maybe oh, I don’t know…. creating someone new?

But, especially if you take a look at Hollywood over the past few years, it’s easy to see that America doesn’t like to risk it all on something new very often….but maybe we should. The Matrix was new and different and it shaped a decade of action movies at least….some could argue its influence is still heavily seen today. Hunger Games has swept the nation, and Game of Thrones–which so many people thought could never become the “big thing”–is dominating the market.

For comics and super heroes, we are in a golden age right now. Let’s take advantage of it! Comic artists—throw all your cards on the table, do something new! You never know, it might become the next huge thing.

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One response to “The Great Marvel Controversy

  1. I am glad somebody said it. I agree 100% with you and this very well written. I personally love what they are doing with Thor. Having played as a woman, why not? I am actually more interested in the character now than I was when he was a man.

    Secondly, as for Captain America…never liked him. White or black I don’t like the character at all. I personally whish they gave the Black Panther his justified due. He whooped Captain America’s a long time ago in Africa, but they won’t give him his due.

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