Thor Is A Woman (And Other Good News)

Thor Is A Woman (And Other Good News)

Big week for women, this one. The cabinet reshuffle brought more women into prominent roles (yeah but they’re still Tories though, aren’t they?), the CofE voted in favour of women being allowed to become bishops, and Marvel announced that Thor is going to be a woman in new comics. Guess which one I’m going to talk about.

You’re right! It’s a politics blog again! Oh wait, no. *shuffles notes* So, Thor.

I do love this art style. It's pretty rad.
I do love this art style. It’s pretty rad.

Haven’t heard about this recasting, or think it’s a joke? The BBC, the Guardian, Time, the Verge, and Newsarama wrote about it…. and that’s just the first handful of Google results. I’m not here to summarise the announcement, so check one or more of those out if you haven’t heard about it. But I’ll quickly say that we’re talking comic!Thor, not movie!Thor … yet.

Now, I’m a member of YAvengers, a blog that gives writing advice and talks about fiction through the personae of the Avengers. I’m Iron Man, by the way, if you didn’t already know. Despite the characters being almost exclusively male, the team is currently entirely female (although may not be soon…), so hey, we’ve technically got a female Thor already. On your left, Marvel.

I told my parents about this announcement, and they had very different reactions. Dad asked, “How can Thor be a woman?” (The short answer is that Thor is fictional and therefore can be anything, you know.) Then, after googling it and reading the articles, he said, “Well, you wait until all your heroines get turned into men.” Yeah, er, think you missed the part where male heroes drastically outnumber their female counterparts…

Mum, on the other hand, said, “Oh, well, there’s all that gender fluidity in Norse mythology, isn’t there?” But then, she did read several drafts of my Extended Project which discussed that very topic, so I guess that’s not that surprising.

I'd prefer armour more like Sif's -- hey, can Sif get her own series too?
I’d prefer armour more like Sif’s — hey, can Sif get her own series too?

As you can probably guess, I’m delighted by this news. I’m not quite so delighted by the boob plate armour in the concept art, since everybody with half a brain can figure out that if you fell on your front wearing that, you’d have a cracked sternum in seconds, but hey, nothing’s perfect, and I guess they’ve gotta keep the dudebros happy.

This announcement shows that Marvel’s writers and artists are aware that their audience wants female characters, and they even mentioned that they’re aware of a large proportion of female readers. It shows that they’re not afraid to do something like this, even though some people on the internet think it’s stupid — mostly men whose comments border on sexist but not explicitly enough that they can get called out on it without them getting defensive.

I also think Thor, as a choice of hero to reinvent in this manner, makes perfect sense in terms of breaking down stereotypes.

Remember my massive essay about gender presentation on Asgard in Thor: The Dark World? Of course you do. That post gets more hits than the rest of my blog put together, I swear. I talked about Sif’s ‘masculine’ armour, and the fact that Thor’s only ‘feminine’ clothing was when he was in a non-fighting capability, aka when he’s not being a superhero. Thor is coded as typically masculine, aggressive — a fighter. Placing a woman in that role is dismantling this idea, and forcing readers to approach it from a different perspective.

I’m still holding out that this’ll open up the possibility of Thor/Sif as lesbians, too, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

It’s great news for comic fans everywhere. Thor’s a really well-known and popular hero, not least because of his major role in the Avengers, and a move like this sets a precedent. If such a beloved character can become female (or be replaced by a female), why shouldn’t others? Moreover, taking a central Marvel character instead of introducing a new and completely unknown one means the experiment is more likely to be a success.

You see, a lot of companies who don’t actually want to write female protagonists tend to relegate them to a corner and not publicise them properly. When the book / game / film doesn’t sell, they blame it on having a woman in a central role, because clearly no one wants that, right? And they’re hard to animate, so maybe we should just not have women even though that in itself is historically inaccurate. But look, we’re not sexist, we already made that game and it didn’t sell! (Because we released it on a tiny platform that no one uses and didn’t tell anyone when we released it properly, but let’s ignore that part: clearly it was the female protagonist.)

Not that I’m directing these comments at Ubisoft or anything. Noooooo. Not at all. /heavy sarcasm

That’s the complete opposite of what Marvel’s doing. They’re taking a famous character who is central to their comics and they’re replacing him with a female version of himself. It can’t be ignored. If it doesn’t sell, then they probably can blame that on the fact that people didn’t like the idea of a female Thor. But honestly, I’ve seen so many people say, “Huh, maybe I should start reading comics,” that I don’t think that’ll be the case.

Honestly, I love this idea. I recently read my first Marvel graphic novel: Neil Gaiman’s 1602, which was utterly hilarious, featuring Sir Nicholas Fury, Peter Parquah, and other historical variations of our favourites. I’ve never been a major comic reader because that didn’t feature in my childhood, and when you don’t grow up with it, it’s pretty intimidating to approach however many decades of Marvel with no idea where to start. Also, comics can be pretty expensive, and the nearest comic store is a forty-minute bus ride away (though the employees were nice when I was in there before).

This announcement makes me want to start reading. I’m happy to give my money, when I’ve actually got some, to a company that recognises the importance of developed and well-written female characters. They deserve my support — and I’d urge any of you who can to take a similar approach. We can change the face of comics and superhero movies by proving that we want a female Thor, that we want female characters generally. We can make this genre, so often male-dominated, into a more equal place.

Put your money where your ideology is. I’m welcoming this female Thor with open arms.

Oh, and female bishops and more women in government’s good too, I guess.

18 thoughts on “Thor Is A Woman (And Other Good News)

  1. I read this article as soon as I received the email.
    There are a few things I want to clarify:

    1. I’m not a big Thor Fan. No, I don’t think I’m a Thor fan at all. I read the first four or five issues of the Marvel Now run because the bindup also contains Young Avengers (which I LOVE), but I don’t really know the characters and the stories.

    2. I’m TOTALLY OKAY with Thor being a woman. I mean, this is amazing. If somebody told me “I want to reinvent the story and the characters you’ve created, but with from a female perspective” I’d be like DO IT. NOW. It’s a great idea to reinvent a story and it offers plenty of originality, and I think I’ll catch up on Thor to see where this is going. Also, aside from the breast plate, she looks so cool.

    3. Apparently, there are going to be two “Thors” in the continuity from now on. I’m not really sure about this, but this is what I’ve gathered:
    – male!Thor isn’t worthy of Mjolnir anymore. Also he lost his left arm. Sorry Thor.
    – Since Thor can’t use Mjolnir, the hammer goes to female!Thor, who then proceeds to become the character. Odin specifically said “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”
    That was a specific spell. It’s a thing, guys.

    4. People keep saying “Thor is not a mask, he is not an archetype, he’s a specific person; Guys, the Thor you’ve known and loved will still be alive. He will not have Mjolnir or his arm, but it’s still him. You will read about him in the new run of the Avengers comic.

    5. Here is a list of people who became worthy of the power of Thor through Mjolnir:
    You can all stop complaining now.

    6. The comic may suck. I mean, people have been telling me Jason Aaron is a terrific writer, but no story is ever perfect, and we can’t be certain it will be as good as we hope.
    BUT the point is, if it sucks it’s not going to be cause of Thor’s gender. If a female character is well-written, her being a woman CAN’T impact the story in a negative way. It really doesn’t make sense.

    7. Miriam, there is a Sif run! :D it’s called “Journey Into Mystery Featuring Sif” and it has TWO volumes! I haven’t read it, so I can’t tell you about it, but you may want to check that out.

    With that being sad, I’m going to keep minding my business and be excited about this. Heck, I’m going to start a MaraThor so I can catch up on it. After all, I own 14 volumes!
    Great article, Miriam. I may also try and write my own :)

    1. To be honest, there will never be enough Sif. She should get her own TV show. But I may check that out, when I figure out a logical and convenient place to buy comics. :)

      Thanks for your comment. Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of those concerns raised, but I do get a little bit baffled … I mean, it’s a comic, they do all sorts of things. Several characters are always getting killed off and resurrected (erm, Jean Grey?); other characters change gender regularly … it’s not like this is the first time it’s happened!

  2. I wholeheartedly approve of any barrier to people who happen to be female becoming politicians or even Cabinet Ministers.

    However, I am concerned by the potential stunt nature of Cameron PM’s reshuffle. If they were the best candidates for the jobs, why weren’t they appointed sooner; if they weren’t then setting them up to fail does no-one any good.

    1. I’m hoping you meant “disapprove” in that first paragraph!

      I’m particularly disappointed by the fact that somebody who voted against marriage equality has become the minister for equality — although the responsibility for same-sex marriage etc has been given to someone else. I mean, what part of “equality” don’t they understand?

      (I’m glad Gove’s gone, but I can’t help but think they’re trying to get us to ask for him back…)

      I definitely think it’s not the best move — there was an article in the Guardian basically summarising what you just said there — but its sole benefit is that it shows they’re at least aware that the government needs fewer privately educated middle-aged white men, and more variety of ministers. Which is … progress, I guess? :/

      1. I do mean ‘disapprove’. Blasted laggy keyboard.

        While I definitely want a more representative Cabinet, I hope this is seen as the stunt it is. Otherwise, the first reshuffle after the next election will be back to business as usual.

        If the issue stays live we might actually get a government that believes in equality, instead of one that believes the electorate can be fooled by a thin veneer.

        1. We can dream, right? Personally I think it’s pretty telling that Green were the only ones even to mention gender and LGBTQ issues in their election pamphlets for the local and European elections in May… It seems pretty far from the minds of everyone else.

          Despite this not being a political post it prompted a political comment thread – how did that happen? O.o

  3. Wahey for Lady Thor!

    To be honest, the thing I’m looking forward to most is the point this can prove – that a character can still be a great chracter, whatever gender you happen to make them. People love Thor because he’s Thor – loyal, ass-kicking, powerful etc. Not neccessarily because he happens to be a dude while he does all this. So long as Thor remains the character people love, regardless of physical changes, it will prove a wonderful point about female characters, that you can love them just as much as male ones so long as they have engaging personalities.

    That said, I still think we need more original female characters, in comics and elsewhere. Genderbends are great and all, but when was the last time we saw a female superhero who WASN’T a female variant of an already established male character?

    1. Oh, she’s not gonna be called Lady Thor – just Thor. Marvel were very clear about that. :)

      And yeah new characters are important but like I said, they can easily be overlooked. Thor will never be anything but central to Marvel comics and can’t be ignored.

  4. I’m honestly a little confused. Thor becoming a woman? So is he trans, or a completely new character with the same persona, or a different side of Thor, or something else?

    I guess I’m not familiar with gender changes in comics so this is new to me. But I’m interested to see how similar the new Thor will be and what changes there’ll be. It’s a fascinating idea.

    1. If you click through to the articles, they’ll explain. Basically Thor becomes unworthy of the hammer which holds his power and so he stops being Thor and that honour goes to someone else, who takes his place and becomes Thor…and happens to be female. We don’t yet know who that woman is before she takes Mjolnir or what her connection to Asgard etc is.

  5. Ahaha, I cracked up at the bit about “yes, but they’re still Tories though, aren’t they?” When I was in DC our chaperones were all like WHOO THERE ARE MORE WOMEN IN THE HOUSE AND SENATE THAN EVER BEFORE and I was like yes but they’re all Republicans and basically I am now screwed because they don’t support women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights. *le sigh*

    And yay for female bishops!

    YAY FOR FEMALE!THOR! I really like him – I’m still kind of iffy about his movie, but the character? He’s great. Although I’m wincing at the boob plate armor too. xD

  6. Huh. That is pretty darn interesting. I’m curious how my comic book loving friends will feel about this. My only reference point is the movies, and after having a Chris Helmsworth idea of who Thor is, I do find it a little mind bending to go to a female Thor, but I know that comic books do make the weirdest leaps sometimes (between series, I think; I’m not an expert by any means), so I’d think comic book fans might find this a little less odd.

    As you point out, I’m glad they’re giving this female character a real shot with such an established series. Very curious to see how it’ll all turn out.

    1. With any of the comics it’s a bit of a challenge to completely separate them from your mental image based on the movies, I think. But it’s possible. :)

  7. Ok, I said this once and will again. Why isn’t there a Valkyrie comic book? If Marvel truly wants to add more women into their mix then why not Valkyries? They’re awesome and have wings. Honestly, I’m glad that Thor’s a woman. I would like to point out that thor is his name, and he is Odin’s son, so it doesn’t work like that. I’m guessing his hammer chooses to give her powers after something happens to him. Marvel shame on you for not making a Valkyrie comic!

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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