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Thursday, July 17, 2014 

Marvel staff tries - but fails - to explain why replace Thor with a woman using same name

Time interviewed the editors and writer for Thor about why they're replacing him with a woman:
TIME: Why make Thor a woman instead of creating a whole new female character in the series?

Wil Moss, Marvel Comics editor of the upcoming Thor series: We can’t give away all the story details now obviously, but once the story is out there, it becomes clear why there’s a new female Thor. It’s not about filling a certain quota. It’s about providing a shot in the arm to the Thor titles definitely, but it’s something that’s a natural part of where this story and the Thor title is going.
With no more coherency or continuity, it'll be anything but "natural". And by giving a shot in the arm, what they really mean is a stunt to boost sales, that's all. The reason they won't spotlight a different character in her own role is because that's not good enough for them, and at this point, they've made it exceedingly hard to appreciate if they did, because of the writing quality, which wavers between so-so and plain awful.
TIME: Has there ever been a female Thor before?

Moss: There have been occasional alternate universe stories where there have been female Thors. And there have been occasional stories where a female has picked up the hammer; like there’s an X-Men story where Storm picked up the hammer. But there’s never been a female Thor.

Axel Alonso, Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief: She wields the hammer because Thor can’t. This is different because for reasons we can’t disclose quite yet, Thor is unable to pick up the hammer. There are a number of women in Thor’s life, and we’re going to tease out for quite awhile the identity of who this woman is. But one of the women in Thor’s life picks up the hammer. She is in fact worthy. And she becomes Thor.

There’s only one Thor in the Marvel Universe. The character we know as Thor will not refer to himself as Thor anymore.
Ah, I can guess now. It's Valkyrie who'll take over Thor's role, since, unlike Sif in the MCU, she does have blond hair. Or it could be.
TIME: How do you think this will impact fans who have been following the male version of Thor for such a long time?

Jason Aaron, writer of the Thor series: If you’re a long-time Thor fan you know there’s kind of a tradition from time to time of somebody else picking up that hammer. Beta Ray Bill was a horse-faced alien guy who picked up the hammer. At one point Thor was a frog. So I think if we can accept Thor as a frog and a horse-faced alien, we should be able to accept a woman being able to pick up that hammer and wield it for a while, which surprisingly we’ve never really seen before.

Alonso: There really is this one Thor for an extended period of time for which we have no real exit plan.

Moss: The male Thor—he’s still going to be around. He’s still a character.

Aaron: I’ve been writing Thor: God of Thunder for about 25 issues now. This is in some ways a continuation of everything that I’ve been doing on that. We’re not throwing out everything that’s come before.
But they have thrown everything out. At least a decade ago, with bathwater. Avengers: Disassembled was the last straw. Sure, we could accept a woman using the Uru hammer, but that was a long time ago, and it passed since. Besides, I don't think Beta Ray Bill ever replaced Thor per se, and Eric Masterson didn't either; he just served as a human host.
TIME: There are a lot of female comic fans who are excited about this because they always love to see characters and superheroes who look like them. Is Marvel conscious of trying to engage with its female readership more?

Alonso: Yes, we absolutely are. We see fans of all shapes and sizes and genders in comic stores and at conventions. And we perceived there to be a real thirst for characters that reflect what we see in the mirror. From Miles Morales, the African-American Spider-Man, to the new female Thor, our goal is to make our characters reflect the outside world.

Right now we have eight titles that are anchored by female leads where it’s that character’s name on the masthead. We’re definitely committed to growing that audience.
Well good luck with that, because judging from sales, they haven't. I think both magazine and editor are insulting the intellect of the female audience, acting like they're not interested in quality writing, but in adding a female lead at all costs.

Time also wrote a piece by somebody who thinks changing the star to a woman makes sense:
Thor, in the Marvel Universe, isn’t just a character: He’s also an intangible idea. And Thor’s power, which most notably includes the ability to summon up lightning to layeth the smacketh-downeth upon his foes, isn’t really embedded inside him, per se. It’s in his hammer, Mjolnir — to mix comic book universe metaphors, he’s more like Green Lantern, who derives his power from a ring that’s charged by a lantern that’s charged by a planet.
Oh that's it? I'm afraid this is ridiculous for more than one reason: in the Norse mythology, it is a male deity who was conceived in remote times, and the son of a prominent one named Odin. That's where there's a difference between Thor and GL, because the GL Corps by contrast was something that came up more in modern times, developed by aliens combining technology and magic to create energy construct weapons. And while replacing one GL on Earth with another is not a bad idea in itself, they fail to consider that doing it as a publicity stunt that doesn't come clean about who's going to be the replacement and acting as though it's the boldest, most awesome idea regardless of scripting quality. Only if the writing effort is convincingly good will it count as bold for real. Which was definitely not the case back when Emerald Twilight was published. At the end of the article, they say:
Of course, a female Thor won’t really address another problem facing the comic book world: The lack of original, well-advertised female superheroes, particularly at the movies. None of the upcoming DC or Marvel films, for example, feature a woman — no Wonder Woman from DC, no Black Widow flick from Marvel. The best we’ve gotten so far are Elektra and Catwoman, both total flops. Both companies will need more than a female version of a top character to fix that issue.
Do they realize the Elektra and Catwoman movies were duds because the writing was terrible? Granted, they have a point about the lack of original heroines, but that's because they won't sell them as their own protagonists and ask the public to judge the results on their own terms. Nor will they make a serious advertising effort. They're also wrong about no Wonder Woman making an appearance in a movie; Gal Gadot is supposed to play WW in the Batman vs. Superman film in production. But unless the screenplay turns out to be enjoyable, it could all be a botch. And even then, as said before, David Goyer's given less reason to look forward to what they have in store.

To make matters worse, former Marvel editor Danny Fingeroth actually agrees with their current MO, and says:
...the challenge for comics is how to retain the existing audience and also grow new readers. How do you keep the attention of someone who has read thousands of stories and also take advantage of the visibility and familiarity that the movies and TV shows have brought to the characters? (Interestingly, in recent years, more girls and women have started reading superhero comics again, perhaps lured to the comics by the popular movies and TV series.)

One of the answers is to make seemingly radical changes in a character, such as having Thor become a female (or to have a black man become Captain America). The Internet buzz indicates that as many fans are outraged by the gender switch as there are those who are intrigued. And the very fact that The View and many other media outlets that generally don’t cover comics have picked up the story means that people who may have forgotten about comic books, or who never knew much about them to begin with, now know that to read about how Thor becomes a woman, they will have to go to a brick-and-mortar or online comic book store in order to find out the inside scoop.

So Marvel’s comics division—the source of the much-better-known media versions of the characters—has scored a major publicity coup. Outraged longtime Thor readers—and many lapsed ones—will buy the comic to see if their worst fears or best hopes for the storyline will come true. New readers, who otherwise would never have ventured into a comics shop, will go out of their way to find the issue, and may be induced to try some other comics they find there, as well. Thor comics sales will temporarily rise, and perhaps some of the sales increase will become permanent if readers enjoy what’s in the comic’s pages.

Now the cynics among you may say, “By the time Avengers: Age of Ultron opens in May 2015, starring hunky Chris Hemsworth as Thor, the comics will no doubt have Thor back to being a guy so that the comics and movies are in sync.” That may well be true. But by that time, the female Thor will be established as part of Marvel’s pantheon of heroes and—“if she be worthy” (to paraphrase the inscription on Thor’s hammer)—may one day have her own movie, TV series, video game and lunchbox. So in the end, Marvel and its followers will have one more—hopefully—cool character.
The only way she'd be worthy is if the writing is the same, and that hasn't been the case in a long time. Fingeroth's claim more women are reading superhero comics now is also disputable given the low sales figures, and he should consider that women have opinions too, judging whether a book has excellently or badly written. And why does he risk insulting the audience by implying they're "outraged"? Disappointed is more like it, because changing race and gender alone doesn't signal good writing, and only suggests they're trying to boost sales with gimmicks. He doesn't seem to understand that visual gimmicks instead of character drama is just the problem with today's marketing, and how does he know old and new people will go out of their way to find a comics store to check out the quality level? Most of these gimmicks have gotten moldly-oldy pretty fast. Yet he's right that sale jumps are bound to be brief. In fact, that's been the case for years now, as it was with the company wide crossovers. What they're really doing is taking advantage of readers, hoping they'll be addicted enough to buy the books regardless and by doing so legitimize their dismal efforts. And that's something today's audience has to quit doing, not just because of the increasing prices, but also because the publishers are going to laugh behind their backs, all the way to the bank.

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Predictions in declining order of likelihood:

- The female Thor and Sam Wilson as Cap will be undone by May 1, 2015.

- The next "heroes in blackface" incident will be bringing over Miles Morales to Earth 616 to be Spiderman.

- They will also have Tony Stark decide he's gay for the "diversity"... um, quadfecta.

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