“Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”
As it turns out, thanks to a genius in Prairie Village, a “she” will carry it next. Jason Aaron has been writing “Thor: God of Thunder” from his Johnson County home for the past two years and says he’s been building to the moment when the current Thor is no longer worthy of the hammer.
“We have seen aliens and frogs become Thor,” he told me Friday. “It seems like maybe it was time for a woman.”
Other women to wield Thor’s Mjölnir: Wonder Woman, Storm, Rogue. But this is different. As Marvel announced this week, this woman won’t just hold the hefty hammer. This woman will be Thor, not a sidekick, not a She-Thor. Just Thor.
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This does not mean he will disappear — Jason is a huge fan of that character — but it does mean he will lose his powers. In September’s issue No. 25, this mystery woman will make her first appearance. In October, her series will begin.
And, Marvel says, in November we’ll see Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, become Captain America. Per usual, the fanboys are angry. A black Captain America, a female Thor. It’s a lot of change.
“I understand,” Jason says of the backlash. “As comic book fans you read these characters for years and years and you become invested in the characters, the continuity and the history, so you resist something that seems different. As a writer, I am attracted to that thing that is different. This is what we do, we tell the stories of characters that have been around for 60 years. We don’t often get to tell one that hasn’t been done before.”
Anna Perry of Independence, a longtime Thor fan, says she wouldn’t want to lose out on Chris Hemsworth in “Thor” movies — and it’s unclear how the comic book change will affect the future movie universe — but she loves the thought of a woman taking on the power.
“It totally rocks and is a step toward equality,” she says. “Hopefully they’ll portray her as an ass-kicker and they won’t depict her as a sexy character like Wonder Woman.”
Jason says she will not be hypersexualized, but he won’t tell us much else. We’ll have to read it ourselves.
In the case of Captain America, the current Cap, Steve Rogers, has been turned into a 90-year-old weakling in the most recent storyline. Enter Falcon to save the day.
“It’s about time,” Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort told the New York Daily News. “In 2014, this should be a thing that we shrug off. It shouldn’t be seen as revolutionary, but it still feels exciting.”
Adonus Ray of Kansas City, a Captain America fan, says it’s not a big deal having a black man become the hero. Fanboy backlash is dumb, he says. After all, it’s been done before when soldier Isaiah Bradley assumed the role back in 2003.
“Sam was the logical choice for the next Cap,” he says. “I’m a little worried he won’t have the supersoldier serum like Steve Rogers, but he’s a patriot through and through.
“As for a woman Thor, that is a little weird. I wouldn’t mind there being a new wielder of Mjölnir, but to change Thor’s gender is silly. Especially since there are so many great female heroes in the Marvel universe that need more shine — Psylocke, Storm, Blink, Deathstrike, Rogue. But I will still read it.”
Jason says Marvel didn’t set out to make a political statement with female Thor or black Captain America; these are stories that happened organically. But he believes diversity is important.
“For the longest time we were catering to the same group of fans, and I count myself among the midst of those fans,” he says. “I go to the comic book store every Wednesday” when the new issues come out.
“It’s no wonder that the fans are predominantly white males when the heroes are predominantly white males. How do you diversify your fan base? One of the ways is to diversify the creators and the characters you present them with. I think it makes sense to have the Marvel universe reflect the universe we live in.”
We love superheroes not just because of how they look, but because they are selfless, brave, humane and, despite their strength, vulnerable. Sure, they are hot. But what we really aspire to when we are watching Thor or Captain America has little to do with sex and race, and everything to do with humanity. That’s what makes us worthy.