No reason for Thor not be female
Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor
Mainstream comics get a bad rap for their representations of women, and rightfully so. But within Marvel’s main Thor series, a woman has assumed the mantle of the Nordic storm god. This a step in the right direction.
The superheroes that receive the most attention are males — Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron Man; the list goes on. Instead of trying to create a new female character or giving Thor a sex change, Thor writer Jason Aaron gave the power-granting hammer to a woman unidentified in the first issue.
Inevitably, there was a deluge of public opinions — readers, movie fans and people who aren’t really involved with comics. Some hated the change and called it a grab for attention. Some loved the idea of a woman stepping in for one of Marvel’s most popular characters. Comment sections across the internet were awash with Thor debate.
Even if this was a ploy to grab the attention of the public, which I don’t believe it is, introducing a woman with the powers of Thor in the main series is a monumental moment.
“You pick up this book and it just says ‘Thor’ on the cover, which features a new female version of Thor,” Aaron said in an interview with Comic Book Resources. “It’s pretty much telling you she’s not She-Thor or Lady Thor. She’s not Thorika. She is Thor. This is the new Thor.”
In the same interview, Aaron said he has wanted to do a story where someone other than Thor, son of Odin, wields the hammer Mjolnir, which has happened before. He doesn’t want it to be a throwaway “what if?” situation. The story arc establishes a new Thor and fits in with the previous Thor: God of Thunder series story that spanned 25 issues.
Oftentimes, female characters like Black Widow, Spider-Woman, Wonder Woman and Batgirl fall to the wayside of their male counterparts. Re-identifying a popular male hero is an important step forward for superhero comics. Too often, female characters act in supporting roles and follow overly-sexualized tropes. I don’t think Aaron’s new Thor is a ploy to show a female body with Mjolnir; it’s a representation of society and how things ought to be.
Men, especially white men, have dominated leadership roles in the U.S. since European explorers started killing off all of the indigenous people. Over time, the gap between white males and everyone else has slowly thinned. And when an incompetent man who has held power for a long time is no longer worthy of that position, he should be replaced by a more capable person, regardless of race, class or gender.
The new Thor is the modern woman. If a male boss gets fired and a female steps up to take on his responsibilities, we don’t call her she-boss or lady boss. She is the boss.
But this isn’t always the case. Within Thor #1 there is also return of Odin, original Thor’s father and leader of the Asgardians. In his stead, the All-Mother Freyja had ruled over Asgard, which Odin expects to take back now that he has returned. Does he deserve that position just because he had it before? No. The more capable being deserves the position.
When seeing that his son cannot wield the hammer that he commissioned for him, Odin is quick to blame Freyja for coddling him: “This is what happens when an All-Mother is in charge of Asgard.” And yet Odin himself cannot lift the hammer with all his godly might.
The power should not go to who it “belongs” to; that idea is as archaic as the established monarchy of the United Kingdom. While they no longer hold any real power, the British monarchy still bases its importance on birth and sex. Princess Anne was the second in succession to Prince Charles after her mother Elizabeth took the crown, but after the birth of two younger brothers, nieces, nephews and a grandnephew, she is now 11th in succession.
Why does eligibility depend on the sex the person is born with? The entire system is so sexist, it’s baffling it still exists in that form. But outside of the monarchy is a world full of sexist individuals who don’t want female bosses or just want to keep their power circle male.
Comic books represent culture, some books better than others. Aaron’s first issue of the new Thor series takes what he has built in the Thor world since 2012 and uses it to represent the role of sex in modern society. While it may not be a depiction of how the world looks now, it’s a depiction of what should happen and what will happen.
You don’t get to wield the hammer just because that’s what everyone told you since you were born. You have to earn it and keep earning it, or else some woman who had to fight twice as hard to get where she is is going to pick it up and take your title. And that’s what should happen.
Kellen Beck is a junior journalism major who hopes to someday be worthy enough to wield Mjolnir. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.