I’m going to start off on a tangent with this post. I’ve been reading about the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 which was shot down over Eastern Ukraine, so I’m not exactly in the best frame of mind. This situation is just so enormously depressing… I can’t understand how people can be so evil and live with themselves. Although I’d been thinking about this post all afternoon, I came very close to not going through with it after learning about this tragedy. However, I remembered the primary point of this blog is to counteract all the awful shit that goes on around us and spread at least a little bit of positivity, so that’s what I’m going to do.
Marvel’s The Avengers was a worldwide box office hit, and drew in millions of viewers, even those, like me, who aren’t necessarily fans of the original comics. The sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron is scheduled to hit theatres in 2015 and will undoubtedly be another blockbuster, set to star the same cast from 2012’s The Avengers.
However, in the comic book world, big chances are occurring with a couple of these huge Avengers. Later this year, Marvel Comics is set to release a project entitled Avengers: NOW, in which a couple of mind-blowing alterations have been reported in relation to the characters Thor and Captain America.
October will bring about a complete shakeup in the Thor-niverse. For the first time in forever, the God of Thunder will be seen as the Goddess of Thunder. Though no details have yet been revealed about this character, it is important to realise that she is not a remake of Thor Girl, who was written as an ally and not a replacement to the real Thor. According to writer Jason Aaron, “This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.”
In November, Marvel Comics releases All-New Captain America: #1. In this new series, the well-known and beloved Steve Rogers will no longer be the super soldier beneath the patriotic red, white and blue. Instead, that role will be taken up by Sam Wilson, also known as the Falcon. As if that weren’t sufficiently mind-blowing, an even more notable detail is the fact that Sam Wilson is a black character. That’s right people, Captain America will now be featured as an African American superhero.
While many die-hard, hardcore fanboys may be upset by these new developments, I’d like to point out what an amazing move that this is, and its message is far more profound than the fictional world of Marvel. This major change of such iconic characters is a direct commentary on shifting perceptions of social and societal dynamics.
In the original comics, both characters were powerful, fearless heroes who saved countless innocent lives from doers of evil, rightly reaping adoration and admiration. It is important to note that they were both also blonde, white males. This was a very logical decision on the part of the Marvel artists and storywriters, as, for a very long time, the straight white male (particularly those with blond hair and blue eyes) was the ideal of socio-political stature and, consequently, respect and power. Why would these superheroes, even though they were fictional, not represent this ideal?
Although this all-powerful image of the straight, white male still permeates very many sectors of our society, attitudes and mentalities have changed in recent times with regards to the qualities which most demands respect and power. Despite the fact that still a lot can be done in terms of achieving social equality, huge barriers have been overcome in gender and racial discrimination, and these new comics reflect that revolution. Thor, who is an actual god, and the only being powerful enough to wield the hammer, Mjölnir, is now virtually being said to not necessarily be needed to be a muscular, chiselled-face man; there is nothing preventing a mythical goddess from wielding such power. Similarly, Captain America, who is literally the superhero face of America is now no longer an all-American white, blue-eyed blond. Instead, the writers are arguing that a black man, is just as capable of donning the uniform of stars and stripes, and protecting everyone as efficiently as Steve Rogers did.
There is a changing face of America, and new generations of Americans are being exposed to this reality in a way that is not only entertaining to them, but relatable as well. Before the Conservatives come in arguing that the comic book left is pushing a liberal agenda, and that Jesus would only have allowed a white Captain America to save him before he only dined at the table of the gods with a male Thor, I’d just quickly like to say how impressed I am with this move on Marvel’s part. Progress and equality are beautiful things, and it is wonderful that even comic book writers are celebrating this in monumental ways.
Pic Via Entertainment Weekly