Thor: Gender equality gets the super heroine makeover
Super heroines have been gracing the pages of comic books and graphic novels for ages, but with the release of Thor #1 by Marvel, readers are being welcomed into the birth of a new and exciting chapter in comic book history that brings gender equality into the spotlight.
Female variations of the Thor character have been presented throughout history. Through various what-if scenarios, multiple universe situations and crossover specials we have seen the likes of Thor Girl, Rogue as Thor and even Wonder Woman once held the powerful hammer of Thor in a Marvel versus DC special. With this new incarnation, something seems more meaningful.
In a time where both men and women are energizing a base calling for gender equality, the artists and writers of Thor have stepped forward to present a heroine who is touted as “worthy” of Thor’s mantle. In fact, she is so worthy that her name is Thor. That’s right, we’re not calling her Princess Thor, Queen Thor, Thorina or Thor Girl. She IS Thor.
I believe one the most striking features of Thor is that she has not been turned into eye candy like so many heroines before her. Don’t get me wrong, as a male and comic book reader I love the iconic look of characters such as Wonder Woman, Storm, Rogue and others, but there’s something refreshing about Thor dawning a mantle that not only resembles that of her male counterpart, but also is a bit more modest compared to other female characters. Instead of appearing as if she will burst at the seams, she’s battle ready.
What really resonates with me is that throughout his tenure on the Thor story line, Jason Aaron has maintained a laser focus on the aspect of the worthiness of his characters.
“I’ve always written him as a god who wakes up everyday and looks at that hammer and doesn’t know if he’s gonna be able to pick it up,” said Aaron.
Aaron then proceeded to flip the comic universe on its head by presenting a female, lead protagonist worthy of taking on the weapon, powers and responsibility of Thor. It’s a sound and simple message that’s refreshing. As a male writer in an industry that caters to many male fans, Aaron is leading the charge in gender equality. The message that a modest and worthy, female super heroine sends to male and female adults and children alike is key to moving forward.
Aaron has evolved a character that girls, such as my daughter, can be proud to imitate, replicate or look up to. Let me make this clear, I am not saying that Thor needed to become a female to resonate with women. What I am trying to convey is that sometimes girls (or at least my daughter and nieces) or women, like to see a strong, respectable, female character. Prior to the creation of this story, I would have been just as proud if my daughter wanted to dress as Thor for Halloween. Yet now, she doesn’t have to settle with being viewed as strange or not feminine enough for turning down that Queen Elsa costume. Aaron has aligned this character perfectly with the foundation of initiatives like the HeForShe movement and that mean’s every time I take my daughter to the comic store the owners wont rush to cover up that Wonder Woman comic and hand her a My Little Pony book.
“I want men to take up this mantle so that their daughters, sisters, and mothers can be free from prejudice, but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too, reclaim those parts of themselves they abandoned, and in doing so, be a more true and complete version of themselves.” – Emma Watson, HeForShe speech.
The Thor title has now been presented with the opportunity to do both of these things. Male readers will get to experience a vulnerable, male hero in Thor who has now lost his power and is unable to wield his weapon. He must learn about and adapt to the
fact that a female has now taken his place. I’m sure throughout the story she will encounter prejudice from friend and foe alike and Aaron has every opportunity to show that she is just as qualified as her male predecessor.
So here’s to hoping this path stays on course. Some will say, “it’s only a comic book.” Others will agree that it is a step in the right direction. I am more than excited to support a change for the better. To the naysayers, I invite you to cast your doubts aside. Read the material knowing that the artists, writers and (some) fans respect the cannon material. Understand the implications of only presenting our sisters, wives, daughters, nieces and friends with female heroines who wear tight leather outfits or who are drawn with an overly large bust line.
There’s a new Thor in town. She’s strong, she’s respectable and she’s worthy. Most of all, she’s equal and she is here to stay.
For more information on gender equality and the HeForShe solidarity movement, visit www.heforshe.org
Thor #1 went on sale October 1st. Images courtesy Marvel Entertainment.