Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)


So I heard about this whole Thor is a woman business. Interesting, I think.

I kind of liked it just a while ago when they had Loki running around in a woman’s body. For me, this had less to do with adding a popular character to the list of female ones (which, granted, is always sorely needed) and more to do with the fact that it just made Loki freaky. Not freaky sexual, freaky like, bizarre, mystical and inhuman. He’s the god of lies so of course he can go so far as to even change genders if he wants to.

See, as far as Thor being a woman, here’s my thoughts on why this is cool: it actually makes Thor more of a superhero.

I mean, I actually like Thor, Loki and all of the Thor-verse being very separate from the rest of the mainstream Marvel universe. It seems like Thor works better when the comic is kind of focused on Asgard or at least that Thor comes from Asgard and that makes him fairly alien. Still, I’m a classicist about these things. The old school Thor was a superhero who transformed. Thor himself wasn’t the character of the comic so much as our hero, Dr. Donald Blake. He sort of infused himself with the power of Thor. So Thor only kind of existed when a character summoned him into themselves I suppose. This was a weird arrangement to be sure and later it seemed like Thor was distinguished as his own being.

But the point is, other people--if worthy--could summon the power of Thor. Beta Ray Bill and that other guy Thunderstrike (a Donald Blake replacement in the 90’s with a big bushy beard if I recall) could do this for example. So if a horse looking alien like Beta Ray Bill can start flying around with a hammer and a helmet on their head, there’s no reason a woman can’t either. That’s what I’m saying I like about this actually. It brings up some fundamental weirdness about Thor and his existence on Earth. It’s sort of like he needs a conduit in order to appear on Earth and Thor ends up being more of a fusion between his essence and the being who summons him. At least, this is all how I’m presuming they’re going to play this thing, but maybe I’m wrong. So if you are going to grab a first-tier character and turn them into a woman, this loophole makes Thor a good candidate for that kind of thing. I’m not really a huge fan of a character taking the same mantle as another superhero, like calling themselves the same name, although this works.

Actually, there is one exception to this rule. I always thought it might be compelling if in some alternate timeline or something Batman was a woman. That is, not that there’s a Batwoman, but that there’s a woman who goes by Batman. And the reason I like this is because Batman has taken on this life of its own. It’s this myth and legend that’s bigger than any one person…even Bruce Wayne. So I like this idea because Batman kind of transcends gender and is this persona that exists beyond the characteristics of the person being Batman. My point is that when you do something like this you need to do it carefully. Not every character is set up to just fork their powers and costume over to someone else. I mean if you woke up tomorrow and a man was Wonder Woman what would you think? (Or maybe there’s a way to make that work? I’m way out of my depth here.)

Anyway, so, I think it’s cool and the reason I think it’s cool is not just because it's a woman, but because it's strange. Bold. And I think Thor is kind of at its best when it is strange and somewhat Shakespearian. These things seem to run in cycles and my suspicion is that ultimately Thor will be back to his "manly" self around the time either Avengers: Age of Ultron or Thor 3 is coming out. You ever notice that? It seems to me that characters kind of get reset to baseline to match their big screen counterparts around the time a feature film is released. Didn’t Peter Parker end up alive and well just around the time Amazing Spider-man 2 hit theaters? Still, there’s no reason they can’t find some way to keep this incarnation of Thor around. I'll be watching this one...

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