So, let’s get the obvious name problem out of the way, a Black Widow is a deadly spider, but gender is inherent in the name. Still, it’s just a title and could easily be transferred to a guy, even if it would be odd.
The larger issue is this, there is a character behind that name. A character that has had a great deal of time go into the building of who she is, where she comes from, and what makes her tick. She’s pretty darn special. To take away the gender wouldn’t be that big a deal, the comics could still read largely the way they already do (super spy v super spy action.) Even the chemistry of the Avengers would be thrown off only a minute amount (we are talking about a b-roll character here.) There is, however, something disingenuous about betraying the character. I hope you’re all with me in the fact that this post isn’t about Black Widow. It’s also not about Captain America, The Hulk, Hawkeye, Storm, Mystique, or any other Marvel property that goes by a title.
Here’s the problem I have with the way Marvel’s announcement about Thor is being taken. Kitschy promo aside, the internet has run off with the gender bend in a predictable fashion given the current climate of gender politics. The reaction is what I have a problem with, not the announcement itself, and certainly not the situation (either as it stands or the alternatives offered below.) There is an “it’s about damn time” attitude about it. Give this gender bend to any of the title characters I mentioned above, and I wouldn’t even bat an eye at that reaction. Captain America the female super soldier, fine. The Hulk (not She Hulk, but the title of Hulk itself) as a woman, okay. Hawkeye the lady, Storm the Otherkin, Mystique the transgendered hermaphrodite (really not much of a change here, actually.) The point is this, all of these guys are humans wearing a suit and donning a name. This is not the case with Thor. Thor is Thor. There have been times in the past when things have happened to Thor (he’s been a partially disabled physicist, a woman, a frog, etc.) but he’s always still been Thor.
For anyone who didn’t read the announcement, that’s not what’s happening here. I’d be fine with it, actually, if Thor were being altered somehow to be a woman (even if permanent.) Here are some acceptable scenarios in which the “Thor is a woman” moniker would make sense:
- Thor’s consciousness is transferred into a woman upon his death.
- Thor is turned into a woman by some trick of fate (likely Loki’s).
- Thor chooses to become a woman because of a need of Asgard.
- Thor takes the mantel of an amazon out of honor to a fallen comrade.
Instead, Thor is deemed no longer worthy to wield Mjolnir, and another takes his place as the god of thunder. Thor is cast off in disgrace (and is apparently now wielding an axe and sporting a metal arm.) So here’s the kicker, if ‘Thor is a woman,’ then how is Thor still Thor? See, the problem is that a character has been sold out for this (not by Marvel, by the way, which just did a thing they’ve been doing forever, using hyperbole to sell comics.) If Marvel wants to make amazing, Whedonesque female leads, then by all means please do, I want to read about them! Just realize that once you start accepting this type of character abduction (largely by non-fans and people who’d rather just whine about injustice than take Toni Morrison’s advice) for the sake of political correctness, you start loosing actual characters.
Besides, this isn’t going to be a lasting thing. I’m fairly certain it will be the introduction of a good female, Asgardian lead. Hopefully she’ll A-list off the popularity.