We live in an age where information is readily available on the internet. Information that isn’t always necessarily correct, but when picked up by the right sources can spread like wildfire and cause a lot of people to jump to conclusions that aren’t strictly true. We also live in an age where “geek culture” is the latest fashion trend and is garnering more media attention that it (probably) deserves.
This can be attributed to a few things; Marvel have done very well for themselves in creating a movie universe that is easily accessible and appealing to the mass market, as opposed to the more ‘niche’ demographic that their comics appeal to. There is also the fact that it is becoming cool to be more open about your ‘dirty little secrets’ such as playing board games, reading comics or (the most widely used) playing computer games. This has created a culture that, while more open to such things than ever before, still relies on mass media for their information on these subjects.
Most recently, this caused a problem with the word coming out of Marvel’s head office that Thor was going to become a woman. Not in a transgender way, not in a trickser Loki-esque way, not in an alternate reality. Thor is going to now be female. This was released through major news outlets and reported on by what seemed to be everyone on the planet, leaving many confused and exclaiming “how Marvel could do this? It goes against the whole character! I mean, how are they going to recast Thor in the Avengers Films?!” and “This is just Marvel trying to have more female leads! Why did they cop out and use Thor when Sif or Valkerie would make more sense?” and so on, and so on. Jason Aaron (writer of the series) was quick to try and explain the change, clarifying that this is going to be the Thor; no tricks, no strings, it just is. A little digging though and it would be evident that this isn’t exactly the first time that this has happened.
Before we get to that though, some back story is required. Back when Thor was created in the Marvel Universe, he was a man called Donald Blake who – while trapped with Jane Foster (we’ll get to her) – discovered a big stick, while trying to escape. Blake smashed the stick out of the ground, and was transformed into THOR! It turns out the stick was actually Mjolnir and had been lying in wait for someone who was “worthy”, and if they weren’t then it would be unliftable (yep, that’s going to crop up again soon as well). The way the story goes is that Odin sent Thor to earth in the body of Donald Blake as a lesson in humility, which he learned by having a huff, apparently.
Donald Blake hasn’t been the only Human male to weld Mjolnir though. For a while, Thor resided on Earth and made friends with a man called Erik Masterson. When Thor and Hercules where fighting an enemy, Masterson took a hit meant for Thor, meaning he could finish the battle. With Masterson and Thor being the best of buds, Thor took his dying body to Odin to see if anything could be done. Turns out it could. Yay for plot devices! Thor and Erik were bonded, mind and body, similar to the way he was bonded to Blake, but the two were still separate beings. Things happened, and after a fight with Loki, Erik was granted his own body again and a hammer to call his own, taking on the identity of “Thunderstrike”.
So thats us already at 2 different people that have assumed the mantle of Thor and we haven’t even left earth yet! Yep, that’s right, there’s even been Alien versions of Thor. While on a trip in space, Thor became separated from Mjolnir, who was picked up by Bill, who was an alien. Beta Ray Bill then became a fan favourite, with his familiar Thor look, but was definitely not the Blonde Bombshell we’re used to seeing! Being such a fan favourite, he was gifted his own hammer when AlphaThor made his inevitable return, called “Stormbreaker”.
Then there’s all the alternate versions of the character, there’s been the Earth X version, that was a female, a what if? story where Jane Foster picked up the stick instead and became Thor, Throg…actually, don’t ask about that one.
Not to mention the heroes in the past who have picked up the Hammer and been deemed “Worthy” the two most notable being Storm (hey look, another Female!) and Captain America himself!
So you see, there has been no need for the widespread outrage, unless you honestly believe that this going to stick for the long run. Thor is whatever character you want him to be, and there is more than enough material out there that you can read before AlphaThor’s sudden, but inevitable return (probably just in time for Avengers 2).
Meanwhile, i’m going to be over here, enjoying reading stories written by arguably one of the greatest writers the series has ever had, with a fresh take on the characacter that, while it probably won’t last, is at least something new. Something that the majority of people don’t seem to want. Change is a good thing; if you doesn’t take any risks, then you don’t learn anything new, things would get boring quick, and you’ll be left wondering what could have been if you’d only taken the chance.