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I’m Not Impressed by The New Thor and Captain America

 

new cap image

 

Thor is a woman and Captain America is Black–and?

There has been a lot of exciting news from Marvel comics recently. First off there was the announcement that Thor would be a woman in the upcoming series. Then shortly after, we found out that The Falcon (Sam Wilson) would be replacing Steve Rogers as Captain America. The announcements were both made on popular television programs (The View and The Colbert Report), two unusual platforms for comic book news, but telling of how mainstream Marvel films have made the fandom. I’ve seen positive and negative responses to the news but my reaction mainly consisted of: “And?”

new thor image

I want to preface this by saying that I haven’t read the Thor or Captain America comics. I’m a huge fan of the characters in the movies, cartoons, other comics and I like to glean as much knowledge as I can about them. On the surface the news looks great. However, there are a few reasons that the new Thor and Captain America just don’t impress me:

These Are Temporary Story Arcs

While I haven’t read Thor or Captain America in particular, I have read a few other comic books and I know how they generally work. Generally speaking, absolutely nothing sticks. Even Superman (DC Comics) broke death. Therefore the new female Thor and black Captain America can take up the mantle for now, but how long will it really last? Steve Rogers is aged into his 90s, the male Thor is depowered and mortal. Even if it takes months or years, Marvel will eventually bring the original heroes back to status quo. The stand in characters will not be the ones to own the series.

It’s Not Groundbreaking

Storm Thor image

There have been black Captain Americas before. Other women (like Storm) have picked up Mjolnir. The only difference here is probably that this mystery woman is going to go by the name of Thor (oddly that could take away from her identity as she’s usurped into Thor) and the new black Captain America will appear in an ongoing series. None of this is really anything that hasn’t happened before but now Marvel can sell it as such to the media.

A Stunt To Shake Up Comics

Marvel said they wanted to “shoot life back into the Thor comics”. Well, introduce a female Thor–something potentially controversial that they can build up some hype around–and it’s a win-win. On the other hand, current Captain America writer Rick Remender isn’t the most reliable of comic book authors. He has a history of problematic story-lines  having most recently put Falcon himself in a controversial situation. That does not make me feel hopeful for what Remender has in store for him as Cap. I don’t think it’s lost on Marvel that Anthony Mackie made Falcon a popular character in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Why haven’t they opted instead to give Falcon a standalone comic?

Not Translating To Film

Mackie image

Comics are wonderful and niche (and expensive), but what’s pushed superheroes into the mainstream? What’s the fastest way to reach the widest audience? Movies. Marvel studios –partner with Marvel comics–has no intention of changing Captain America, Chris Evans, or Thor, Chris Hemsworth, anytime soon. As previously mentioned, Anthony Mackie was well received as The Falcon, but he’s not getting a chance to put on the Cap costume and lead a film. The progressive attitude of the comics has not crossed over well into the movies so far. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is popular and brand new and doesn’t have years of unbalanced portrayal to catch up on…yet.

Marvel is clearly making a push towards the mainstream and progression, and I’m happy about that, but I think they kind of missed the point on this one. The announcements and the surrounding media hype were a way to get people talking, but they’re shallow gestures. It would be impressive to see diverse new characters genuinely have their chance to shine in both the comics and other media.

 

  • JDS

    With all due respect, I think this argument is a bit shallow.

    Regarding your first point, of these being temporary story arcs… of course! It’s (mainstream) comics!* As you illustrated in your next point, these kinds of things have happened before. Given that ebb and flow, I don’t really see why tried and true tropes would be an issue so long as the story is compelling overall.

    For a character like Falcon in particular, I see his new digs as like Dick Grayson becoming Batman. It makes sense, and there is a lot of story to be mined there. Which is hard to come by for characters that have been around for decades.

    I wish Falcon was popular enough to have his own comic, and maybe a “Captain America and The Falcon” title would have been the more savvy choice; but they even put Spiderman in the (amazing & full of black heroes) Mighty Avengers title and from my knowledge, that book still doesn’t have the popularity it probably should have.

    And look, ultimately, this is about catching NEW READERS. Marvel is resorting to what *we* may view as hollow gestures, but they catch the attention of all the potential new readers who make their way into comic shops based off seeing the films. The company has mounds of attention focused on it and, as should be expected, is making moves that will attract those readers, and are directly in line with the synergy playbook that they have been following for the past few years now.

    How cynical and calculating Marvel is being about that is debatable, but you can’t blame a m’fer for at least executing the gambit. And if that makes more people wander into brick-and-mortars, raise their consciousness about characters like Falcon, or open their minds to the thought of an A-List black and/or female hero, then all the better.

    I think what matters most here is the follow-through. Making sure to establish talented teams to write and pencil these stories so that these characters can add defining moments to their ongoing legacies is crucial. It’s important in making the transition back into the inevitable “standard” status quo in that a character like Sam Wilson *doesn’t* just fade back into obscurity.

    Just let them tell their story. We can all bite them in the ass later if they don’t treat these changes seriously.

    But fuck all that… Where’s my Black Panther movie, yo?!??!!!

    * I think it’s silly to continually rag on the the big 2 for sticking to their guns. There are reasons a lot of these characters still resonate so long after their creation, and at this point, either accept that changes will never be permanent and enjoy the stories; or stop reading.

    • DJ BenHaMeen

      I agree with a lot of your comments especially your wrap up, but at the same time as with anything if people stay silent and don’t question the choices big corporations make where does that leave us? Like you said it is about the follow through and this is also why most of the titles I buy these days are independent. Big up to Mighty Avengers though.

    • Ayesha Elaine

      Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment. You make some great points. I definitely agree that we have to wait and see where this all goes; it’s all speculation right now.

      However, I really don’t see why Falcon isn’t popular enough to have his own comic. As you mentioned they are trying to bring in new readers and I’m sure they’ll be aware of him through CA:TWS and they can build from there. I’m a big fan of Miles Morales and Kamala Khan but I like that they were given their own books at least initially. I love what Marvel’s trying to do but the hype of these gestures did not seem warranted and I wish it would crossover. As DJ BenHaMeen said, I think it’s important to question the corporations even if it seems like a lost cause.