I have to admit, I’m rather looking forward to the new Thor. There’re a lot of oddities surrounding the concept, but it’s the comics – it’s not like they paid much attention to the traditional Thor in the first place, so why not alter conventional thinking even further?
Thor (“Þór,” among others, hereafter anglicized because… just because) was the Norse god representing storms, lightning, thunder, wind, healing, fertility, oak trees… although how all of this fits together, I’m not sure. He was red-haired, bearded, with fierce eyes and an awesome temper, deadly to his foes; he was not a caricature, being occasionally bested or otherwise participating in humorous situations.
Of course, Thor is remembered most for Mjöllnir, his hammer.
Marvel took the idea of the Norse Thor, and translated him into an Anglicized view of the ideal Viking warrior: now tall, blonde, blue-eyed, he is a majestic prince of Asgard. He’s also considered one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel mythos, going toe-to-toe with the Incredible Hulk on occasion.
He is generally stronger, when possessing Mjöllnir, and only a little less strong when not – although opinion seems to be that if Thor does everything of which he’s capable, he’d pancake the Hulk. The Hulk. Who took over the world in World War Hulk, against all opposition (not including Thor, who was otherwise occupied with, like, death. His own. Thor got better.)
So: now Marvel says that a new Thor is coming, except this time with a radical change. A new costume? No, no. A gun instead of a hammer? Interesting, but not quite.
Thor is coming to us with a new gender. Thor’s gonna be female.
I’m fascinated. I’ve always seen Marvel has having a sort of id, ego, superego situation: Hulk would be the id, Iron Man or Mr. Fantastic would be the ego, and Thor would be the super-ego.
Put (very) simply, the id is instinct; ego is reason; super-ego mediates between the two. (Honestly: this is too simple to be correct. Just saying. Stop reasoning through my analogies; look closely enough at the details and they’ll fall apart.)
Therefore, the Hulk is rage, uncontrolled (and uncontrollable, for the most part); Tony Stark and Mr. Fantastic are authoritatively intellectual (and the more I think of it, I think Mr. Fantastic is more the ego than Stark is, but Reed Richards is incredibly boring). That leaves Thor as the one who blends strength and reason, controlling both (or, perhaps, using both).
So now we are looking at a female Thor, which is a fascinating idea – not just because of gender underrepresentation, but because of the role she would play in the Marvel universe. It also calls into play the traditional view of females in comics; is she going to be an actual person? Thor had Jane Foster as a human object of attraction (one wonders what Sif would think about this), will the new female Thor have a man in her life? Would she want one?
If so, how, who, and when? Will there be an equivalent partner in the Asgardian pantheon, as Sif is to the male Thor?
How will the new Thor relate? Will she be cold by comparison to the traditional maternal figure? Look at Wonder Woman, for example, who is basically a maternal fighter, a contradiction in views. Will Thor be like that, or will she be caring-but-unaffected, like the male Thor is?
I’m looking forward to the new Thor.