As MajorSpoilers reported last week, Marvel is making significant changes to three of their top-tier characters come this November. And this was announced BEFORE San Diego Comic-Con coming this week!
First, Thor is going to be a woman. Second, Captain America’s identity will be taken by the Falcon, then Tony Stark is moving to San Francisco (where Daredevil is already living) to become the Superior Iron Man. (At last report, no sign of Doc Ock taking over his body. The new armor does look like Ultron, so maybe that villain does?)
I’m always intrigued by the timing and location of these kinds of announcements. The View was where Thor’s change was announced, followed by the new Cap on The Colbert Report. Word about Iron Man came out via news release, so it looks like the Mythbusters weren’t available.
Of course, the reaction to all of these was mixed, with some declaring them the best things ever to others being far more skeptical, calling them “stunts.” According to an interview with Marvel’s Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso, none of these changes are “stunts” since they’re not expected to resolve themselves quickly. I’m not sure how he defines “quickly,” but my money’s on at least Cap and Thor being back to “normal” before the third movies of their franchises hit movie theaters, much as Peter Parker came back to being Spidey before Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Steve Rogers returned to slinging his shield before Captain America: The First Avenger debuted. Hey, Tony Stark might beat those two since he’s slated to appear in Avengers: Age of Ultron comes around. We’ll see.
A FEMALE THOR
Marvel wants everyone not to call the female Thor “She-Thor” and such names. Instead, she’ll be the real Thor even though the male version will still be around. He’ll just be unworthy and thus unable to pick up the hammer.
People who listen to my podcast know I’m a huge proponent of women as lead characters. I recently interviewed Ted Naifeh about his great Princess Ugg from Oni Press, for instance, and was happy to promote his book. (You can listen to that chat at this link.)
Let’s be real – Thor is like Superman in that he’s a tough hero to write. When one is that powerful and that moral, there are few conflicts that arise that challenge them. So you have to make a change in the status quo, and that apparently means making one of Thor’s female friends able to pick up and throw Mjolnir.
I’d be more excited about this if we had not seen a woman as Thor previously, such as in Earth X. And I’d also be happier if this woman had a new identity rather than following a male failure. But it’s a woman in a major role in Marvel, so I’m happy to see it happening … until 2016 when the third Thor movie comes.
THE NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA
Coming up with new stories for Cap seems to be just as difficult. I see people saying this is the seventh person to wear the uniform and carry the shield. Steve Rogers also apparently died, but was still alive while Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier took over. And Nomad, anyone?
I feel about this just as I did (and still do) about Miles Morales taking over from Peter Parker in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. The idea sells well when it first happens, but eventually the enthusiasm fizzles out.
I’d still prefer to see Sam Wilson get an upgrade into a more significant identity than take over from (and be directed by) a Steve Rogers who, for now, can’t go into the field due to the loss of the Super Soldier Serum. It reminds me of an older Bruce Wayne guiding Terry McGinness in Batman Beyond. It’s cool and all, but Bruce belongs in the Batsuit as much as Steve should be using the shield. They’re classic characters, and they need to be the subjects of better stories, not changes we know will not make it past the next Marvel Studios/Disney movie featuring him or her.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT SAN FRANCISCO?
The films seem to be doing the best job of portraying Tony Stark rather than the comics. I mean, Tony was turned into a teenager at one point, not to mention the long-lived heart problems that finally, thankfully went away.
Now that he looks more like Ultron, Tony’s going to San Francisco where he’ll likely bump into Matt Murdock, who moved their about a year ago. Tony’s also there apparently to change the culture out there to something more to his liking. That sounds more like something the Pym creation would do, although Tony has been different ever since the Civil War event.
Perhaps Tony wants to be closer to the technology hub near San Francisco. I know Los Angeles/Hollywood has been beaten down a lot in fiction for the last couple of decades, but it’s a much more interesting place to fight bad guys and gals. Just watch Major Crimes and you’ll see why!
THIS ISN’T ONLY A CONCERN AT MARVEL
Last week, I reviewed Robin Rising: Omega #1 in which I greeted Damian’s death near the end of Batman Incorporated with the same skepticism I felt when Dick Grayson took over Batman’s identity. You know Batman will have another Robin at some point, and that’s what’s happening. Also, Bruce Wayne is back as the Dark Knight, something I’m sure only surprised a few readers.
I know that Marvel (and DC, for that matter) are likely to sell more comics until the next movies if they’ve caught the attention of the media and fans who want to see these kinds of changes take place. As I often point out, it’s called show business for a good reason.
I’m just getting somewhat tired of these kinds of changes regardless of just who is making them happen. The male Thor will be back, Sam Wilson will step aside so Steve Rogers can be Cap again, and Tony Stark will be made to see the error of his manipulative ways so he can wear Iron Man armor that looks more like what we’ve seen in the films.
But I like to think that this all really has to do with telling good stories. If the current character shifts provide better reading for fans, then I’m all for them. However, if we read the same situations we’ve seen many times before only with different people facing them, well, I won’t be all that happy. Been there, done that.
I AM glad to see Ant Man, Doctor Strange and Medusa appearing in the new team book Avengers NOW. Perhaps if the original Thor, Cap and Tony Stark come back, this title can continue on while the previous heroes star in a different Avengers book. Hey, it could happen!
Since sales do increase when this kind of thing happens regardless of who does it, I expect this trend to continue for some time to come. It’ll depend on how each situation is handled to see if they are worth the effort and moolah, though!