What The New Female Thor Might Mean For Female Representation In Comics

by Jason Francis

The Marvel comic universe is about to shake things up again when one of its central characters undergoes a major change. Thor, the champion of Midgard, who has stood as one of the most powerful characters in Marvel will lose his title as the God of Thunder.

Another person — a woman, specifically — will soon wield Mjolnir, the mystical weapon that only the most worthy of individuals can lift.

News of the soon-to-be Goddess of Thunder was revealed yesterday on "The View" and it's a huge deal. This has quickly transformed from just a comic book news story to another opportunity to examine the female position in the industry.

Once the Thor position officially changes, it will mark only the eighth solo female superhero to have her own series. Most heroines are featured in duos or groups, so in that respect, this is significant.

Before we deduce further conclusions, however, I want to give time to air out the news, examine the story quality and see in which direction the comic will move.

Additionally, I want to see how long this new character will exist. Comics are notorious for short-lived, shake-up events and just as you're finally getting used to the change, things find a way to return to "normal."

Marvel is fresh off the Superior Spiderman run. This plot line saw the "death" of Peter Parker and for an entire year after, the role of Spiderman — as well as his physical body — was taken over by his nemesis, Doctor Octopus.

As creative and innovative as this was, Peter returned to set things straight.

Marvel is presently working toward the fall season death of Logan, aka Wolverine. This is a character who has seen many deathly events and I'd bet good money that he'll be back, too.

For many, the exposure to Thor goes no further than light knowledge of the classic Norse mythology tales and the two highly successful Marvel movies. This led to much curiosity regarding the drastic change.

The truth is, for some time now, the present comic storyline has been building toward Thor's fall from grace. This includes the revelation that Thor has a sister... coincidence?

Marvel has also done well syncing the happenings of its comics with the cinematic schedule. What this means is that more than likely, this will be a limited run for the new Thunder God (between now and the next big-screen Thor appearance).

Since "The View" has put the spotlight on the subject, can women ever get an equal representation in the comic world?

The truth is DC and Marvel comics are megabusinesses and create content, for the most part, to satisfy a target market, which is young men. This results in mainly men occupying the lead positions and female depiction often being overly sexualized for male enjoyment.

Granted, the men are super muscular and generically attractive, but this seems to be true more so to portray strength than sex appeal.

In wanting to see more women represented in comics, this Thor announcement also reminds us of another industry trick: taking current characters and suddenly making them female — it doesn't require nearly the same amount of time and energy as introducing a new brand and character.

Within Marvel alone, we've seen lady versions of villains, such as Bullseye, Mr. Sinsiter, Red Skull and Loki.

Hopefully Marvel will move toward more substantial change and balance with this announcement and the recently revealed Storm solo series.

Interestingly enough, Storm has been one of the few other people to temporarily act in the role of Thor. Couple this knowledge with the growing fan requests for Scarlett Johanson's Black Widow to get her own film and maybe, just maybe, we'll have some progress.