AVENGERS NOW: A BLACK CAPTAIN AMERICA, A FEMALE THOR, A SUPERIOR IRON MAN, AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR MARVEL AND DIVERSITY
On Tuesday morning Whoopi Goldberg and the hosts of The View announced that Marvel will relaunch Thor this October with a female ‘worthy’ brandishing the hammer. Marvel followed that announcement with another high profile switcheroo on Wednesday night as Entertainment Weekly revealed a new-ish and possibly superior Iron Man, and comedian Stephen Colbert joined Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada to announce on The Colbert Report that a new guy is also going to take up Captain America’s shield.
That in itself isn’t much of a surprise — original Cap Steve Rogers has passed on his mantle a few times before before yanking it back. After spending some time in Dimension Z and whatnot, he’s now too old to Avenge from the front lines. The big reveal is that the new Captain America will be Sam Wilson, the African-American superhero currently known as Falcon.
It’s not hard to guess at Marvel’s intentions here. By announcing a female Thor and a black Captain America as a swift one-two punch, the publisher accomplishes two things. First, it shakes up its universe in a way that’s sure to garner attention — as indeed it has. Second, it makes a mission statement.
To the first point; the whole world knows Marvel’s Avengers characters now. That could be a millstone around the publisher’s neck if Marvel put the need to reflect the movies ahead of a need to tell its own stories. Marvel has certainly tried to configure Avengers comics around the on-screen characters, but to no particular success with respect to sales (certainly nothing to indicate that the Avengers are the most popular movie characters in America).
Replacing at least two of its Avengers big three — Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man — suggests Marvel’s commitment to telling its own stories, albeit in a grandstanding, headline-grabbing way. A woman taking the name and role of a male Norse god? A black man representing all of America? These are moves that upset the right people, and that guarantees attention.
Which leads in to the second point. These changes suggest an agenda. I’d call it progressive agenda, but it’s not. Putting women and people of color in key positions isn’t progressive, it’s just evidence that superhero comics are slowly catching up to the present day. It just happens that there’s a strong regressive agenda in our culture that’s resistant to that kind of change.
Marvel’s only motive here may be to stir up controversy and hope it translates to sales, but I think there’s enough evidence in the publisher’s support for books like Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, and Mighty Avengers, that the publisher is sincere in its efforts to reach out to audiences that traditionally haven’t been well-served by superhero comics. There’s always more work to be done, but Marvel’s output feels more inclusive with every passing quarter.
ASK CHRIS #196: HE STOOD ALONE AT GJALLERBRU
By Chris Sims
Q: What is the best redemption scene or storyline in comics? — @yellfeat
A: It’s funny, I was just talking about why there aren’t a whole lot of stories where villains become heroes in the latest episode of Here’s The Thing, and how they almost never work out the way you want them to. That might’ve been my pessimism creeping in, because there are certainly examples of it working really well — one viewer on Twitter mentioned the Pied Piper from Flash — but I blame the wording. A face turn and a redemption aren’t quite the same thing, and if you’re looking for the single best example of the latter, there’s not even a question about which one it is.
Skurge stood alone at Gjallerbru, man. And that was enough.
Thanks to Wal-Mart Canada, fans can finally scope out next year’s Marvel Super Heroes sets from LEGO. In the mix are sets that seem to sit nicely with the upcoming Marvel multimedia slate, including three Ultimate Spider-Man sets, and two Avengers Assemble sets. Sure, they’re technically based on Disney XD’s current two Marvel cartoons, but there’s a prominent Electro minifigure ripe for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie release this summer. Perhaps best of all, though, is the reveal of LEGO MODOK.
Check out the new LEGO x Marvel sets on ComicsAlliance!
By Andy Khouri
Based on the Asgardian war goddess devised by comic book creators Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, Lady Sif emerged from 2011′s Thor motion picture as something of a breakout character, with fans complaining that the charismatic performer Jamie Alexander didn’t get enough screen time and asking that she star in a spinoff of her own. Marvel Studios seems to have listened, with early reports indicating the character’s role has been beefed up in the sequel, Thor: The Dark World. In addition to her typical ass-kicking duties, Sif will supposedly become a romantic rival to whoever that earthling doctor or whatever Natalie Portman plays is. Obviously Lady Sif could win any sort of contest under literally any circumstance, so it’s safe to assume Portman’s character will just, like, go back to wherever they hid her in Avengers and let the third movie be about Sif and Thor punching astro-orcs and making out as space lighting crashes romantically in the distance.