We’re lucky enough to be getting three MCU movies this year, even if I was a bit underwhelmed by the first one. The casting news about Thor: Ragnarok had me pretty hyped for this movie, but now that I’ve seen the trailer, I’m only about 40% hype. The remaining 60% is confusion.
You’d think that a comic based on an actual god figure from real-world mythology would be rife with potential for this column, but most of the time The Mighty Thor, which stars the new Jane Foster iteration of the character, doesn’t actually deal with much that could be considered theological in nature. However, the last three or so months’ worth of issues (#15-17, to be specific) have featured a very interesting conflict that gets at a meaty question. What does it mean to be a god? More specifically, does ultimate cosmic power come with a responsibility to one’s worshippers? How ought gods prove their power to their followers? This conflict is addressed through a competition that is both fascinating and horrifying.
Spoilers for the aforementioned issues below the jump.
It’s rare that I admit this, but I was way wrong about Thor.
When it was first announced that the new Thor was to be a lady, my initial reaction was “of all the heroes to genderbend, why pick one that is ‘supposed to be’ a guy?” I worried that it was a publicity stunt and would be set up for failure, setting back future efforts. Then I noticed all the comments about it and how they were almost uniformly of the rabid anti-feminist troll variety. Any time I find myself expressing an opinion shared by the “red pill” types, I immediately reexamine that viewpoint, and I’m so glad I did!
When I started reading The Mighty Thor, I realized not only was I mistaken in my assumption that Thor was a poor choice for a high profile genderbend, but that Thor was in fact the perfect choice. I am glad I was so incredibly wrong because I am excited about the Thor quadrant of the Marvel universe for the first time since I was a kid. Judging by the fact that this run of Mighty Thor has been selling consistently well since its release, I am not alone in that opinion.
Very quickly, about two issues into the first arc, it became clear that not only was the choice to have Thor portrayed by a woman very deliberate, but it was a way to jump right into the midst of the pushback to inclusiveness and hit it squarely in the face with an all-powerful magic hammer. Not only does this series perfectly nail (see what I did there) the fallacy of these arguments against a more diverse base of main characters, it exposes their root: fear at the loss of “straight white male as default”.
Spoilers after the jump.
It seems that when you want to make a woman into a hero, you hurt her first. When you want to make a man into a hero, you hurt… also a woman first. (x)
Vague spoilers for Jessica Jones and a trigger warning for rape throughout this post.
I’ve spent the last week watching Marvel’s Jessica Jones miniseries on Netflix. (I’ve still got a few episodes left, so no spoilers for the finale, please!) While it’s very good, it also seems to buy into a common problem that plagues female characters, especially the hard-boiled/hero types: whether mentally or physically or both, its women have been violated.
Some people argue that humanity’s idea of religion began as a response to the great forces of the unknown. Death is the first and foremost of these; all religions grapple with death in some capacity. Following close behind are the forces of nature. Agrarian peoples from the earliest farmers to modern-day Californians feel the effects of drought. Many respond by praying for rain. Rain has become a powerful symbol in our culture to convey a variety of meanings, but more recently it’s more of a used-and-abused trope that’s lost much of its rich complexity.
In the highly unlikely event that anyone has forgotten the incredibly compromised position our hero found emself in at the end of Agent of Asgard #11, allow me to recap in brief:
- No friends
- Mostly naked
- Tied to a chair
Up to speed? Good. With things looking unusually grim even by Loki’s standards, Evil Future Loki takes the opportunity to regale his captive audience with the story of why he—in all his evil, bitter old man-ness—is Current Loki’s only possible fate. Of course Evil Future Loki is a vicious madman, but under the circumstances, it’s becoming hard to disbelieve him.
For the sake of clarity, I find it prudent to point out that while Current Loki is genderqueer and is referred to using the neutral pronouns ey/em on this blog, Future Loki seems to reject, and even mock, this facet of his past self’s identity, so Future Loki is referred to as he/him.
The soul-crushing downward spiral into madness and despair continues this month in Agent of Asgard #11, both for the reader and for our dashing anti-hero(ine). As if being constantly consumed with guilt and distrusted by most wasn’t stressful enough, Loki’s Big Dark Secret is now public knowledge in Asgard, and if there was ever hope for reconciliation, it’s likely long since gone. Over the course of #11, Loki finds emself completely friendless, then virtually homeless, then mostly naked, gagged, and tied to a chair. It’s a wild ride.
As one of the few comics folks on this blog, I feel I’ve been remiss in my duties. Yes, friends, four issues’ worth of the new lady-led Thor comic have gone out into the world, and here I haven’t written a damn word about them.
Let’s fix that. (Spoilers below for issues #1–4.)
Remember how I told you last month that Agent of Asgard #9 was devastatingly depressing and that it would probably ruin your day? Well I’m beginning to think that maybe you should just curl up under a rock and read only Mameshiba factoids for the rest of your life, because the feels just keep on getting feelier.
The figurative cat is out of the… well, the meat suit, in Agent of Asgard #10. A combination of curious events from the last several issues has left Loki unable to tell lies of any kind, and Thor—by an accident of phrasing—forces Loki to reveal what the reader has known all along: that Old Loki has killed eir reborn child self, taken over its body, and has been living in that stolen body for years now. In doing so, ey has deliberately allowed everyone else to believe that Old Loki was still Kid Loki, the mischievous but good-hearted child whom most people in Asgard had come to accept. Understandably, Thor does not take the news well.
There’s a slow but exciting change occurring in popular media, these days: lots of creators are finally beginning to show female friendships in their works. That’s not to say that there have never been friendships between ladies in the public eye before the last few years—Wicked comes to mind, among other things—but the message seems to finally have gotten out to the world at large. We want more than one lady in things, and we want those ladies to understand each other, not for them to antagonize each other.