Marvel’s Recent Diversification
by J.D. Cook
I have to start by saying I like change in comic books. Unlike a lot of fans I don’t rage against it. Change keeps characters and stories fresh…except when it’s mandated by head honchos to satisfy a diversity quota. This seems to be the case for the new Captain America and Thor both of whom are suddenly changing ethnicities at the same time.
Now if either Thor or Captain America had passed on their mantels at separate times I don’t think I’d have any issues with it. There have already been a few separate instances in which another person has donned the moniker of Captain America. The same goes for Thor as anyone worthy of his hammer Mjolnir can wield the power of Thor. That said, being able to wield the power of Thor doesn’t actually make a person Thor. Captain America and Superman have both used the hammer on different occasions and they stayed themselves; they just had the added bonus of using his hammer and wielding lighting. Thor was born and named Thor which is what made him Thor. So this new girl who is becoming Thor really can’t claim to be Thor just because she has use of his hammer. That is unless Thor is literally turned into a girl in some kind of gender bending super villainous incident.
All of this said I can’t really get annoyed at these changes until I see how they affect their respective comic titles. I’m not a huge fan of the Thor series to begin with as it has seemed a bit up and down in the issues I’ve read. So maybe that’s why I feel more concerned with that change. One of my favorite writers (Rick Remender) pens Captain America but it’s second arc did not live up to the first despite showing a huge amount of promise early on. I am excited to see Falcon step into the shoes of Captain America as he seems to make sense to me in that role. Although part of me wants him to re-brand himself something along the lines of ‘The Eagle of Justice” since he’s retaining his signature wings (Just Kidding about the name change of course). I do hope they change his costume up a bit more though because I wasn’t in love with the first glimpse. I hope Marvel adds more of a classic Stars and Stripes feel to it
So in closing I think these changes have the potential for good storytelling but they feel forced by Marvel Executives in an effort to drum up press and controversy whilst trying to quiet a small vocal minority that demands more diversification of super heroes. Interestingly the character Falcon was once before used in this capacity as a diversity hire only it was done within a story line that saw a bureaucrat try to add him to the Avengers roster only for the character to leave disgusted with the idea that he was being put on the team for reasons other then his stellar record as a hero. Eventually both Thor and Captain America will return to their roots as the one constant in big comic companies is their love of undoing their own radical changes to restore things to the status quo.
Those of you worried this will affect the movie universe I can say with a good amount of certainty that it probably won’t but I wouldn’t mind seeing Anthony Mackie suiting up as the next Captain America a few films down the line.