I don’t want to discount the importance of Marvel choosing to reimagine Thor as a woman for a new comic book run. It’s important that kids—any kid—looks at the characters we deem heroic and see themselves reflected back, and Marvel Comics has been diligent about diversifying their superheroes over the years. The Ultimates’ version of Spider-Man was Miles Morales, a black Latino kid, there’s an openly gay X-Man (Northstar), and the new Ms. Marvel is a terrifically written teenaged Muslim girl, Kamala Khan. It’s a great landscape for any kid reading comics, inclusionary and encouraging that anyone can be a hero.
On Monday Marvel tweeted that a big announcement would be made on The View on Tuesday, and because Comic-Con is next week and we’re all itching for new updates about the Marvel Cinematic Universe and because The View is on ABC which is owned by Marvel Studios’ parent company Disney, most everyone assumed the announcement would be about Thor 3, which to date has not been officially announced. And then yesterday the big announcement came that Marvel Comics would be introducing a new, female Thor.
Again, good look for the comics. But this raises some questions. First, why announce this on The View? Granted, back in 2012 The View also announced that Northstar would be marrying his boyfriend in the comics—but what is the cross-over between The View audience and comic book readers? It can’t be a significant number, but Marvel wouldn’t know anyway because they don’t do market research in this area. Which is the whole problem, I guess. They don’t even care to find out for sure that their female audience exists, even though they admit to seeing them around conventions. As far as they’re concerned, The View = ladies, and whether or not The View audience and their female readers are even the same group doesn’t seem to occur to them at all.
And this brings us to the second, bigger problem. THERE IS STILL NO SUPERHEROINE MOVIE. I love comic books but let’s be real—the audience for comic books is miniscule compared to the audience for a Marvel movie. Tens of millions of people see the movies, a few hundred thousand buy comics. It’s not even a competition. Choosing The View as the outlet for a major announcement made people think that maybe a Captain Marvel film was in the offing, but haha, no ladies, you’re not getting a movie any time soon.
Marvel Studios has done well with female characters as side-kicks and love interests, but when it comes to making them the protagonist, they seem singularly determined to ignore the possibility. Sure, Kevin Feige will talk about a Black Widow move every now again, but like using The View for a “major” announcement it turns out only a few people will really care about, it’s more about placating than any actual effort. Meanwhile, Marvel Comics has the brass to remake one of their marquee characters as a woman. If only Marvel Studios would demonstrate the same resolve and finally give us a superheroine movie.