Those of you who pay attention to this sort of thing will know that this fall, Thor’s hammer Mjolner will be taken up by a woman, who will also take on the name of Thor. Moreover, Steve Rogers is putting down the shield and Sam Wilson, recently introduced to the world at large as Falcon in the 2nd Captain America movie, will be taking it up. Wilson is a black man, not the first to carry the Captain America moniker, but I believe he’s the first person at all to do so as someone Steve chose as his own successor.
Thor’s name is apparently being treated as a title, which I’m pretty cool with. I’m a little confused as to what we’ll be calling Thor himself, since his *name* is Thor and he’s presumably still a god, it’s just that he and Mjolner are on the outs again and it’s apparently decided he’s not worthy, but nevermind that. Marvel’s making statements left and right that the woman taking up Mjolner *is* Thor, and that’s cool and interesting and I, who have never liked comic-book-Thor, might just read that.
Cappy’s name has been passed around several times, and as a newly-fledged (er, no pun intended) Falcon fan, I’m freaking thrilled that Sam Wilson will be the man behind the mask. I am not, apparently, violently attached to the skin color or gender of my superheroes; I *like* the idea of them being flexible.
The only problem is that very little lasts, in superhero comics. Nobody really thinks that OriginalThor will be on the outs with Mjolner forever; everybody knows Steve will carry the shield again.
But what if that didn’t happen? What if they held the line? What if, yeah, maybe Thor does take up Mjolner again, or Steve the shield–but it’s only momentary, filling in for an emergency? What if they were *allowed* to do that, and what if we, as readers–particularly as women or people of color–were given those characters straight-up and for the long haul?
*That* would shake things up. *That* is what I’d really love to see. I’d love to have my cynicism proven wrong and for the status quo to change.
But the thing is, status quo is subjective. Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson got divorced after 20 (real life) years of marriage, because Marvel editors wanted to return Spider-Man to the status quo–nevermind that for an entire generation of readers, Peter and MJ being married *was* the status quo.
The problem was that it wasn’t the status quo for the editors and writers. They had grown up with an unmarried Peter and so that was how it Should Be.
But, y’know, I grew up with an unmarried Peter (and aside from the middling detail that I wanted to marry him myself in my childhood years) and I was terribly disappointed and shocked that they divorced. So I’m hoping–I’m even asking–that Marvel lets these changes stay in place long enough to become the norm.
And then I ask that they have the courage to recognize that for a generation, and for a gender, and for a race, that the status quo is important, and that when they change again–because they will–that they should continue to look forward with those changes, and not back.