Tag Archives: Thor

Are the Movies Changing Marvel Comics?

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The above picture represents what the Avengers may look like starting this fall.  It’s pretty different from what we’re used to.  It’s been making news all over the place, especially the changes to Captain America and Thor.  Change to the characters in comics is nothing new.  It’s been happening for generations.  In fact, this isn’t even the first time that someone else has taken up the Captain America and Thor identities.  This time seems different, though.  These heroes have never been in the mainstream spotlight as much as they are right now.  The Avengers are THE cash cow right now, not just for Marvel but for their parent company, Disney.  Avengers 2 is already shaping up to be an even bigger hit than the first Avengers movie, if that’s possible.  So, it seems strange to shake everything up right now.  People are wandering into comic book stores and they’re looking for stories about the Avengers they see on the big screen, and now they are going to find a female Thor and a flying Captain America.  Why?  I recently wrote a post where I discussed some of the reasons why the changes might be happening, including it could be a gimmick to get more attention and sell more books.  Today, though, I had a thought.  I wonder if the changes are a result of the huge success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Stay with me here, it might actually make sense in the end.

One of the things that has always been consistent in the comics is that the heroes, the main characters never age.  I mean, there’s the occasional one-off or special miniseries where they get older and you get to see what it would be like if they do get older, like Kingdom Come or The Dark Knight Returns , but for the most part, Superman, Batman, Captain America, all the big names , stay the same age.  The world around them moves on and ages, but the heroes stay the same.  It’s easy to do in the comics, and widely accepted.  Nobody seems to mind.  This is fine in a world drawn by hand.  They don’t have to worry about age and things, they just draw them the same as they’ve always been drawn.  This works great for comics, but not for movies.  Actors do get older.  It’s just a fact.  It’s something that production companies have had to deal with forever.  Sometimes they get creative like Doctor Who with regeneration, and sometimes they just go with a change in actors and provide no reason for it, like James Bond. Or you can go the route of just bringing in all new characters.  Marvel has to find a way to keep the Avengers movies going after Avengers 3, when the contracts run out for their big three, Cap, Thor, and Iron Man, or at least their actors.  Those are big shoes to fill, and there is no bench for those heroes.  Avengers 4 will have Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man.  So how will Marvel deal with a change in actors?  The same way it always should be in comics.  These characters are bigger than the individual characters.  They are symbols.  Anyone can put on the suit or throw the shield or, if worthy, pick up the hammer.  I think the change in the comics could be preparing us for the changes in the films.  They’ve changed the characters before, but it’s always been temporary.  I wonder if this time the changes will be more permanent because we have to get used to not Steve Rogers as Cap, not Tony Stark as Iron Man, and not Thor as…Thor. And, I hope it continues.  It’s been one thing that I always thought would be cool.  What happens when the heroes get old, and younger heroes take up their mantles.  It could lead to some great stories and new insights on the characters.  I was sad when Bruce Wayne came back from the dead and Dick Grayson’s run as Batman was done.  Bucky Barnes’ time as Cap was too short.  The comic publishers have always been willing to initiate the change, but they never stick to it. Maybe the long-term plans for the Marvel Cinematic universe will change that.  Maybe Sam Wilson will take up the Captain America Mantle permanently.  Maybe my kids will grow up reading about a female Thor.  Maybe that will be the new norm.  And maybe it will start happening with more heroes.  I think there is a lot of potential there, and it just makes sense.  Now of course, we have our suspicions that the Captain America title will be passed to Bucky Barnes in the movies, similar to what happened a few years ago when Steve Rogers was shot.  Sebastian Stan has signed on to a 9 movie deal with Marvel, which means they are tying him down for something big.  They still have to figure out how to move on without Chris Hemsworth and Tony Stark, and bringing in different actors to play the exact same characters is not going to go over well with the fans.  A change in character makes more sense.  I hope it’s the case.  It will be an interesting turn in the stories of the characters and the Marvel universe as a whole.

What is Marvel Doing?

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By now, pretty much everyone has heard about the drastic changes that are coming to some of Earth’s mightiest heroes.  Sam Wilson is going to become Captain America, and some un-named woman will be taking up the mantle of Thor.  These are indeed big changes, and at first I had some thoughts about why Marvel was doing it, and most of those thoughts centered on the word gimmick.  As in, this must be a sales gimmick.  And maybe, on some level it is, but I’ve allowed myself a little bit of time to digest the announcements that seemed to be coming fast and furious yesterday (3 concerning Thor, Cap and Iron Man).  That time has helped look at the whole thing differently, and I’m not sure it is all about the sales, and I’m not sure that the changes will be all that bad.  So let me break them down one by one and offer my thoughts, for what their worth.

First, Iron Man.  The announcement concerning Iron Man was small in comparison to the Thor and Cap announcements, so it should be easy to break that down.  Tony will continue to be Iron Man, but he will have a new suit that will be silver and black, and he will be leaving Stark tower and New York, and moving to the West Coast, San Francisco.  The moving part is the biggest news, i think.  Marvel has always been a New York centric publisher.  All of their major characters reside in the Big Apple, so to move one that is as big a deal as Iron Man is right now to San Francisco is a surprise.  The release about the big move mentioned that he has some big ideas for his new city and not everyone will be on board.  That’s about all we got.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I personally believe that this is the beginning of the return of The Avengers: West Coast.  One can only dream, I suppose.

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Next up, Thor.  This announcement was a little bigger.  Basically, Thor will no longer be Thor.  He won’t be worthy to wield Mjolnir, the mighty hammer, for some reason.  The person who will be worthy to have the hammer will be a woman.  She will take on the mantle of the Thunder God…er… Goddess. This is a big departure for the character, obviously.  This is not the first time that someone else has had the hammer, so that part is not new, but it is the first time that someone is a woman.  This shouldn’t be a big shock to those who have read Thor recently.  It is a series full of strong female characters, especially once Odin was out of the picture and Asgard was protected by three queens.  So, it is not a huge stretch for this series to go in this direction.  The timing was a little weird, I thought.  Thor 2 had a pretty good run last year in the theaters and then on blu ray and digital download.  Plus, we have The Avengers: Age of Ultron hitting theaters next year.  I know that the success of these movies has caused a few people to walk into their local comic book store (mine is Black Cat Comics in Sugar House, stop by and see Greg for all your comics needs) looking for these characters.  I thought this was just another way to get people to continue to talk about Thor in between theatrical runs.  The reality, though, is that when people go in and look for these titles on the shelves, what they want to find is the comic book version of Chris Hemsworth, and might be disappointed when it is some woman they don’t know.  Then they will probably put it back and slowly walk away.  Meaning, that if this is just a ploy to sell more issues, it’s actually a little counterintuitive.

So, then why do it?  I began to think maybe it was just the opposite of all that.  What if Marvel was doing this right now because of the success the Avengers have had in the theaters lately?  What if they were wanting to springboard off this success and introduce just a little more diversity into the ranks?  When I thought of it that way, I started to warm up to the idea.  The success of the Avengers has brought Black Widow into the forefront as far as strong women characters, so why not try to capitalize on that more.  How many other sting female characters have their own title in the Marvel universe?  This could be a great opportunity to establish a new , positive role model for girls in the comics.  I’m not saying there aren’t any out there, but it doesn’t hurt to add more, and they are still drastically outnumbered by male characters, especially in leading roles.  The biggest key will be the writing and the story.  There are strong women out there, but they seem to be overlooked because they are under-developed and poorly written (DC and Wonder Woman, I’m looking at you).  This could be a big opportunity to change that for Marvel, and I for one hope they do.  I think this change is worth checking out.

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Finally, we have Captain America.  I have always felt that Captain America should be bigger than Steve Rogers, and in some ways he has been.  There have been others that have donned the stars and stripes and shield, including when Cap (Rogers) “died” a few years back and Bucky Barnes took over for a while.  For whatever reason, I have always thought of Captain America and Batman as symbols larger than Rogers and Wayne, more than other heroes, like Superman who should always be Clark Kent, and there should only ever be one.  I don’t mind the idea of Steve getting a bit on in age and needing to step away from the front lines and passing this on to Sam Wilson.  Sam is a great choice, in my opinion, and will make for some interesting stories. One major difference is that Sam has never had any super serum like Steve was, so he has no super powers.  He is just a regular guy.  I think this makes for some potentially good story telling.  Think about it.  We all like that Steve Rogers was just a regular guy with a big heart, and he got the serum and became Captain America.  Sam Wilson is all of that, minus the super serum part.  The biggest deal, at least in the media, is that Sam Wilson is black.  The fact that it’s a big deal is why that part of the story is still a big deal.  Really, it’s about time that we had one of the big flagship titles have a black lead.  Again, I think this is Marvel taking the success and popularity of the Avenger characters and using that to promote and push more diversity, which is not a bad thing.  I am intrigued to see how Sam and the new Thor work out.  I think there is a lot of potential for some great story telling, I just hope Marvel will deliver.