Marvel Characters Get a Makeover
You might recall that my post from last week touched on the movie-fication of some of Marvel’s characters, most notably Nick Fury, by way of “Nick Fury Jr.” (anyone else hear the theme from James Bond Junior just then? No? Just me? Okay…), and Peter Quill, aka as the outlaw Star-Lord. As much as I love the movies, I’m not a huge fan of the films overly influencing how Marvel portrays their classic characters. That said, when Marvel decides to tweak a first string character, I take notice… and this week they announced changes to three of the core Avengers. That is noteworthy.
Coinciding with the announcement that the newest addition to the Marvel Now lineup will be Avengers Now, an all new, ultra-contemporary rendition of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Marvel announced that some of the most pivotal of those… mighty heroes… will be undergoing significant transformations. Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man will be returning to the limelight in very different forms than readers and movie fans have grown accustomed to.
First, Marvel took to day time TV show The View (of all places…) to announce that Thor, that icon of space-viking manliness, would be rebooted as a woman! Well, not rebooted as such, but the Thor we know so well has often skirted the line of “unworthiness” to be Mjolnir’s dog-walker, and it just so happens that the next worthy to come along is, well, a lady. A mystery lady, because the blonde, helmeted goddess’ actual identity has yet to be revealed. Is this lady Thor a new character, or a familiar face? Is it possible that she’s the Goddess of Thunder from the Earth X series? Whose to say? But she looks bad ass…
Next, Marvel took to the Colbert Report to announce Steve Roger’s (latest) Captain America surrogate, Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon, Cap’s longtime partner-in-crime… fighting. This is not the first time that the Star Spangled Ass Kicker has lent his tights to another. Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, will undoubtedly remain the most famous surrogate Cap for a long time yet. Nor is Wilson even the first black man to bear the moniker–that distinction belongs to Isaiah Bradley, grandfather of the Young Avenger, Patriot. I never cared for the Falcon of the comics, who had lame quasi-mystical powers, but the Captain America sequel made him seem a whole lot cooler. Do I think we’ve seen Steve Rogers throw his last shield? I think not. But I’m looking forward to seeing what Marvel does with Wilson while he’s clad in the red, white, and blue.
The last change Marvel has in store for us seems to me to be the most potentially interesting (and may have the most far reaching implications for the Marvelverse). Tony Stark is packing up and moving West, Caaleefornee bound! In Superior Iron Man, Stark is going to become an (even more) ego maniacal Silicon Valley smartphone app magnate with a tinge of malice, who is going to unleash (er, I mean ‘market’) his Extremis technology on the world. Also, he’s got a new suit that people are calling the “Genius Bar” armor. We can only assume that this incarnation of Stark will be Steve Jobs with super villain tendencies. This change actually has me somewhat jazzed. Stark has always been a man on the edge. I can’t wait to see what happens when he crosses over to the dark side.
With a more than 50 year publication history and many characters who’ve been kicking around nearly as long, the occasional shake-up is necessary to keep things interesting. These changes, while dramatic, seem less about accommodating people than the transformations intended to placate movie fans, and more about shaking off the status quo. While I don’t think that these changes are likely to be permanent, I do think that a little change can be refreshing.