It's a girl!
Marvel comics has announced that a man will no longer raise Mjolnir. Thor is being recreated as a woman. Like, for good (for now).
The announcement was made on The View on Tuesday. Marvel's editor-in-chief Axel Alonso told Time magazine: "She wields the hammer because Thor can't. This is different because for reasons we can't disclose quite yet, Thor is unable to pick up the hammer. There are a number of women in Thor's life, and we're going to tease out for quite awhile the identity of who this woman is. But one of the women in Thor's life picks up the hammer. She is in fact worthy. And she becomes Thor."
The new issues will appear this October.
Sure, I'm happy to see a female Thor, but when it comes down to it, I'm not that impressed by the publisher's move, who will clearly benefit from all this buzz and has said the revitalization is an effort to draw new female readers (and also, presumably, more money).
What will impress me, however, is if men and boys read the comics with any fervour.
This announcement is a reminder of a frustratingly persistent gender gap. I'm not talking about pay or glass ceilings. I'm talking about the everyday gap that shows men are simply not all that interested in women. Sometimes women aren't even that interested in women.
We see this in all sorts of ways. Take the Bechdel test, created to originally test gender bias in films by asking if the work has two women who talk to each other and if they talk about anything other than a man. According to one source, nearly 70 per cent of IMDB's top 250 films fail. A report from Women's Media Center based in the U.S. shows that both film and TV feature men as protagonists far more often than women; in 2012, just 11 per cent of all movie protagonists were female. Men dominate book reviews as well, both as featured writers and reviewers. And U.K.'s Guardian reports that of people referenced or quoted in newspapers, a dismal 16 per cent were women.
More anecdotally, praise, respect and scholarships are bestowed upon women in male-dominated fields, but not for men who break stereotype. Women who are into sports, cars and action flicks are perceived as sexy and cool. Men into rom-coms, Taylor Swift or knitting maybe not so much.
So, I'm not concerned about whether or not the new Norse god will have the power or worthiness to wield Mjolnir. Why shouldn't she? But if she has the power to draw male fans, well, that would truly be revolutionary.
Follow Deena Douara on Twitter: @Deena_Do