Much Ado About Lady Thor

“Forced Diversity”? Or whining from Thor losers?

After making fans endure a wait that made an afternoon at the DMV seem short, Marvel finally released the ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ trailer this week.

This mostly seemed to satisfy the denizens of Nerdopolis, but one short clip at the end of the trailer has created some controversy. Even though everyone knew it was coming, the trailer once and for all confirmed the appearance of Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster as Lady Thor. Or Female Thor. Or The Mighty Thor. It all depends on how deep your comics knowledge goes.

Lady Thor
Natalie Portman is Thor now in ‘Thor: Love And Thunder.”

A mini Gamergate-style controversy ensued on the tubes. “Thor is a man!” people exclaimed. “What is Marvel doing?” A semi-well-known movie YouTuber named Tyrone Magnus decried the “forced diversity” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

At this point, criticizing pop culture for being “woke” is like criticizing the wind for being gusty. It’s simply a natural property of the time in which we life. And there’s also plenty of canonical precedent for Jane Foster as Lady Thor. This fan service is nearly five decades in the making. Marvel did a “What If” issue in 1978, in which a very leggy Jane became The Mighty Thor in the place of nerdy doctor Donald Blake.

Lady Thor

For a more contemporary iteration of the character, there was the 2014 “Thor” series, which posited a non What If scenario where Jane, now dying of breast cancer, transforms into Thor, which gives her superpowers but also negates the effects of her chemotherapy. Somewhat annoyingly, they didn’t reveal this until Issue 8 of the series. In terms of social realism, this is right up there with “let’s go back in time and kill Hitler.” But comics also ask us to believe that radioactive spiders give teenagers superpowers, so we must go with the flow, and Lady Thor is now canon.

Lady Thor

This is all probably a bit much, but it’s in no way out of step with contemporary comics culture. We have a Black Captain America and an alternate-universe female Captain America. There is a Black female Iron Man and also a white female Iron Man, a Black Spider-Man, a Spider Girl, and a Spider-Gwen. Marvel introduced a Spider Woman and a She Hulk in the 1970s. There is a girl Wolverine and a young female Hawkeye. The original Captain Marvel was a man, and the current Captain Marvel was once Ms. Marvel.

I don’t know if this is “forced” diversity or not. But it’s also totally in tune with the mainstream audience of this product. Thor, the Norse God of thunder, was originally a white man. However, that was a long time ago, and at this point most people are willing to accept heroes of all shapes, sizes, races, and genders.

That said, I would like to push for a Jewish Thor. Maybe he can pay someone else to carry the hammer for him. Or say “oy, it’s so Bifrosty in here.” I can make these references because I’m Jewish myself. And so, for that matter, is Natalie Portman, the new Lady Thor. Why is this Thor different from all other Thors?

I’ll show myself out.

Lady Thor
Lady Thor. Female and Thor.

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Neal Pollack

Book and Film Globe Editor in Chief Neal Pollack is the author of 11 semi-bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction, including the memoirs Alternadad and Stretch, the novels Repeat and Downward-Facing Death, and the cult classic The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature. A Rotten Tomatoes certified reviewer for both film and television, Neal has written articles and humor for every English-language publication except The New Yorker. Neal lives in Austin, Texas, and is a three-time Jeopardy! champion.

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