Marvel Comics is introducing a brand new Thor, and they're grabbing attention by going a different direction: A woman is picking up the hammer.
Comic books have long faced criticism for being dominated by male characters, with few female-led books and female characters given editorial attention. Fans have clamored online for a Black Widow film, with her being one of the only Avengers (along with Hawkeye) to not get their own solo film. Now, Marvel is taking a swing at pushing a female hero to the top of their universe.
The company defended their legacy of female characters in the press release announcing the new Thor.
"Thor is the latest in the ever-growing and long list of female-centric titles that continues to invite new readers into the Marvel Universe," the statement read. "This female Thor is the 8th title to feature a lead female protagonist and aims to speak directly to an audience that long was not the target for Super Hero comic books in America: women and girls."
“The new Thor continues Marvel's proud tradition of strong female characters like Captain Marvel, Storm, Black Widow and more," Marvel Editor Wil Moss said. "And this new Thor isn't a temporary female substitute."
Writer Jason Aaron, who's been writing the male Thor and will be taking on the new incarnation, argued that this isn't just a female side character.
“This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the Thor of the Marvel Universe," Aaron said in a statement.
Marvel made the announcement on "The View," which for a new female character, may be a little on the nose. There's also been backlash from some fans — Marvel social media guru Ryan Penagos was one of the victims of that.
A meme was brought back that had already been going around of a female Thor cosplayer labeled as "Whor," along with fans making that connection on Twitter while others fired back.
Still, many supported the change, with the acknowledgment that whatever Marvel says, it's likely going to be temporary — chances are we may get a male Thor back at least by the time the third Thor film comes out.
Creators stood up for the concept of a female Thor:
Even Marvel "Avengers" film director/geek god Joss Whedon has weighed in with a picture of Starbuck from "Battlestar Galactica":
There have been other takes on Thor in the past, though this may be one of the boldest. Alien Beta Ray Bill, who looks like a space horse, was one of those who previously picked up the hammer. There's also already a Thor-esque Asgardian character named Valkyrie who wears similar armor, but she hasn't been headlining big Marvel books.
This also isn't the first woman to wield Thor's hammer. Wonder Woman is among those who have picked up Thor's hammer Mjolnir; she did it during a Marvel/DC Comics crossover.
Marvel also previously played around in the Thor universe with gender-bending — his brother/archnemesis Loki spent some time as a woman.
Some fans pointed out that there was a taste of a female Thor in the 1980s — the Thor-obsessed babysittee in "Adventures In Babysitting."
For everyone who's mad about the new Thor, a reminder: Thor was once a frog.
The first issue of the relaunched comic comes out this October.
What do you think of the new female Thor? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.