While I was out of the loop, trying to recenter myself*, Marvel comics did something that turned certain segments of the Heathen world on their head; they made “The Mighty Thor” a women. This is apparently a bad thing for Heathenry because…uh…breasts? I guess? In all seriousness, I saw a handful of Heathens loose their minds over a comic book that has a female character named Thor…and…wow. Just…wow.
Let’s be clear here: 99.9% of the people upset about this, in the Heathen community at least, are reacting not to the spiritual implications of this but to their own misogynistic worldview and/or their fundamentalism. This is quite similar to the controversy that rose up over Idris Elba playing Hemidall; it too was only made up of bigotry and ignorance. Nothing more or less.
Let’s take a brief look at some of the plotlines that have been far stranger and more bizarre than Mjornir being paired with a set of D-Cups. The one most people have brought up is the time that Thor was turned into anthropomorphic frog, which makes it weird that people seem to feel that being a woman is worse than not even being human. Next there is Beta Ray Bill, the equine alien who was given a version of Mjonir after he bested Thor in brawl. There is the alternate reality of Earth X where Odin turned Thor into a woman to teach him humility, making this not even the first time there was a female Thor in a print comic book. We also have a team of multiple Thors from multiple time lines, brought together by Zarkko the Man of Tommorrow, called the “Thor Corps“**. Lastly on our quick tour of crazy comic book plots, there is Throg,: a human football played cursed to the shape of a frog and eventually given his own version of Mjonir (Frognoljir, no I am not kidding), who serves as a member of the “Pet Avengers“. They all sound like fever dreams, yet they’re all a part of comic book canon.
“The Mighty Thor” is only loosely based on Norse mythology, at best, and it’s been that way since August of 1962. What we know modern Heathenry to be has only existed since the the 1970s, meaning that some of these ridiculous plot lines were kicking around over a decade before modern Heathenry even came into beaning. Beta Ray Bill has been a part of comic book lore since November of 1983. Yet, inspite of those thirty-one years, it hasn’t us impeded us in any way. Hell, it’s older than a lot of the Heathens complaining about it!
Before anyone points it out, I’m aware there are people on Tumblr who take the comic books too seriously. I’m sorry, but I don’t think that matters at all. There are also people, offline and online, who swear the airplanes deposit mind control chemicals into the air…and I’ve noticed that their beliefs haven’t changed how airplanes and/or aerodynamics work. The fact is that comic book Thor doesn’t have a meaningful impact on our religion, regardless of whether anyone on Tumblr develops some sort of wonky gnosis over the material written about him. Or her, for that matter.
The people uncomfortable with this are sexist and/or dangerously afflicted with the madness that is fundamentalism. That may seem to be a bit of a pejorative leap, but I’ve thought about this long and hard and I’ve come to an unavoidable conclusion on the matter: simply put, if Marvel Comics is to be judged negatively for their departure from the lore of our spiritual ancestors, there is one thing they’ve done that is a greater crime against the lore than female Thor or black Heimdall.
That crime is the portrayal of Odin by Anthony Hopkins in Thor(2011). Please tell me why everyone who bristles at gender swaps and skin tone hasn’t torn into the interpretation of Odin depicted within that film. Put it under any level of similar scrutiny and it becomes cringe worthy.
In this movie, we see the God of War, Magic, Frenzy, and Passion demanding to uphold a peace treaty when it makes no sense to do so; he even punishes his son for returning aggression that was (to the best of his knowledge) never instigated by his people. Later on, he is so devastated by having to punish Thor and reveal to Loki that he’s adopted (?!) that the stress forces him to take a freaking nap for two days. Also he didn’t loose his eye for wisdom in the movie; he lost it in a battle that his side was winning, but then refused to finish. Also Loki isn’t his sworn-brother, but is an adopted war orphan instead. Thor is banished…for killing Frost Giants, which is now bad for some reason. He even strips Thor of his hammer and his powers…because the plot needs for him to be able to do that.
The entire movie depicts Odin as an all-powerful, all-knowing being of immeasurable capacity…who does nothing but hem and haw over everything he does. We see the leader of the Aesir, one of the greatest figures in Norse myth, reduced into little more than a contrived solution to the dilemma of the movie…when the entire plot was contrived into being by his stupid decisions in the first place.
The Allfather depicted in the Eddas would take that “Odin” and break him in half. Quite possibly he would then animate his corpse and order it to bludgeon the script writers until they produced something better. In the lore, he killed, maimed, and destroyed anything that stood in the way of his people and their well-being; there was no “wait and see” attitude. The idea of making “peace treaties” with enemies that would obviously turn on you the moment you looked away is not something this God would even consider. If you are bothered by the deviations from the lore created by Thor with a vagina and Heimdall with melanin, than you should be frothing mad at this namby pamby excuse for a depiction of the Allfather.
Yet, scarcely a peep is heard about this wimpy and milquetoast bastardization. There was a faint grumbling from a few scholars I knew, but that was it. All of these people making gender and race based complaints, many identifying as “Odinists” by the way, didn’t pay attention as the God whose name they claim as their own was shown to be passive, weak-willed, and almost cowardly. They missed that their namesake was presented as some bearded, all-knowing father figure that looks more at home in the Christian New Testament then in the Eddas.
Give Thor different chromosomes, and suddenly you’re shitting on the Eddas***. Make Heimdall black, and you’re a coward who is caving in to the pressures of the “monoculture”. Never mind that Thor is a comic book character, and that this isn’t even the first time he has been deprived of his hammer and two golden apples. Never mind that Idris Elba personified a proud warrior and tireless guardian every single second he was on screen. Nope, those two things are still horrific insults to our religion.
Make Odin look a weak and frail coward, and a bunch of strong, proud, Folkist Heathens don’t seem to give a damn…because, hey…it may be a complete bastardization of the greatest of our Gods, but it’s a complete and utter bastardization played by a white dude. There are people who can ignore all the times Thor was a frog or that a copy of his hammer was given to horse headed aliens because, hey, it may have nothing to do with any of the lore but there is no reason to get upset as long as they horse and the frog both have dicks and aren’t black.
If there is another way to see this, I can’t find it. The only time anyone gives a crap is when stuff involves women or not-white people; then it’s an affront to these people and their religion. Change Thor’s species, however, and no one cares because it’s a comic book.
While we are on that subject, did we forget that this is a comic book?! Imagine if DC came out with a comic called the “The Super Savior Jesus”, where Jesus Christ was depicted as a member of the Green Lantern Corp or whatever. You’d be able to hear the gnashing of teeth within the bible belt from space, and the Heathen community…we would laugh ourselves sick over their outrage. I know this, because we already laugh at their extremest claptrap. The Heathen community, almost in it’s entirety, constantly extends a big middle finger to the Westboro Baptists and their peers. We think it’s ridiculous that they act as they act, preach as they preach, and condemn what they condemn. We see this behavior, and we treat them as little better than circus clowns.
Then Thor gets a literal breastplate, and suddenly a huge chunk of us are in the big top right along side of them.
There are a handful of criticisms that are fair…and in every case, it’s when the criticizer is talking about the comic book as a comic book exclusively. If you want to call it lazy story-writing, I’m okay with that; most comic book writing has been a form of highly polished, lazy world building for quite some time. If you dismiss it as an attempt to sell comics, I’m okay with that too. The moment you cross the line from “that’s a stupid comic book plot” to “this offends my religious beliefs in some way”, you’re in a very bad place. If you’re reacting this strongly to a piece of fiction blacking up and femming up some characters with tenuous connections to your religious mythology, the problem isn’t with Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Idris Elba, Marvel Comics, or anyone else. The problem resides exclusively with you.
At that point, it’s not about heritage, about coming home, or about any of that feel good rhetoric. What you’re prattling about at that point is nothing less than unadulterated bigotry; what else can it be when your God with boobs bothers you more then your God as a sub-human frog? The literal symbol of our faith is given to an extra-planetary horse-person and these same lore-berserkers don’t even bat an eye. The comparisons are numerous, and none of them are kind to those who wield this type of situational outrage. The best I can say for someone who thinks this way is that maybe, just maybe, there is a chance they are just an idiot instead of an idiot and a horrible bigot.
If you’re coming up with an explanation for why this isn’t just a waste of time and/or proof of your own racist, misogynistic foolishness, save it for Hopkins; the Odin of Northern Europe wouldn’t give a damn about your feeble excuses.
EDIT 7/26/2014: The post had to be edited due to an unacceptable amount of errors! I apologize for the premature publishing, and thank those who brought it to my attention! I don’t proofread well when I’m irritated… >.>
*More on that later. The short version for now is that my tank was on empty, and I refilled it by focusing on stuff that wasn’t the community.
** Beta Ray Bill shows up again as a member of the Thor Crops. Said horse-headed alien called the group the “Hammer Brothers”. So, not only do we have an entire team of Thors, moving the Thunderer from the realm of unique and mighty being into something you can stick in a copying machine crossed with a Tardis, but they added in a reference to Super Mario Brothers. Shine on, you crazy Marvel.
***I actually saw someone write this; that Marvel was “shitting on the Eddas”. So apparently the last fifty plus years of writing stories about how Thor wasn’t a God, but rather that he and the entire pantheon were actually aliens that our spiritual ancestors thought were Gods is somehow completely okay and respectful. All of that, plus an underwire bra and a tampon….then you’ve gone to far! Are you kidding me?