Chances are if you open up the first comic book you see today, you’ll probably be looking at a white man in a cape. While, yes, comic book companies are making efforts to be diverse when it comes to their characters, the lack of representation is evident. However, the few comic book characters that do represent those of us who aren’t white men do it well.
Miles Morales caused a huge stir in the comic book industry. The idea of a half Hispanic, half African-American Spider-Man was mind-boggling to those who couldn’t shake off the idea of Spider-Man being anything but white. But this change in race of the iconic superhero was obviously for the better. By announcing Miles Morales to the Ultimates Universe, Marvel was making their comics more diverse and proving that they care about the representation of their fans. Chris Huntington wrote an article for the New York Times discussing how Miles helped his son get into comics. He talks about how when he was a child, all of his favorite superheroes were white. He asked the question, “Why couldn’t the superheroes in my comics look like my son?” You can read the article here.
Kamala Khan is one of the most recent young superheroes that’s taking Marvel by storm. Not only is she a teenage superhero, but she’s also a Muslim. There are so few Muslim characters in the comic book industry and it’s awe inspiring to see Kamala’s comics doing so well. Ever since her solo title, “Ms. Marvel”, was announced, she’s been living in the spotlight. She’s representing not only Muslims, but women and teenagers, too. It’s constantly overlooked how teenagers are seeking out representation in media. Why do you think that a vast majority of young adult fiction is based around teenagers who are going through stereotypical teenager experiences? However, teenager representation in comic books is even more important. When a teenager opens up a comic book and sees Kamala Khan, Mile Morales, Kate Bishop or Laura Kinney punching bad guys in the face and then going to school the very next day, it motivates them. Seeing someone their age being able to deal with all of the things that every teenager has to deal with, and then being a superhero as well, is inspiring. But Kamala is a special case. She has to deal with facing the everyday struggles of being a Muslim in America, along with being a regular teenager and a superhero. Those who face the same struggles will easily identify with her. They will be able to see that their troubles are being recognized.
When Marvel announced that they were making a female Thor, the internet went ballistic. While we don’t have much information on how they are going to make the story work, we do know that this is a very big step for Marvel. Making one of their biggest characters a different gender is a dangerous and progressive move. Of course, they’ve gained their share of misogynistic fans who have no problem with spouting out their criticism to anyone on social media. However, Marvel’s Executive Editorial Director, Ryan Penagos, better known as Agent M, shut them all down on Twitter by posting pictures of his favorite Thors, a lot of them being women. He also made a tweet quoting the writer of the new “God of Thunder” series, Jason Aaron.
“This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR.” –@jasonaaron
His twitter throughout the whole outbreak of the story is very entertaining. Some of his other tweets on the matter are:
@CrookedKnight@danielrhorton If you’re worthy, you are Thor is a simple way to look at it
Was just called a gay slur and told to get cancer because of the Thor news. Go Internet!
Cheers to everyone who’s gotten worked up about the Thor news today–for or against. Passion and excitement!
The whole point is that women are getting represented in comics in a bigger way now. With a character as popular as Thor becoming a female, who knows what Marvel could produce now? Some fans have actually been speculating that they might be announcing a certain female character getting her own movie. Whether they’re implying the movie is for Black Widow, Captain Marvel or any other female character is neither here nor there, but nonetheless the movie would be exciting. You can read more about the new Thor here or here.
Everyone should be able to open up a comic book and be able to identify with a character. Whether it is through race, religion, gender, or sexuality, we should all be able to find someone just like us to relate to. But if we keep making every new superhero a straight, white male, we aren’t going to make any progress as a society. We need more Kamala Khans and Miles Morales. We need more diversity. We need more representation.