Marvel Comics Is Replacing White Male Heroes - and Female Thor Outsells the Male One
It's a new age of diverse characters for Marvel Comics. Thor is a woman. The Hulk is an Asian-American boy. The title of Captain America was recently held by a black man. A black 9-year-old girl, Lunella Lafayette, is now the smartest person in the entire Marvel universe. And soon, the role of Iron Man will be held by a black teenager named Riri Williams.
While speaking with Fuse about Riri's expanding role in the Marvel universe, Marvel's editor-in-chief Axel Alonso pointed out that although diversifying their line-up has always been a priority, they didn't set out to replace every one of their white, male heroes with women and people of color. That happened naturally, as a result of the stories their writers wanted to tell.
"There was a point at which both Jason Aaron, who was writing 'Thor,' and ['Captain America' Rick Remender, at about the same time, had ideas to put new characters in the uniforms, in the costumes," he said, noting that both of them had the same idea without discussing it with each other. "They had a similar idea to play with an icon, they both came up with compelling reasons to do so and we went for it. And we suddenly realized that we had an 'Avengers' landscape that didn't look anything like the movies."
Alonso also addressed the controversy that although Marvel's characters are changing, the stories are still being written and drawn overwhelmingly by white men. Riri, for example, was created by white writers Brian Michael Bendis and Stefano Caselli, and until the recent announcement that Roxane Gay and Yona Harvey would be writing a "Black Panther" spin-off together, there had never been a black female writer at Marvel Comics.
"We have been well-aware of this problem—it’s industry-wide—and we have been taking steps to course-correct it for a long time, as, I think, our current line reflects," he said. But although Bendis created Riri, "that hardly means that he is going to be the only person to write her now that she’s here. It just doesn’t work that way. Who knows, maybe Roxane or Yona might take an interest in Riri? Maybe someone we’re talking with that you’ve never heard of?"
To read the rest of the interview, including Alonso's thoughts on comic book spoilers and hints about Riri's role in the Marvel universe, head over to Fuse.