Here’s Why a Female Thor Makes Total Sense

Thor concept art on July 15, 2014. Marvel Comics

Thor's power derives from his (or her!) hammer

The mighty Thor, that symbol of masculinity, aggression, violence and war, is going to be a woman. And it makes total sense.

Marvel announced the upcoming female incarnation of the character on The View Tuesday morning. The reaction was swift and, in many cases, far too negative. “I love women who kick add but Thor’s a dude,” [sic] wrote one Twitter user. “Marvel comics being stupid,” announced another. And then there’s this, from a Marvel editor:

Here’s the deal: Marvel Comics has long borrowed Norse mythology for many of its beloved characters and plots. That’s free intellectual property, after all. But the comics are only inspired by Norse mythology, and they’ve almost never followed the stories line-for-line (and even if they did, mythology suffers from a massive case of The Telephone Game, with lots of different tellings evolving over the years).

Thor, in the Marvel Universe, isn’t just a character: He’s also an intangible idea. And Thor’s power, which most notably includes the ability to summon up lightning to layeth the smacketh-downeth upon his foes, isn’t really embedded inside him, per se. It’s in his hammer, Mjolnir — to mix comic book universe metaphors, he’s more like Green Lantern, who derives his power from a ring that’s charged by a lantern that’s charged by a planet.

That wasn’t always the case. Thor’s power used to be embedded in Thor directly. But when Thor’s father, Odin (also the king of Thor’s realm, Asgard), wanted to punish Thor for violating his direct commands, Odin stripped Thor of his powers and enshrined them instead in Mjolnir. Here’s the spell Odin put on the hammer to do so:

Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.

Translation: To get Thor’s power, you have to be deemed worthy of it by successfully picking up the hammer. In most Marvel Thor origin stories, eventually Thor redeems himself, reclaims his hammer (without first knowing why he couldn’t pick it up any longer) and then becomes the “real” Thor again, ready to return to his lightning-summoning, hammer-slinging self.

But Thor isn’t the only person who’s lifted the hammer: Captain America, the Hulk (eventually!) and Superman (crossover!) were deemed worthy and got Thor’s power. Who does the deeming is something of a mystery, but I’ve long thought that Mjolnir itself is sentient and the hammer itself decides who’s worthy of it.

And there’s the rub: What will probably happen in the Marvel comic book that introduces the new female Thor is that the male Thor we’ve all known for decades will either bite the bullet or do something to piss off the hammer. Either option would mean Thor couldn’t be Thor any longer, and some female character will come along — whether Asgardian or otherwise — try to pick up the hammer, succeed, and effectively become a female Thor. That Odin’s spell specifically says “he” doesn’t really matter: Storm and Wonder Woman (another crossover!) have both been deemed worthy, signaling Mjolnir has perhaps developed a less strict constructionist ideology about itself than Odin ever had.

Of course, a female Thor won’t really address another problem facing the comic book world: The lack of original, well-advertised female superheroes, particularly at the movies. None of the upcoming DC or Marvel films, for example, feature a woman — no Wonder Woman from DC, no Black Widow flick from Marvel. The best we’ve gotten so far are Elektra and Catwoman, both total flops. Both companies will need more than a female version of a top character to fix that issue.

TIME Comics

Thor Will Now Officially Be a Woman in Marvel Comics

Thor concept art on July 15, 2014. Marvel Comics

But don't call her a goddess

From now on, the comic book character Thor will no longer be represented as a man in Marvel comics. ABC’s The View announced Tuesday that future stories will feature the god — not goddess — of thunder as a woman.

“This is not She-Thor,” senior writer Jason Aaron said in a Marvel release. “This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.”

According to an impressively comic jargon-filled tweet, the female depiction will still wield Thor’s weapon of choice:

Thor’s character was introduced in 1962.

According to a release by Marvel:

“The inscription on Thor’s hammer reads ‘Whosoever holds this hammer, if HE be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.’ Well it’s time to update that inscription,” Marvel editor Wil Moss said in a release. “The new Thor continues Marvel’s proud tradition of strong female characters like Captain Marvel, Storm, Black Widow and more. And this new Thor isn’t a temporary female substitute – she’s now the one and only Thor, and she is worthy!”

Marvel said this would be its 8th title to star a female character.

TIME Comics

Here’s How Archie Will Die

From left: Veronica, Archie, and Betty, characters from the Archie's comic book series.
From left: Veronica, Archie, and Betty, characters from the Archie's comic book series. Archie Comics/AP

A heroic demise for iconic comic book character

We all knew Archie Andrews would die one day, but now we know he’ll die a hero, taking a bullet for his gay best friend.

The beloved comic book icon will meet his glorious end in Wednesday’s installment of Life with Archie when he tries to stop an assassination attempt on Kevin Keller, the first openly gay character in Archie Comics. Archie’s impending doom was first announced in April.

“He dies heroically. He dies selflessly. He dies in the manner that epitomizes not only the best of Riverdale but the best of all of us,” Archie Comics publisher and co-CEO Jon Goldwater told The Associated Press. “It’s what Archie has come to represent over the past almost 75 years.”

Keller’s character was introduced to the series in 2010 in the Archie spin-off Veronica. He’s now a married military veteran and senator who is pushing for more gun control in Riverdale. Goldwater won’t say much about the assassin, but hints that he’s a stalker-type figure.

Goldwater also said the decision to have Archie die saving Keller—as opposed to longstanding pals Betty or Veronica—was a strategic way to make sure Archie’s death was about the future of Riverdale, not the past. “Metaphorically, by saving Kevin, a new Riverdale is born,” he said.

“Archie is not a superhero like all the rest of the comic book characters,” Goldwater added. “He’s human. He’s a person. When you wound him, he bleeds. He knows that. If anything, I think his death is more impactful because of that.”


TIME remembrance

Batman Is Celebrating His 75th Birthday and You’re Invited

Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour Unveils The Batman Exhibit Celebrating Batman's 75th Anniversary
A general view of atmosphere during the Warner Bros VIP Studio Tour unveiling of the Batman Exhibit celebrating Batman's 75th Anniversary at Warner Bros. Tour Center on June 26, 2014 in Burbank, California. Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

Hollywood and comic fans honor Gotham’s crime-fighting hero

One day to celebrate Batman’s 75th birthday is just not enough.

Batman Day is officially on July 23, but Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment have organized a month-long series of events to commemorate the caped one’s milestone. Think of it as Comic-Con exclusively for Batfans.

Fans around the U.S. will be able to take part in the festivities, which include a studio tour (including a peek at the Batmobile and other props) and a free special-edition comic book at participating stores. There will also be new merchandise and DVD releases.

Artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger created Batman in May 1939 in response to the success of Superman — and comic-goers soon fell for the wealthy character of Bruce Wayne, who, come nightfall, swapped his suits for a black mask and cape to fight Gotham City crime.

Danny DeVito, who starred as the villain Penguin in the 1992 film Batman Returns, discussed the edgy comic hero’s success in an interview with AFP.

“The world has no heroes … Batman gives you some hope and some faith,” he said.

DeVito added that Batman’s appeal resonated with people who have little or no faith in politicians and the present generation. “We look around at us, our leaders and the young people we are supposed to look to. There’s really nobody you can have faith in,” he said.

TIME movies

How The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Turned Up the Spectacle

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone star in Columbia Pictures' 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2'.
Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone star in Columbia Pictures' The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Niko Tavernise

The cast and crew set out to capture the emotional ups and downs of the comics — and had a little fun along the way

Long before The Amazing Spider-Man premiered in the summer of 2012, the reboot had plenty working against it. “Too soon!” cried fans of Sam Raimi’s well-received Tobey Maguire trilogy, which concluded just five years before. “Too green!” cried skeptics of Marc Webb, whose directorial debut with (500) Days of Summer made him an unlikely choice to helm the superhero story.

Even its star, Andrew Garfield, had his doubts about stepping into such an iconic role, though the British actor’s inner child — Garfield dressed up as Spider-Man for his very first Halloween costume, he says — eventually won out.

“I have reservations about getting out of bed every morning,” Garfield says. “What the hell is going on? What is this weird rock that we’re on, floating through the universe? It’s scary out there. I may as well do something. We may as well tell a Spider-Man story.”

He made the right choice. Garfield’s turn as awkward, tongue-tied Peter Parker was irresistible, and his on-screen chemistry with Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy proved electric, transforming the action-packed franchise into something moviegoers had yet to see: Spider-Man as an earnest rom-com dressed up in all the extravagance and special effects of a summer blockbuster. “Spider-Man has always had a strong romantic component to it,” Webb says. “That part of his personality is something we all hopefully go through, and [it] makes Peter Parker relatable and interesting.”

While preparing for the sequel, Webb says he had another goal in mind: capture the thrill of the source material. “I had a very specific intention at the beginning of the film to embrace the spectacle,” he says. “Not, ‘I just want to make it bigger than ever!’ That comes from a feeling, it comes from being a kid and reading comic books and leaning back between panels and imagining yourself doing the things Spider-Man was doing.”

It certainly shows. When audiences reunite with Peter Parker this weekend, the thrill-seeker is flying through the streets of New York while trying stop a colorful car chase on the way to his own high school graduation. Reboots are about setting up a universe and telling an origin story; sequels, on the other hand, are about letting loose and having some fun.

“We felt liberated,” producer Matt Tolmach says. “Now we’re free to tell a Spider-Man story in whatever we want to tell it.” First, that meant giving the sequel a light-hearted energy: Spider-Man serves up hammy one-liner after one-liner throughout the movie, showcasing a more humorous side of the character that longtime Spidey fans will recognize from the original comics. To inject some physical comedy in the movie, the crew looked to old Buster Keaton gags, while Garfield studied the movements of Bugs Bunny, Charlie Chaplin, Muhammad Ali and Usain Bolt and practiced “ridiculous contemporary dance” with choreographers to bring out his inner arachnid. “The potentiality of a spider’s movement is it can be here and it can be over there in a split second,” Garfield says. “The lightness and stillness it can achieve is balletic and so beautiful to witness. I hope it’s not just a guy in a suit beating people up.”

The other goal of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Tolmach says, was to flesh out Oscorp, the mysterious research corporation that becomes a hotbed of evil and science experiments gone wrong. The film has several new villains — Jamie Foxx as Electro, Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn and the Green Goblin, Paul Giamatti as the Rhino — and the trailer for the movie makes clear references to Doctor Octopus and Vulture, paving the way for the Sinister Six and Venom spin-offs the producers are planning for after the reboot’s third installment in 2016. “There’s going to be a lot of crossover, and the universes are going to make sense,” Tolmach says.

When it came to reimagining Electro and the Green Goblin, Webb let the actors take the lead. Foxx says it was his idea to make the nerdy Max Dillon, who becomes Electro after falling into a tank of supercharged electric eels, the “first black man with a comb over.” DeHaan’s vision for Harry Osborn helped him land the role in the first place: During one audition, stylists planned to slick back his hair and dress him in suits as they’d done for other actors, but DeHaan surprised them by opting for the “trust-fund baby hipster kid” look he thought better modernized Harry — swoopy bangs and sleek blazers.

“It was a risk, but it was worth taking,” DeHaan says. “Why not bring to the table everything you have to offer and see if they buy what you’re selling, rather than try to be the best version of what you think Sony wants Harry Osborn to be?”

Unlike the first movie, which shot primarily in Los Angeles, the crew took to the streets of New York City to bring the film back to the comic books’ original home. New York makes several appearances in the film, partly by accident — in trying to capture the intimate moments between characters on such a large set, the production picked up the ambient sounds of the city, including trucks, sirens and even the crowds that gathered to watch the actors. “Marc does such a good job of making you feel like you’re making an independent movie, even though the movie you’re making is Spider-Man,” DeHaan says.

But the city has a prominent role in the action, too. As Electro comes to terms with his powers, he almost destroys Times Square (well, an extremely detailed replica built on a backlot in Queens, that is) and nearly plunges New York into a blackout that may seem all too familiar post-Hurricane Sandy. Though the filmmakers avoided making the film too dark — Foxx says they cut a scene where Max electrocutes and kills his mother out of concern for their young moviegoers — treating the city almost like its own character lends a real gravitas to a film intended to be more light-hearted than its predecessor. “You can’t have sunshine without having absolute darkness,” Foxx says.

The heart of the film, of course, remains Peter and Gwen. After promising Gwen’s dying father in the last film that he’d stay away from her, Peter struggles with his conscience in their on-again, off-again relationship. Gwen, on the other hand, is having it all: She’s a high school valedictorian interning at Oscorp, and her science background comes in handy as she occasionally puts some brains behind Spider-Man’s brawn. Their tit-for-tat lovers’ banter, some of which was improvised, returns here, but don’t mistake Gwen for just an ancillary love interest — while filming an emotionally charged breakup early in the movie, Stone says she ugly-cried her way through a take before Webb asked her to show a stronger side of the character. “They never insinuated for a second that she was a damsel in distress,” says Stone. “She’s so set on following her destiny, and she knows what she wants out of life. She has a lot of clarity where Peter has a lot of messiness.”

That may be ultimately drive the two apart. Gwen’s academic success earns her an opportunity to attend the University of Oxford in England; there’s also the question of whether or not the film will stay loyal to its source material and kill her off, as the comics did in 1973′s “The Night Gwen Stacy Died.” The idea of their love story tragically concluding may be tough to swallow for fans of a superhero movie that succeeded by being super human, but that may also be what keeps audiences coming back to Peter Parker movie after movie.

“If it was too easy, we wouldn’t want to watch him,” Garfield says. “The wonderful thing about Peter is that he is all of us, and he goes through the same struggles we go through — he just goes through them in the course of two hours as opposed to two years.”

TIME movies

Warner Bros. Confirms Justice League Movie

Justice League DC Comics Cover
Cover of Justice League Vol. 1: Origin DC Comics

The super-sized superhero film, which likely won't arrive until 2017 or 2018, will follow the upcoming Superman vs. Batman movie slated for 2016

Justice League, assemble — in three or four years.

Warner Bros. has confirmed plans for a film about the gang of superheroes, which over the years has included The Green Lantern, Aquaman and The Flash, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The film will follow last year’s Superman reboot, Man of Steel, and its upcoming 2016 sequel, tentatively titled Superman vs. Batman, which will introduce Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot as Batman and Wonder Woman, respectively, alongside returning Superman Henry Cavill. Zack Snyder will also return as the film’s director.

The Journal reports that the movie is unlikely to see a release date before 2018, though according to the Hollywood Reporter, 2017 is a possibility, as the upcoming movies are shooting back-to-back.

No release date has been set and the script is still in development, but Warner Bros. has been looking to cast the League superhero Cyborg, who is expected to debut in Superman vs. Batman.

“It will be a further expansion of this universe,” president of worldwide production Greg Silverman told the Journal. “Superman vs. Batman will lead into Justice League.”


TIME movies

Flash Gordon Movie In The Works

American athlete and actor Buster Crabbe in the title role of 'Flash Gordon', 1936.
American athlete and actor Buster Crabbe in the title role of 'Flash Gordon', 1936. Silver Screen Collection—Getty Images

Gordon's alive! A big-screen adaptation of the 1930s comic strip is on the way from "Star Trek 3" writers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay

Twentieth Century Fox have attained the rights to the screen version of the comic book. John Davis will produce while Star Trek 3 writers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay are also on board.
Read more at http://www.nme.com/filmandtv/news/flash-gordon-remake-set-for-production/337316#yLgqyKod1EV0RKdc.99
Twentieth Century Fox have attained the rights to the screen version of the comic book. John Davis will produce while Star Trek 3 writers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay are also on board. There are currently no actors attached to the project.
Read more at http://www.nme.com/filmandtv/news/flash-gordon-remake-set-for-production/337316#yLgqyKod1EV0RKdc.99

It looks like we can add Flash Gordon to the glut of action heroes getting the big screen treatment. Twentieth Century Fox has picked up the film rights for the comic strip hero, according to The Hollywood Reporter, with Star Trek 3 writers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay signed on to write the script.

In the original story, Flash was a polo player who was kidnapped by a mad scientist and taken to the planet Mongo, which was ruled by Ming the Merciless. Though he was first created as a comic strip in 1934 by Alex Raymond, Flash has had many lives over the past century, appearing in many spin-off comics and television series. Most notably was the campy 1980 movie adaptation starring Timothy Dalton, Max von Sydow, Chaim Topol and Sam Jones and a soundtrack by Queen.

According to THR, Fox isn’t the only studio who has been eyeing Flash Gordon for an adaptation — not to mention a potential franchise — which isn’t at all surprising. At this point, it’s safe to assume that all vintage action heros will soon be getting the Hollywood treatment.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

TIME Technologizer

Department of Inevitable Acquisitions: Amazon Buys ComiXology


The New York City-based startup was already the Amazon of digital comics. Now it's official

When it comes to mergers and acquisitions in the tech world, there are deals nobody saw coming. And then there are the ones you kind of assumed would happen all along.

Today’s news that Amazon is buying ComiXology, the biggest purveyor of comics in digital form, is that second sort of deal. It’s so natural a business for Amazon to covet that it’s a wonder it took this long. (ComiXology was founded in 2007.)

The prospect of yet another form of digital publishing being dominated by Amazon is not inherently appealing to me. The company has a reputation for playing hardball with the content companies whose work it licenses. Aside from the Marvels and DCs and Dark Horses of the world, comics publishers tend to be small, fragile outfits; if Amazon wants to push them around, it can. And owning ComiXology will only make it more powerful.

Then again, the industry had already largely standardized on ComiXology as its mechanism for getting comics to owners of computers, tablets and phones. Whether owned by Amazon or not, it’s likely to stay digital comics’ 800-pound gorilla for the foreseeable future.

Rather than taking on ComiXology directly, alternative platforms take different approaches: Madefire, for instance, publishes comics with so much animation and audio that they feel like movies that happen to be broken up into panels. ComiXology’s approach has been relatively conservative, giving other companies an opportunity to be innovative, maybe even disruptive.

I chatted about the merger this afternoon with ComiXology co-founder and CEO David Steinberger and David Naggar, Amazon’s vice president of content acquisition and independent publisher. They both stressed that ComiXology will be operated as a standalone business, with its brand, management team and headquarters in New York City intact.

“Amazon, when it buys a working company that’s doing a good job, tends to let them spread their wings,” says Steinberger. “It gives them resources and lets them go on the same path, only faster, better and stronger.”

Naggar points out some examples of past Amazon acquisitions that followed this model: IMDb, Zappos and Audible. When I heard that last one, I calmed down a little: Similar to ComiXology’s position in the comics world, Audible was the leader in digital audiobooks long before Amazon bought it. And it still retains its own identity after six years of Amazon ownership. If the ComiXology story follows a similar arc, I’ll be happy.

Of course, there are obvious opportunities for synergy: It would be startling if some flavor of ComiXology didn’t wind up as a standard feature of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets, for instance. (Naggar told me that the company will continue to sell comics outside of ComiXology–graphic novels are already a major Kindle category–but that even there, cross-pollination is possible.)

It’s not tough to envision a happy outcome here: If Amazon helps get ComiXology comics in front of more paying customers, it can be a boon for Amazon, ComiXology, comics publishers and comics readers. As a member of that last constituency and a voracious consumer of digital content, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

TIME Comics

They’re Killing Off Archie

The beloved character will die heroically

The lives of Archie Andrews and his friends have been followed closely by comic book fans since 1941, but it looks like Archie will soon meet his end.

Few details have been made public, but CNN reports that Archie will die while saving a friend in the 36th issue of the Life With Archie series. Over the last few years, the series has been creating possible future scenarios for Archie and his friends so fans can imagine what Archie would be like in high school and college, and as an adult. The 37th issue will come out a week later to finish the series.

“I think it’s the natural conclusion to the Life With Archie series,” Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater told CNN in peeling back the curtain on Archie’s impending doom. “Archie dies as he lived—heroically. He dies saving the life of a friend, and does it in his usual selfless way. Archie has always been a representation of us—the best of us. Our strengths and our faults.”


TIME movies

Snoopy Gets a 3D Makeover in New Peanuts Trailer

The first teaser trailer for the Peanuts 3D animated movie has been released, and the spirit of Charles Schultz's comic strip seems largely intact

Finally we get our first look at Charlie Brown and Snoopy’s 3D makeover. Blue Sky Studios and Fox released the first teaser trailer for the Peanuts 3D animated movie Tuesday, and it doesn’t look as bad as we feared. The creators of Ice Age seem determined to keep fundamental elements of the iconic Charles Schulz comics intact. There’s that classic music and the “good grief” catchphrase. There are lots of hugs and Woodstock even makes an appearance. It’s not the Great Pumpkin, but it’s still got charm.

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