You’re right, a female Thor is a publicity stunt.
It honestly couldn’t be any other way. Marvel is an entertainment company, and the way they make money is by drawing as many eyes to their product as possible. That requires publicity. Everything they do requires publicity. The same goes for every book you read, every television episode you watch, and every movie you see. Even the news pays this game, from your local hometown to global giants like CNN and Al Jazeera. Every last marketing effort is designed to provide a pleasing stimulus to your brain which entices you to spend your time and money with them alone.
Publicity stunts are business as usual in today’s era.
So, if we can’t complain about it being a publicity stunt, it must be some politically correct intrusion on comics fandom, right? Only if you discard the Asgardian superheroes Valkyrie and Sif, or even other strong female characters like Captain Marvel, Storm, Jean Grey, Black Widow, Rogue, Mystique, Peggy Carter, and so on. I firmly believe that comics fandom needs more strong and positive female role models, but to suggest that transferring Thor’s powers into a woman is done only to meet some abstract and non-exsistent diversity quotient is disingenuous and ignorant.
With those two excuses removed, it must be that Marvel is simply ruining this character’s long-standing tradition and legacy, right? Absolutely not. The pure and simple truth is that comics fandom should be fully embracing this experiment. Comic characters tend to exist for decades, and only because they continually get reinvented, for better or for worse. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman have undergone several rebirths and redesigns, and they’ve been around for 75 years. The reason that these characters have such longevity is because they stay socially relevant instead of trapped in time. If you want your heroes and myths to continue to exist, they need to evolve and experiment.
The old stories can only go so far before they become stale or stagnant. As a fan of these characters, I want to see them in new situations that haven’t been told before. I’d love to see more gender-swapped characters in our modern myths if only to experience their stories from a new point of view or in new situations that a new perspective provides.
I love the idea of a black Johnny Storm in a modern non-traditional family with a story not based on previous comics. I love the idea of Lex Luthor being a modern Facebook-style billionaire mogul. I love the idea putting the legacy of a light-hearted red-head teenager in the drama of the real world.
I simply love the idea of a woman being worthy to hold Mjolnir and the power of Thor. It means that Thor’s legacy proudly carries on and our modern myths continue to thrive.