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Spotlight: Strong Women – A Return to the Question

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We had met as equals, rarely a good thing in such matters, for the woman who wishes to be the equal of a man usually turns out to be less than a man and less than a woman.  A woman is herself, which is something altogether different than a man. – (Emphasis added.)

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This quote is from The Walking Drum, written by Louis L’Amour.  While Mr. L’Amour is best known for his Western fiction, the truth is that he wrote a great many other stories as well.  He served in World War II and “yondered” much of his early life.  He was many things and he saw many things.  The Walking Drum is a novel he wrote – and it is set in the twelfth century.

Why start a post off with this quote?  Because it is a timely admonition.  A woman ends up being less than herself when she is trying to be something she is not.  And yet we have no end of “experts” proclaiming that women are equal to men.  It makes the observant wonder just what they are selling.

The research I did for the post “Offended, Insulted, and Not Shutting Up” is what got this article rolling.  And before anyone asks, no, I have not shifted my position on Marvel’s decision to make Jane Foster the latest version of “Thor.”  It is a stupid decision which they will soon learn is not helping them.

My research into the opinions of others regarding “Thorette” allowed me to find comments and articles that expressed what I have thought for some years.  They were not all as delicate in their statements as I would have been but, to borrow a line from Mr. Spock and the Vulcans, that is part of the wonder of living in a world of “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.”  With this research tumbling around in my head, I began to think not only about “Thorette” but about what the intelligentsia says we are to praise in the female characters being created these days.

This brings us back to the question I asked in the previous “Strong Women” post.  Just what makes a strong woman?  Looking at “Thorette,” it seems safe to say that many writers and artists think a woman is only strong when she has an above-normal muscle structure.  This sort of physique also happens to look good in some form of armor-plated swimsuit or underwear, which conveniently guarantees a male audience of some size.  (These are probably not the guys a girl should accept the offer of a date from, by the way.)

Being a curious observer, I have a question to ask the writers and artists at Marvel and elsewhere.  Do they know how many female fans Carol Danvers has?  Do they know how many women are in Thundra and “Thorette’s” fan clubs?  Has anyone taken a poll of female Marvel fans to ask them what they think of these characters – not to mention what they think of all the other heroines on Marvel’s roster?

If Marvel were to poll its female fans, I believe that they may get answers like mine.  For instance:  I have never liked or admired Carol Danvers.  And I cannot seriously contemplate Thundra, a character from an alternate dimension where women are the dominant sex, without stifling the reflexive urge to throw up.  She has to be one of the few characters Marvel has created which I find utterly repulsive.  I know and prefer her only as a convenient villainess.

My opinion of Jane Foster/“Thorette” is well documented.  Jane Foster has been warped and nearly destroyed as Marvel’s writers, editors, managers, et al attempt to gain fashion and political points from her “new look.”  But what they fail to comprehend – or perhaps to admit – is that she looks horrible!

Now, does everyone feel this way about these characters?  Hardly.  But in my humble view, these female characters do not appeal enough to be worth any kind of money.  Judging by “Thorette’s” anemic reception and the letters Marvel received about Carol Danvers years ago, I do not think I am that alone in disliking them.

What kind of female characters, then, impress me?  Allow me to pull out another quote from Mr. L’Amour to illustrate my answer:

 

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A man you can figure on; a woman you can’t.  They’re likely either to faint, or grab for a gun, regardless of consequences. – from Chancy

 The Cherokee Trail

These are the kind of women who fascinate me, and whom I wish to emulate.  Remember, fainting can easily be faked.  How is a man to know a real faint from a false one without putting himself in danger?  Louis L’Amour’s female characters are like this.  They are iron-willed women who have bones of steel.  They can handle a pistol, a rifle, or they can use some other object as a weapon.

You will not find any of L’Amour’s female characters holding up stages, taming broncos, or riding the range as cowgirls, it is true.  But you will find women in his stories that are leading cattle drives, managing ranches, and defending their homes from Indians or bandits.  And plenty of his women are quite happy to back up their men in a fight by holding a shotgun on the group of ruffians looking to make trouble.  The women in L’Amour’s novels of seafaring and in his football stories are no different.  Admittedly they do not carry guns in the vicinity of a football game, but they are just as determined and forceful as the frontier women who were their ancestors, in spirit if not in fact.

What does all of this have to do with Marvel?  The comic book company already has a Rolodex of formidable heroines.  To name a few, there is the Wasp, the Black Widow, Mockingbird, Wanda Maximoff, Silverclaw, Jean Grey, Rogue, Storm, the Invisible Woman….  The post “Offended, Insulted, and Not Shutting Up” has a more comprehensive list, if you would like to learn of more heroines in Marvel’s Universe(s).

The fact is these women can all hold their own in a fight.  Yes, these characters have an extra asset of some kind during combat.  Mockingbird and Black Widow have extensive hand-to-hand combat training, while Storm, Rogue, and Jean Grey have mutant powers.  Many other female characters within the Marvel brand also have superpowers.  But a pistol or a rifle is an asset, too, and no frontier woman who wanted to survive would shun either weapon because it was not natural to her.  It was often the only thing standing between her and harm – or death.  You respect that kind of tool; you do not toss it aside.

So do any of these Marvelous assets cheapen who these women are as characters?  No, they do not.  Nor do they enhance their characters; they are simply stand-ins for the rifles, pistols, or the various weapons women have used throughout the centuries.  Sometimes they are even extensions of the abilities women have always had:  intelligence, mental agility, and outright strength of will.

As a result one never knows just what any of these heroines are going to do in a given crisis.  One can never know just how they are going to play the game, how they are going to react to the villain’s bait.  They may play on his arrogance or they may pretend to be simpering, frightened damsels.  Whatever they do it is bound to be interesting and exciting, for the simple reason that it has the potential to be totally unexpected.

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Carol Danvers or Thundra, in comparison, can always be counted on to hammer at a problem until it goes away.  Why is this so?  It is so because they are women who are less than women.  The writers have decided to make them something they are not.  As a result, they have personalities that are as stilted as a puppet’s limbs, making them very uninteresting.

The other heroines do not have this built-in handicap.  They are women who are not afraid of being women.  This means that they do not think like the men around them.  This gives them their edge in a battle.  It is not their superpowers, skills, or weapons.  It is who they are as people, as women.

When these heroines are safely captured, they are often deemed by the villains as no longer a threat because they cannot use their powers, kung fu, or technology.  With Danvers or Thundra this is usually a true assessment.  They are not used to thinking outside the box – or thinking much at all, from what I have seen.  In a pitched battle they simply react.  This makes them relatively easy for their opponents to overcome or dispatch.

Many of Marvel’s other heroines, however, never stop thinking.  They are always watching, listening, assessing, and working out a plan of some sort.  If the only possible plan they can make is to wait for back up, then that is what they have to do.  Their male counterparts have experienced similar crises, though you will not hear these mentioned by very many critics.  If they could survive the wait and not be diminished by it, then why can’t their female counterparts?

From Marvel to DC, from Star Trek to Andre Norton’s Witch World series, from Star Wars to Howl’s Moving Castle and its sequels, there is no end of proof that women can be as bold and brave as the men in their lives – and they can be as bold without compromising their womanhood.

This is what modern writers, filmmakers, and artists no longer consider.  In fact they are actively running away from this truth because it has become passé to portray a woman as she actually is.  Instead a fictional heroine must be displayed as something other than a woman.  You go to the theaters to see the latest films and most of the women in these movies have no problem cutting off men’s heads or disemboweling them.  Not only do they have no physical problem doing it, which many of them should, but they also have no moral qualms about doing it.

Image result for wonder woman filmThe Wonder Woman movie out next year promises to be a case in point.  I was once a big fan of Wonder Woman.  This was not because of her strength or because of her Lasso of Truth.  No, I liked her because of these things and the fact that she was still a woman.  Throughout her adventures with the JLA, Diana learned to respect and like her male teammates, to appreciate their abilities and welcome them as friends.  Later series even had her dating Batman!

But recent rewrites by DC Comics have turned Wonder Woman into a bloodthirsty man-hater.  It is true that in the coming film she is going to fall in love with Steve Trevor (portrayed by Chris Pine).  While she is doing that, though, she will also be happily carving men to pieces and telling women that being secretaries is the equivalent of slavery.  You would think she came from an alternate universe and not an island inhabited by Greek warrior women.

All of this detracts from the real power of women.  By portraying a woman as what she is not, these writers and artists are not elevating women.  They are demeaning and demoting them.

The fictional heroine who easily encapsulates what a real warrior woman can and should be is Éowyn of Rohan from The Lord of the Rings.  Secretly joining the Rohirrim’s army as it marches to battle in Gondor, she is the one who defeats the Witch-king, the leader of the Nine Ringwraiths or Názgul.  Merry, taken into Gondor by her when she wore the guise of a male Rider, helps her with a well-placed sword-thrust.  But it is Éowyn who ultimately strikes the fatal blow and wins a great victory in the glorious Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

Still, many Feminists go into apoplectic fits over Éowyn’s role in The Lord of the Rings novels despite her amazing display of courage and fighting skill.  Why?  They do this because Éowyn leaves war behind forever when she decides to accept Faramir’s proposal of marriage after recovering from her battle with the Witch-king.  That particular passage reads thus:

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Then the heart of Éowyn changed, or else at last she understood it. And suddenly her winter passed, and the sun shone on her.

‘I stand in Minas Anor, the Tower of the Sun,’ she said; ‘and behold! the Shadow has departed! I will be a shieldmaiden no longer, nor vie with the great Riders, nor take joy only in the songs of slaying. I will be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren.’

Image result for eowyn and faramirThe thing Feminists do not understand – or the thing which they absolutely refuse to accept – is that Éowyn’s triumph in battle does not define her.  She did an amazing, wonderful thing, which most other people could never accomplish.  Her decision to marry Faramir does not render her defeat of the Witch-king any less; rather, her decision to marry is the reward she earned in that fight.

Éowyn’s part in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields does not define her identity, and most Feminists want that stereotype to define and limit her.  This is most of Éowyn’s own problem in the trilogy until she falls in love with Faramir.  Up to that point, she believes that battle will give her satisfaction.  Poisoned along with Théoden by Wormtongue’s whisperings, in her confusion and slow descent into despair Éowyn decides that only death in battle will give her a chance at glory and renown.

Now, readers, the fact is that death is not a fulfillment of life.  It is the end of life, and if you ally yourself with death, you are allying yourself with the Enemy.

In Minas Tirith – originally named Minas Anor or ‘Tower of the Sun’ – Éowyn finally comes to see that battle is not where she can be most useful when she is at last confronted by Faramir’s genuine love for her.  Being a warrior is not her calling, although she can certainly wield a sword as well as any man.  Her vocation in life is being a woman, a wife, and eventually a mother.

Through Éowyn the author of the trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkien, demonstrates that a woman is not made by her fighting ability.  She is distinguished by her will, her womanhood and – if she is lucky – by her motherhood.  “For the hand that rocks the cradle is that hand that rules the world.”  Mothers shape their children, daughters and sons both.  These daughters and sons will grow up to change the world through the things they do, the things they create, and the children they bring into the universe.

Modern media has largely forsaken this understanding of womanhood at the behest of the Hegelian/Nietzschean complex, the modern incarnation of Sauron.  There has been a war going on for the past century or three which most have not paid heed to.  This has led to nothing but a lot of pain for women, who have been persuaded as a group to throw away the knowledge that they once possessed. Their honor is their womanhood and it is our societal honor to know them as such.

Mockingbird

This is why I have taken issue with Jane Foster’s identity change, not to mention the identity change of several other formerly male characters.  This is why I have written two posts on strong women.  It is an attempt to remind women of what we truly are and what we can actually achieve.  For when women stop valuing themselves as women, society stops valuing them as well, and then that society sooner rather than later treats them like chattel.

ISIS does this on a daily basis.  Slave traders and sex traffickers rely on such attitudes to do “business.”  The shout of “I am Woman, hear me roar!” has led to nothing but pain and sorrow for millions of women.  They have chosen to debase themselves.  This means they are no longer worthy of special respect and value to men.  For if women do not value themselves as women, as potential wives and mothers, then why should men?

Does all this mean that a woman cannot fight?  Pshaw.  Éowyn fought, did she not?  It is not possible that she forgot how to swing a sword after marrying Faramir.  She simply did not make a living fighting – and for the record, neither did he!  The heroines of Marvel Comics fight; the women in Star Trek and Star Wars fight.  The will to fight is the influential factor.  Just ask the mothers and wives who grabbed a gun to help defend against Indian raids or bandits back in the Old West!  Or those that defend themselves and their families similarly today.

But if a woman wants to make a career as a warrior, she cannot try and be the equal of the men.  This can never be, for the simple fact that no amount of human interference – psychological or scientific – can overwrite what she is.  And if a woman decides she wishes to be a “shieldmaiden,” then she had better be prepared for what could happen to her on the field of battle.  Torture, the loss of life and limb, rape – these are just some of the risks which I can see ahead of a female soldier.  An enemy who does not value life – and there are many of those today – can be abominably creative in the management of prisoners.  Just ask Dean Koontz.

Han and Leia

Does all this mean that I believe a woman should not be prepared to fight?  Civilization is a very, very fragile construction.  One small thing goes out of whack and entire nations fall to their knees.  Women definitely need to know how to defend themselves.  They have always needed to know this.

But what women need to relearn is that it is not battle which will define them.  Battle does not define a man, so how can it define a woman?  A man or a woman is defined by who and what they are.  A man is defined by his manhood, a woman by her womanhood.  That is all there is to it.

This is not weakness.  It is not slavery.  Knowing who and what you are is not a defect; it is a strength.  Being proud of being a man or a woman is what gives one the will to fight, to protect oneself from those who do not appreciate you for who and what you are.  Muscles, weapons, skills – these are the tools.  They are not the determining factors.  We, men and women, are the weapons.

Until writers at Marvel, DC, Star Trek, and elsewhere figure that out, though, we will have to endure continuous watered-down portrayals of heroines in many stories.  Until these “artists” ask themselves, “What really makes a strong woman?”, they will continue coming up with the wrong answers.

Readers, I will give Mr. L’Amour the last word on this subject:

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She’ll stand to it.  There’s a likely craft, lad, and one to sail any sea.  You can see it in the clear eyes of her and the way she carries her head.  Give me always a woman with pride, and pride of being a woman.  She’s such a one. – from The Warrior’s Path

Amen, readers.  Amen!

The Mithril Guardian

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A Review of Avengers Assemble’s “Captain Marvel”

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It is no secret how this blogger regards Carol Danvers.  I prefer to ignore her existence entirely as a general rule, being particularly insulting when I do mention her.  But there are certain times when this character must be acknowledged and mentioned, or even discussed at length.  Having seen the Avengers Assemble episode “Captain Marvel,” it seems that this is one of those times.  I have largely left my disparaging comments at the door.  This is an entirely different kind of post from previous articles.

One of the men who helped to create the Carol Danvers solo series reportedly stated that a reader of the comics, “…might see a parallel between her [Carol Danvers’] quest for identity, and the modern woman’s quest for raised consciousness, for self-liberation, for identity.” (Did anyone else miss the point of that convoluted quote?  I did.)

This description by writer Gerry Conway opens a window into Danvers’ role in the Marvel Universe(s).   From his suggestion it is possible to see that Carol Danvers is intended to be the Feminist epitome:  she is stronger than most of her male compatriots, faster than them, she shoots energy beams from her hands, and she is nigh indestructible.  Feminism’s consistent cry that, “Women are just as good as men,” is perfectly played out in Danvers’ character.

However, the results are far from flattering for women.  Captain Marvel’s most endearing quality is her superpowers; in creating the Uber Woman, Marvel missed the mark by a good many miles.

This is something which Marvel Comics seems to have tacitly recognized, although they have not admitted it aloud in interviews or writing.  Instead they told us in the early 2000s that they were “determined to have the character take center stage in the Marvel Universe.”  Apparently they have chosen to use this time to do this.  They have changed her codename to Captain Marvel, given her a new suit, and a new personality in order to make her a more central character in their universe(s).

But so far these changes have not made Danvers any more important to the brand than she has been for the last five and a half decades.  It is also worth noting that Marvel has tried relabeling the character in the past.  Carol Danvers has worn two other alternate codenames since she debuted as Ms. Marvel; these were the monikers Binary and Warbird.  Neither of these names lasted very long – the writers inevitably ended up falling back on her original codename after trying to make her new guises “stick.”

Why did they have to return to her original name?  Marvel Comics has never definitively stated any reason why, to the best of this writer’s knowledge.  But if I had to guess, it was because her new names were unable to generate an appropriately large and suitably well-paying fan base.

If at first you don’t succeed, however, try, try again.  Marvel is attempting the same rebranding trick now.  This time, though, they have gone a step further by overhauling Danvers’ personality.  Previously Danvers simply changed suits and codenames, while her personality remained intact.  But if the Avengers Assemble episode “Captain Marvel” is any indication, her new characterization is no more helpful than her previous deportment.  If anything, it is far more exasperating.

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Instead of continuing in her former mild-mannered, polite aspect, Danvers’ debut episode within the Assemble universe shows her rudely cutting across the male Avengers’ courteous pleasantries and interrupting their valid questions or comments.  But the most aggravating of all is her continuous, offhand dismissals of the men’s warnings and help during combat.  Her attitude, once about as offensive as a pebble’s, has been altered so that she is snobby, arrogant, and Matronizing.  Where she once could not be heard for being polite, now she cannot say “Hello” without it sounding derogatory.

This is not a winning portrayal for the character, and it only gets worse as the episode progresses.  During the show Danvers repeatedly mocks the male Avengers when they extend their assistance and friendship.  She scoffs at their suggestions that she may need their help in the present or in the future.  She also scathingly refuses their offer of a place on the team – which she eventually receives anyway.  Danvers looks down on all the men on the team during the episode.  Yet this should be hard to do if she is supposed to be as good as they are, shouldn’t it?  If they are on the same level, she cannot look down on them.  She has to look them in the eyes.

This does not occur within the show at all.

As for Danvers’ hypothetical “friendships” with the male Avengers, those appear to be non-existent by all but the most desperate measurements.  The most frustrating of these “amities” within the episode is the supposed Air Force/Army rivalry she shares with Cap.  It is true that the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force have something of an affable rivalry.  So do the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps.  But this theoretical source of contention between Danvers and Cap within the episode is nothing less than a thinly veiled attempt to make Captain Marvel look good, while at the same time putting Steve Rogers in her shadow.

What happens, entertainingly, is the reverse.  As he does in most cases, during the show Cap stands above Danvers without half trying.  Cap demonstrates his usual magnanimity, courtesy, and the benefits of his experience during the show.  And he does this with his usual just-a-kid-from-Brooklyn charm.  Danvers on the other hand suffers in this “rivalry.”  She comes across as a small-minded, bigoted, and egotistical fool.  She disdains Cap’s assistance, his generosity, and the benefits of his experience.

This is not a way for ANY character, new or old, to make a good impression on viewers.  It is the best way to lower the audience’s opinion of her.

Falcon is similarly discriminated against by Danvers in her dialogue with him.  Left to fawn over Danvers as if she is a great heroine whom he has always wanted to meet, Sam receives no real reply for his manly deference.  In answer to his admiration Danvers persistently sidelines him in conversation and belittles his ability in combat – until Sam’s considerable technological and flying skills are needed to help save the day.  Then she is all praise and pats on the back.

Sam Wilson deserves better than that, people.  He has earned better.

Thor is also left to play the stereotype.  Thor is made to look like a callow buffoon during the adventure; throughout the show he is clearly supposed to represent the man who is emblematic of the “modern Neanderthal” who would rather smash things than think.  This “requires” Captain Marvel to “rein him in” on several occasions.  She literally grabs hold of his arms in one instance, which is utterly infuriating.  Why?

The Prince of Thunder is entirely capable of thinking, being particularly clever in his own right.  While Thor may prefer banging down the front door to picking the lock on the back entrance, the fact is that he is adaptable to the situation at hand.  To portray him as a backward, muscle-bound rube demeans not only the character but his audience.

We are not amused.

But what stood out to me the most when I was reflecting on this episode is the fact that Danvers and the Black Widow never exchange pleasantries, let alone dialogue, within this show.  Unlike most of the guys, Natasha does not bother to try and interrupt Danvers while she brags about saving the team from being “exploded.”  Most important to note, she also does not join in the other woman’s steady verbal abuse of the men.

I believe that this is something the writers overlooked, and that in future episodes they will try to rectify what I have pointed out.  However, I also believe that there can be no commiseration between these two female characters over the “vanity” of men.  There are two reasons for this.  First, Natasha was conceived as a genuine female character and legitimate heroine from the start.  She was not created as a bone to be tossed to the Femi-Nazis.  Having clawed her way up and out of that mentality when she defected from the Soviet Union, Natasha is determined not to fall back into such a trap.

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Second, while Captain Marvel now bashes the guys simply for being men, Natasha respects and appreciates her male teammates much as she always has.  She recognizes the value of her male friends not only for what they can do, but for who they are as men.  For instance, their manhood is what makes them naturally concerned for her welfare because she is a woman.  Even when she is in a situation which she can handle (or believes she can handle) herself, they do not leave their natural male concern for her at the door.

Natasha does not scorn this concern from her male teammates, as Danvers does.  Rather, she welcomes it.  Yes, it can irritate Natasha if the guys are not quite quick enough to figure out her plan and they begin to question her, fearing that she is preparing to do something rash or particularly dangerous.  But if she does end up in over her head, then she knows they have her back, even when she thinks she does not need them there.  The male Avengers’ evident desire to keep her safe does not enslave the Black Widow.  It frees her.  Natasha knows her male friends have her best interests at heart.  They do not want to exploit her, they want to protect her and be there for her.

Why am I so certain of this?  How can I be sure that the writers not only overlooked writing dialogue for Natasha and Danvers but that, if they tried to do it so that the two agreed on the “ineptitude” of men, such a discourse would ring false?

I can be sure of this fact because the Black Widow has been exploited by men in the past.  She was subjugated from her earliest years by the men (and the women) who created and maintained the Soviets’ Red Room program.  She was an expendable tool to them.  This resulted not in self-liberation for her but in a non-existent childhood, during which she was expected to behave and function as an adult.  This was then followed by an early adulthood completely devoid of compassion, friendship, happiness, and respect.  The men in charge of the Red Room did not value Natasha – they used, manipulated, and abused her.  And while they did this they considered her to be “just as good as a man” at her job.

We know how Natasha feels about this.  She regrets her past sins while under the Soviets’ control, and she was so determined that they would never get the chance to mistreat women again that she shut down the original Red Room program, presumably with extreme prejudice.  In the episode “Seeing Double,” the writers established 2R – the rebuilt Red Room program – in the Assemble universe.  Natasha’s first round against Widow wannabe Yelena Belova showed that she desires to end this new program of enslavement in the Soviet mold, too.  Looking at her attitude in this case, how can we think that the Black Widow would turn around and support a twisted feminism which views women in the same unsavory light that the Soviets did?

The male Avengers, unlike her Soviet handlers, do not use, manipulate, or abuse Natasha.  Only the most confused would claim such lunacy.  Natasha is a member of the team by her own choice, and her male friends never ask her to take risks outside of her ken.  On the occasions the risks to her during a mission are considered too high by the men, she usually takes those on herself, always over their protests.  When this happens, she does not accuse them of believing that she cannot handle the crisis.  The Soviets, remember, considered her expendable.  The male Avengers do not.

If you contrast the Black Widow with Danvers, you will see just how boorish, petulant, and childish Captain Marvel’s new characterization is compared to Natasha Romanoff’s.  As an immediate example from the episode under discussion, Black Widow illustrates her high opinion of her male friends when she asks Hawkeye what happened on the mission in Helsinki that Danvers had mentioned.  His emphatic “Do not want to talk about it,” earns an affectionate smile from Natasha, not a scoff of irritation at his imaginary “manly stubbornness.”

Now weigh Natasha’s fond expression against Danvers’ sneering “You’re adorable” remark after Hawkeye saves her from a Kree drone missed in an earlier battle.  It puts everything in perspective and easily demonstrates which woman is the better heroine and person.  Danvers was in the process of asking for help from the Avengers when Hawkeye acted first and destroyed the drone.  He was kind enough to not only to save her from the device but to “spare” her the need to ask for aid, repaying her for her help in Helsinki.  And yet she responds by treating him as though he was a teenager showboating for the lady?  Which knucklehead wrote that brilliant little bit of dialogue?

In their attempt to make the Uber Woman when they revamped Danvers’ character, Marvel Comics has instead made an uber failure.  Carol Danvers is supposed to represent the 21st century woman?  I would rather be represented by a stray cat.  A female cat may be haughty, but at least she never pretends to be anything less than she actually is.

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“But, Mithril,” I hear some of you complain, “everybody says/knows Carol Danvers has been popular throughout her history!  You cannot help but admit that, even if you do not think she is particularly great!”

Okay, let us say for the sake of argument that Carol Danvers is, actually, as popular as Marvel Comics insists she is.  If this is so, then why have they changed her codename throughout her career?  Most heroes who have had many codenames over the course of their history have had to do this in order to find the one which “fits” them best.  It is a bit late in the game for Danvers to still be searching for the perfect moniker.  Her first codename worked just fine.  I know this because I cannot shake the habit of using it in verbal conversation.  I would use it in writing if it would not confuse the issue, but that is not possible since Kamala Khan started using the call sign Ms. Marvel.

And if Danvers is so popular, why did Marvel feel it necessary to say in the early 2000s that they planned to make her “take center stage in the Marvel Universe”?  If she has “always” been popular with the fans/readers, then they should not have had to do this.  They have not done it with the Wasp, the Invisible Woman, or the Scarlet Witch.  In fact, almost all of their other leading heroines’ monikers remained the same coming into the new millennium, and have remained unaltered.  Why does Carol Danvers need special attention if she has always been – and continues to be – so popular?

Why has Marvel given Danvers such a radical personality alteration?  Costumes come and go over the years, but personalities are seldom revamped in this manner.  If Carol Danvers is – and always has been – as popular as they claim, then why has Marvel Comics had to strive so hard over the course of her existence to make her impress their readers?  Why can she not stand on her own two feet, like all of Marvel’s other famous heroes and heroines have down through the decades?

The Avengers’ Mansion/Tower is popular as well, readers.  It is prominent in almost every comic because it is the team’s base/home, and plenty of stories begin or end there.  Stan Lee said that he used to run into people on Fifth Avenue who were looking for the Avengers’ Mansion.  It was popular enough to prompt people visiting New York City to go out and look for it.

Is it possible – just possible – that Carol Danvers has been “popular” for the same reason as the Avengers’ home?  After all, if the writers and artists place Danvers in every comic they can besides her own solo series, then they may rightfully claim that she is popular based on the fact that she is present in many of the books they are selling.  They do not have to sell record numbers of issues from her solo series for her to be popular.  They just have to sell comics where she is present in some manner to make her so.

The fact of the matter is that Carol Danvers is a token player.  And since token players have no real use or value to readers/viewers, they are almost impossible to keep afloat for as long as Marvel has managed to maintain Danvers’ existence.  This is a feat of determination which deserves applause as such.  But in terms of helping the company, it is just an attempt to maintain an idea which has proved to be more harmful than helpful.

Personally, I think the company would be better served focusing on the heroines they have who are actually emblematic of real women.  Because the character of Carol Danvers will ALWAYS be inferior to these other heroines, and no amount of cosmetic changes or personality alterations will amend that fact.  This is the truth, readers…

… whether Marvel Comics likes it or not.

Until next time,

The Mithril Guardian

Image result for avengers assemble ultron revolution

Offended, Insulted, and Not Shutting Up

Hey, readers! We regret that we must interrupt this programming with another little piece of criticism aimed at Marvel’s Hierarchy of Seneschals.

Yes, I just called them that. Until they either wake up or are replaced by people who actually know what they are doing, I am not changing that moniker.

Marvel announced that in the next season of their animated series, Avengers Assemble (to be re-titled Avengers: Secret Wars), Jane Foster will debut as “Thor.” Some of you, certainly, see no problem with this. But several other fans, including me, have had problems with this change since it was made in the comics. See the links below to find out how much we dislike it:

http://comicvine.gamespot.com/thor/4005-2268/forums/i-like-jane-foster-as-thor-but-i-dont-1697781/

http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2014/07/say-it-aint-so-stan-female-thor.html

http://community.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?582-By-the-Gods!-It-s-THOR-Appreciation/page52

http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/02/14/female-thor-is-what-happens-when-progressive-hand-wringing-and-misandry-ruin-a-cherished-art-form/

https://voxday.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/men-in-women-suits.html

http://kaimaciel.tumblr.com/post/144803890339/my-honest-opinion-on-jane-foster-as-thor

http://www.comics2film.com/if-she-be-worthy-thor-jane-foster-marvel-101/

While I am not a huge fan of the Prince of Thunder, the fact is that I do like him, and I prefer him as a Prince, that is, a male heir to the throne of Asgard. Jane Foster is an agreeable character, and I would be excited to see her in the TV series. But I would prefer that she debuted as herself: no superhuman powers, no magic hammers, none of the “new” idiocy with which the writers and their handlers have decided to outfit her.

Jane Foster’s strength was once her “mortality,” her humanity. It would not matter to me if she turned up in the cartoon as a nurse or as an astrophysicist, as she is portrayed in the films. She has carried herself well in both those fields of endeavor; as either of these professions and many others suit her character.

Yet Marvel, in its attempts to stay ahead of the latest fads, decided this was not good enough for her. Someone, somewhere, must have complained about the enchantment on Thor’s hammer, which of course read: “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall wield the power of Thor.” A lot of people are getting hung up on pronouns such as “he” and “she.” “He” is what they come down against most vehemently nowadays.

To raise Cain (ooh, how gender-specific of me) over such an inconsequential thing is beyond dim-witted. Mjolnir can be wielded by whoever is worthy. That can be a man, a woman, an alien (remember Beta Ray Bill?), or an android (did we all forget Vision that fast?). The inscription is a generic; if a worthy lady had come along and picked up Mjolnir, the only reason Thor would have been astonished was because he is used to lifting the hammer, not sharing it with others.

Thor has been a male character for more than a thousand years, since he was created by the Ancient Norse. And, as others have pointed out, Marvel’s version of Thor has been adored by thousands of girls everywhere right from the get-go. His fan base is not getting any smaller, people, and neither are the crushes on him.

But in an effort to appease the talking heads, Marvel has disregarded the feelings of its fans – you and me – in order to curry favor with the ‘elites.’ Never mind that we are the ones who have supported Marvel all these years, they are determined to continue flogging dead horses in order to receive the praise of people who otherwise sniff condescendingly at them and their medium.

Yes, you read that right. I called this gender-switch for Thor a dead horse. It is a dead horse. It has been a dead horse for decades, but the ‘intelligensia’ is so desperate to keep making money off of it that they insist it is still twitching. People continue to scream about women being oppressed in the United States and Europe because, for instance, they “do not make as much money” as men.

Have a look at these links here, readers, and see if you agree with that assessment:

 

ISIS Burns Caged Women

http://nytlive.nytimes.com/womenintheworld/2016/06/06/19-women-burned-to-death-after-refusing-to-have-sex-with-isis-fighters/

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/06/06/19-yazidi-girls-burned-alive-for-refusing-to-have-sex-with-their-isis-captors.html

http://www.wnd.com/2016/06/isis-burns-19-girls-alive-for-refusing-sex-slavery/

 

Persecution of Christians by ISIS

http://www.wnd.com/2014/12/nun-pleads-for-christians-raped-sold-killed-by-isis/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/425942077231304272/

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/10/05/report-syrian-christians-cry-jesus-isis-mass-beheading/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3261075/ISIS-sliced-12-year-old-Syrian-boy-s-fingertips-father-Christians-failed-bid-convert-Islam-executed-group-victims-shouted-Jesus.html

https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/attacks/christian-attacks.aspx

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-crucifies-children-for-not-fasting-during-ramadan-in-syria-10338215.html

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/07/02/isis-executioners-spare-no-one-killing-74-children-for-crimes-including-not.html

 

Jihadi Brides

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-s-austrian-poster-girl-jihadi-brides-have-changed-their-minds-and-want-to-come-home-9789547.html

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/577347/British-twin-girl-jihadi-brides-want-to-return-to-home

http://nypost.com/2014/10/10/pregnant-teen-girls-who-joined-isis-weve-made-a-huge-mistake/

http://ijr.com/2014/12/220140-150-women-refused-isis-sex-brides-terrorists-responded-heinous-way/

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/08/12/uk-teen-girl-who-went-to-isis-area-syria-reported-killed.html

 

Rape Abroad

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/07/10/leaked-document-says-2000-men-allegedly-assaulted-1200-german-women-on-new-years-eve/

http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/01/21/revealed-full-list-of-1049-victims-crimes-committed-during-cologne-new-years-eve-sex-assaults/

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/636944/Cologne-sex-attacks-list-crimes

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3684302/1-200-German-women-sexually-assaulted-New-Year-s-Eve-Cologne-elsewhere.html

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35231046

https://www.buzzfeed.com/jinamoore/cologne-attacks-on-women?utm_term=.tk5ewAR5Y#.lujLvXlo9

 

Women in the U.S. do not know how good they have it. That is the truth.

Why is Marvel so determined to gender-switch characters like Thor and Iron Man when they have real-life stories like these, which are far more important and only a few minutes from their fingertips, to incorporate into their comics? In the 1940s they lampooned Hitler, and in the 1950s and 60s, they bashed the Communists. But in this brave new world, they are suddenly afraid to so much as mention the beasts that burn women in cages for refusing to be sex slaves? Why would they rather have us watching Captain America be “revealed” to be a secret HYDRA operative, when the real HYDRA (better known as ISIS) is out and about in the world beheading and crucifying children?

Do they really think that we are buffoons with such banal interests that our only care is why the inscription on Mjolnir says “he” instead of “person”? More to the point, readers, is this how you want the people running Marvel to think of you? It is not how I want them to think about me, that is for sure!

But apparently they not only believe we are navel-gazing twits, they are extremely eager to shove that belief down our throats – along with the notion that they “have” to do this because their universe has “too few” super heroines.

That is guff spewed by people who do not know what they are talking about, and I can prove it. Below is a roll call of some female Marvel heroines that regularly see – or have regularly seen – combat in the Marvel Universe:

  1. The Invisible Woman/Sue Storm-Richards
  2. Wasp/Janet van Dyne
  3. Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff
  4. Mockingbird/Bobbi Morse
  5. Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff
  6. Mantis
  7. Moondragon
  8. Hellcat/Patricia Walker
  9. She-Hulk/Jennifer Walters
  10. The Blonde Phantom
  11. Miss America
  12. White Tiger/Ava Ayallah
  13. Squirrel Girl
  14. Spectrum/Monica Rambeau
  15. Carol Danvers
  16. Sharon Carter
  17. Crystal of the Inhumans
  18. Medusa, Queen of the Inhumans
  19. Storm/Ororo Munroe
  20. Jean Grey
  21. Psylocke
  22. X-23/Laura Kinney
  23. Jubilation Lee
  24. Firestar/Angelica Jones
  25. Surge
  26. Honey Lemmon
  27. Go-go Tomago
  28. Julia Carpenter
  29. Jessica Jones Cage
  30. Rescue/Pepper Potts
  31. Silver Sable
  32. Black Cat/Felicia Hardy
  33. Echo/Maya Lopez
  34. Firebird/Bonita Juárez
  35. Jocasta
  36. Dazzler
  37. Rogue/Anna Maria
  38. Shadowcat/Katherine “Kitty” Pryde
  39. Boom-Boom
  40. Silverclaw/Maria Santiago
  41. Quake/Daisy Johnson
  42. Jessica Drew
  43. Mirage/Danielle Moonstar
  44. Sif
  45. Valkyrie/Brunhilde
  46. Yellowjacket/Rita DeMara
  47. Gamora
  48. Lilandra
  49. Wolfsbane
  50. Elektra
  51. Dust
  52. Magma
  53. Misty Knight
  54. Colleen Wheeler
  55. Polaris/Lorna Dane
  56. Phoenix/Rachel Grey Summers
  57. Dagger
  58. Torunn
  59. Maria Hill
  60. Tigra
  61. Songbird/Melissa Gold
  62. Namora
  63. Namorita
  64. Darkstar
  65. Magick/Ilyana Rasputin
  66. Emma Frost
  67. Stature/Cassie Lang
  68. Siryn/Theresa Cassidy
  69. Sasquatch/Snowbird
  70. Domino
  71. Marrow
  72. Blink
  73. Kate Bishop

This is by no means a comprehensive list. Still, if this sample inventory has not made your eyes cross, then you should visit this site: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Marvel_Comics_characters:_A. It lists many, if not most, of Marvel’s characters. Scanning through it some years ago, I was left wondering why Marvel seemed to be having so much trouble coming up with new male characters, since they were adding more new females than males!

Now what reasonable critic can look at these catalogs and conclude that Marvel has “too few” heroines? Marvel’s heroines have always stood with their male counterparts to face down evil. But the fact is that some of these ladies have been and remain more popular than others. This is natural, and their male compatriots have suffered the same ebb and flow of fan admiration over the years. Some characters are simply more popular than others. This does not negate the existence of the less well-known male heroes, so why do people seem to think the reverse is true when discussing Marvel’s lesser known heroines?

Marvel has no need to gender-swap its male characters. Avengers Assemble is a perfect platform from which to show their less eminent or forgotten heroines and heroes. They could even use the series as a stage to create new heroines, the way Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends did in the 1980s.

This post was published for two reasons, readers. One, I have had a burning desire to tell off the ignorant critics of Marvel Comics for quite some time. If they want to evaluate Marvel’s characters properly, then they should do their research before they open their big, fat mouths. If they are too lazy or indifferent to do that, then they should sit down and shut up, leaving the people who do know and love Marvel’s characters to enjoy them undisturbed.

Second, I wanted to make clear to Marvel just how deeply offended and insulted I am, underscoring my latest letter to them. (BTW, thanks for all the views, Marvel. It is sooo nice of you to drop by! 😉 ) They believe that to keep my patronage they have to turn their fictional universe upside-down and inside out.

That is a perfect way to lose my money, not keep it. The Mainstream Marvel Universe which Stan Lee, Don Heck, Jim Romita, and all the others created is my favorite Marvel playground. And I want that universe, with all its flaws and foibles, back. This does not mean that I want the characters wearing their original costumes and hairstyles. I do not want them using radio and ‘60s slang. I simply want their histories and identities to stay fixed as they were originally conceived and, if possible, built up for the better.

Alternate universe spin-off comics, TV series, and movies are fun (with the exception of the Ultimate Universe). But they are not the universes I benefited from first. That universe – the 616 universe – is the one I love best and will always enjoy more than any other.

If Marvel thinks they have to ruin that world in order to keep my interest, then they have made a grave error. I understand that it is not easy to continue a series that has survived for fifty plus years. That is not the issue. The issue is Marvel’s desire to play patty-cake with people who despise them while using them as a tool. Once they are done, they will discard Marvel like a hot potato – and then what will become of the heroes we care for and the ideals for which they stand?

I do not want to see Marvel destroyed. I want to be able to share it with many more people over the coming years of my life. But I cannot follow a bunch of lemmings over a cliff into the ocean, nor will I allow them to lead others over said precipice into said sea. Not without a fight.

Whether you agree with this article or not, readers, think about what you read in the links embedded here. Learning is not simply memorizing mathematic formulae or deciding how to identify yourself. Education is supposed to teach you to how to think, not what you are to think. As long as you can think for yourself, the Enemy will have a more difficult time catching you.

I prefer not to be caught, and so I prefer to think. It is a whole lot harder to escape a trap than it is to avoid it in the first place.

So start thinking, Marvel!

Until the next mess,

The Mithril Guardian