Thor, Captain America and 3 other comic diversity shockers

The new female Thor

Marvel faces political correctness jibes as Thor becomes woman and Captain America turns black

LAST UPDATED AT 15:49 ON Thu 17 Jul 2014

Marvel shocked the comic book world this week by declaring that Thor will be a woman. "This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe," announced series writer Jason Aaron. Many comic book fans took to Twitter to decry the gender-switch as "political correctness gone mad". Then, just as the news began to settle – POW – Marvel announced that the mantle of Captain America will be taken on by the black character Falcon, firing up the debate once again. But this is by no means the first time that comic book writers have strayed away from the straight, white male superhero...

Female Thor

Marvel faced a round of abuse after Tuesday's announcement. Accusations of political correctness flooded Twitter, along with some misogynistic slurs and a few people outraged that Norse mythology had been gravely subverted. But others have argued that it is a reasonable change as Thor's power is embedded in his hammer Mjolnir, which can be possessed by whosoever is "worthy". In the past this has included the Hulk, Superman and even Storm and Wonder Woman. The New Statesman points out that Thor has also been replaced by an alien space horse and a frog in the past, so why not a woman?

Black Captain America

Yesterday Marvel announced that the current Captain America, Steve Rogers, will pass his star-spangled shield on to Sam Wilson, a black character known as the Falcon. With just 24 hours to digest Thor's new gender, some fans simply refused to accept the change. The move was described on Twitter as "ridiculous", with an outpouring of jokes about which characters would be next to undergo the diversity treatment. But the Washington Post insists that Sam Wilson is a "top choice" – not because he is black but because he is Captain America's long-time partner and "one of his most trusted allies".

Muslim Ms Marvel

In November last year, Marvel introduced a new Ms Marvel, Kamala Khan, a 16-year-old daughter of Pakistani immigrants living in New Jersey. Created by Muslim-convert G Willow Wilson, Khan replaced Carol Danvers, the original blond-haired, blue-eyed Ms Marvel. Some critics branded it as cheap marketing ploy. Others worried that it might reinforce cultural stereotypes with storylines about Khan's conservative parents. Nevertheless, Khan received positive reviews, including Comic Vine's summary that she made a "delightful debut, showing confidence and heart".

Gay Green Lantern

DC Comics outed Alan Scott's Green Lantern as gay in 2012, with the Earth 2 comic showing him kissing his boyfriend. It prompted a backlash from some Christian-based conservative groups, who threatened to boycott the series. Author James Robinson said the decision was signed off by his bosses "without hesitation" and told the New York Post: "He's very much the character he was. He's still the pinnacle of bravery and idealism. He's also gay."

Black Hispanic Spider-Man

There was uproar when Marvel announced that Miles Morales, a black Hispanic teenager, would take on the alter ego of Spider-Man in 2011. Mostly this was because people mistakenly thought that Peter Parker had been completely replaced, which was not the case – Miles was part of a separate series offering a fresh take on Marvel characters. Miles's series did not sell as many copies as the traditional Spider-Man comic, but Axel Alonso, the editor in chief of Marvel Entertainment, said the character had helped bring in new readers. He told the New York Times: "When you see Spider-Man strip down his mask and he looks like you, you are more inspired to pick up that book."

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