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The news is out: Thor has somehow disgraced himself to the point where he will now wield a battle ax instead of Mjolnir, his trademark weapon from Norse mythology. The announcement was made during that comic friendly hour of daytime we know as The View that everyone's favorite carpenter of justice is going to abdicate his hammer to a new female protagonist who's followed his ways and will now usurp his place as the wielder of lightning. Which leaves the public, myself included, asking the ultimate question: how's this going to affect the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
While Marvel is no stranger to lady badasses and this move definitely does something for the diversity of The Avengers crew, it's a move that threatens the core demographic of the Thor films: women. Yes, the comic scene is dominated by a predominantly male audience, but do you honestly think Thor would have even made as much money as it did without Chris Hemsworth in the lead role? The man made his bones in Hollywood with this one role, and it's done him well. But could the Marvel Cinematic Universe survive with one of its key Avengers sidelined?
The answer is, yes. The big thing everyone seems to be forgetting here is that Thor will always be Thor. In fact, if you were to introduce this plot line into the plot of Thor 3, you'd make for a much more interesting Thor series. Once more, Thor wouldn't be able to just swing a hammer and solve things through calling down lightning. He'd have to rely on more traditional combat, which would still be pretty easy considering he's strong even without the hammer.
Also, considering how the ending of Thor: The Dark World leaves him living with Jane and Loki taking over Asgard, you'd have a perfect opportunity for one final battle between brothers and a sweet finale that would allow Thor to live without being a threat to Jane. Of course, he'd still be able to take up arms when he felt like it, and it would keep Chris Hemsworth involved while allowing a new female lead to also join the MCU. Considering Marvel could be setting itself up for nice and neat trilogy arcs for its characters, this would be a nice chance for an Iron Man 3 type ending.
As for a female "Thor," again, it would inject much needed diversity into the core group of The Avengers. With a new female member on the team, this sets the stage for more female members to join up eventually. But one change should be considered for the films. This character -- if she were to arrive on screen -- shouldn't be called Thor. It's not like she's replacing his spot in the Marvel Universe. She's inheriting the power of Mjolnir. I know the comics appear to be handing down the full mantle, name and everything, to the new female protagonist. But considering how fast and loose Marvel's played with continuity in the films before, it would benefit them to come up with a new name for their new heroine. Still, we are a long way from this happening on screen. It's just a possibility.
Make no mistake, though, Marvel's announcement is a huge shake up to the status quo of their superhero universe. It's uncertain how wide ranging the changes will be, but people have to remember these characters change all the time. For all we know, Thor will get his hammer back after a couple of years, or he might even manage to keep it in the films. Considering how good Marvel is with comic continuity in their filmed properties, this is still very much an option. Either way, a female wielder of Mjolnir is something that should be met with more of an open mind – especially if Marvel decides to throw us a curve ball and give either Kat Denning's character of Darcy or Jaime Alexander's Lady Sif the power of Thor. Imagine the possibilities!