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Lately, Marvel Comics has been shaking things up. The internets lost its collective mind last year when Marvel announced that one of their most beloved and iconic characters, Thor, would be portrayed by a female. Along those lines, Marvel gave us a new, African-American Captain America. Now, the entertainment giant is purposefully trying to break the interweb, as well as gender and race stereotypes, as Thor and Captain America forge a relationship, sealed with a kiss, in an upcoming comic series.
The announcement was made via a post on Marvel Senior Editor Ben Morse’s Twitter page, where he tweeted an image depicting the two superheroes in a midair lip lock in an image that was painted by legendary comic artist Alex Ross.
It is said in entertainment that as long as you’re getting a reaction, good or bad, you’re doing your job. If that holds true, Marvel is killing it. The internet nearly pulled itself apart after Morse posted this pic, with half of the fanboys universe in favor of the pair’s romantic link and celebrating the beauty depicted in the art, while the other half used the event as an excuse to dump all over Marvel, not merely for employing what they view as nothing more than a PR stunt, but for the general quality of their comic storytelling in general. That's the half that is locked in on everything staying the same for the next 100 years because God forbid CHANGE, right?
In the image, Captain America (who is now portrayed by Sam Wilson), is shown kissing Jane Foster, who recently assumed the Mjolnir in taking on the role of Thor. Formerly Falcon, Wilson accepted the shield of Cap following long-time Captain America Steve Rogers’ retirement and personal appointment. In 2015, Foster is realized to be the worthy of wielding Thor’s iconic hammer and she now dons the cape while also joining the comic book Avengers.
The romantic pairing will be revealed in January 2016 with the release of Marvel’s new All-New, All-Different Marvel initiative, which will unite the 616 and Ultimate Marvel universes. Along with this merging has come a company mandate to reflect greater diversity and cultural representation throughout Marvel’s storytelling and character development. Included in this movement is another Marvel move that has set the online world ablaze, which is the announcement of the introduction of a female Wolverine, presumably following the death of James Howlett, better known as Logan.
Logan’s death was a major comic event this year, and unlike DC’s troubled New 52 project which sought to hit the reset button on decades of established canon in a futile attempt to out-special event Marvel, the house that Stan Lee built has moved toward end-capping several storylines and character arcs, if only as temporary stop gaps so that their returns will be themselves noted events. It's combining universes featuring the same characters that have existed alongside one another for years, and in doing so, Marvel is also providing an alternative look at these iconic characters without having to answer for previously scorched earth.
Die-hard comic book fans will always find something to be outraged or dissatisfied about, but this marks an exciting evolution for Marvel. Comic books have always been a reflection of what is going on in society. It’s how comics engage with and reach an audience. It made no sense to continue the whitewashing of these characters when our society’s culture continues to become more of a diverse melting pot. By being willing to adapt, Marvel is opening the door for people of all walks and cultures to be able to identify with these iconic characters, and this may help bring a more culturally diverse audience to a comic book medium in serious need of a larger audience.