Marvel Comics Just Revealed A Major Game Changer: Female Thor Has Breast Cancer

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We were jumping up and down with glee with Marvel Comics revealed in July 2014 that the new Thor was a woman. It caused quite a stir amongst die-hard comic book fans but it seems the new incarnation of the popular superhero based on Norse mythology is doing better than anticipated.

In fact, in its first year it has OUTSOLD all male Thor comic versions by 30%. Need we say more? It seems Marvel (well, one branch of the Marvel universe) is paying attention to its ever-growing female fan base and recognizing that it needs to cater to them also.

The latest edition of the comic book (issue 8) had two major reveals. The first was the woman behind the mask, which was Dr. Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman in the live-action blockbuster movies. The second reveal toward the end of the issue was that she has breast cancer, and her Thor powers are actually making her worse. It seems wielding Mjolnir from the original Thor who was no longer considered worthy of the hammer it now taking its toll on Jane, who if you remember from the movies, is an astrophysicist who followed Thor to Valhalla.

After seeing a series of images of a powerful warrior who defeats the Destroyer (the fire-breathing metallic giant from the movie), we are shown a vastly different image of Thor where she doesn’t have her superhero outfit on and is unmasked.

“I am Dr. Jane Foster. And I will not stop being the mighty Thor. Even though it is killing me,” she says in the caption.

“This world needs a Thor. A god who loves the Earth enough to die for it.”

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With this shocking reveal comes the weight of a storyline we hope Marvel will do justice to. Breast cancer is a serious topic and perhaps the popular comic franchise wants to appeal to female audiences by tackling real issues they face. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, and developed countries like the US and the UK have a higher rate of cases. In 2012 it was estimated that 1.7 million new cases of breast cancer occurred in women globally.

So how will the writers deal with this issue in the coming editions?

One of the comic book writers Jason Aaron, whose idea it was to have Dr. Jane Foster as Thor because she is so integral to the Thor mythology, told the New York Times that now it has been revealed who Thor is and that she has breast cancer, the real story will begin. He also mentioned that the creation of female Thor has brought about a change in the culture of comic books amongst women.

“Most of the new readers seem to be women and young girls, which is great. You’re seeing more and more comics that appeal to that audience. Usually when I say I write comics for a living, I kind of get blank stares. Now, when I say I write Thor, they say, ‘You’re the lady Thor guy?’ Yup. That’s me.”

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In an interview with MTV news, Marvel editor Will Moss said it was a logical decision to have Jane as Thor and how awesome it is that they have the chance to do something different with her newly-revealed story line.

“There was something more to it, this nice Marvel element in the fact that she’s doing this despite the fact that she has cancer. It adds this level of tragedy to it and sacrifice that especially made this a nice choice for what Thor can be. We didn’t want it, because it was a superhero story, to come across as trivial or that we were trying to put a coat of paint on this, like “oh, here’s something else this Thor can be!.” It’s something that Jason and artist Russell Dauterman definitely took into consideration as they were making this story, to portray it — and they will continue to portray it, because the story’s only just begun — they’re gonna treat the situation with the respect it deserves,” he said.

The writers have already been receiving messages of gratitude from readers who themselves had have loved ones pass away from breast cancer, saying the Thor story has reminded them of how heroic the women in their life were.

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MTV asked Will if there is a chance we would see this storyline played out on the big screen with Natalie Portman, to which he answered he has no idea. Although the writers and editors work with Marvel Studios, they aren’t privvy to their day-to-day decisions.

If there was a possibility that Marvel’s first female superhero were to be female Thor, we along with many other fans (including the 30% more readers of the female comic than the male version) would be stoked!

In the meantime, we are excited to see how Dr. Jane’s ordeal will play out in the comics.

“Thor’s got a tough job ahead of her, because Odin does not want her to be Thor, she’s dealing with cancer as well. She’s got a big uphill battle. So if we do more Thor stories, she’s going to have a lot to deal with. Jason has so much more planned for this character that it’s exciting to be able to actually get to that point now. Now he doesn’t have to hide behind the need to keep her identity secret from the readers,” said Will about Thor’s future.

We think it is very important that they are exploring this topic of breast cancer and hope it will be an opportunity to shed light on what sufferers and survivors go through in a different way. It’s easy to read a media report or hear about statistics, but often art and entertainment can present a new perspective that allows people to think about an issue in ways that traditional media cannot.

Great move Marvel!

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