I was tired of it as soon as it began. Marvel, the publisher of many of my childhood favorite comics titles, started tinkering with the iconic heroes they had created for me and other generations of kids along the way. There was Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and so many others. They were a part of our childhoods, a part of our understanding good guys and bad guys and the world at large. There was history and there was futuristic fantasy. There were morality plays throughout. There was always a moral to the story and the heroes always overcame some personal failure along the way. They helped shape us and in many cases helped define things like patriotism for young minds.
Suddenly Thor was a woman. The Green Lantern was black…and gay. News reports came out from various publishing houses that icons we had grown up with were now being outed as gay or bisexual, facing another identity crisis, or maybe even had become another gender or race just to appease the gods of political correctness. Then there were characters that had always been that disappeared and in their places were those we had not heard of, but were roughly the same with ethnic or gender differences that our heroes could not have embodied!
Suddenly heroes we had known all our lives were gone, or so different they were not the same heroes. “Reality” as we had known it was jerked out from under us and the world was no longer the same.
Finally, due to the main driving force in any business- sales, Marvel’s VP of Sales noted that the increase in diversity and in female characters had cost them business. People were buying the iconic character stories, not the new ones. The female Thor, a black female Iron Man called Iron Heart a bi-racial Spider-Man and the new female Ms. Marvel were not cutting it. He said sales showed any character that was diverse, new or female, anything not a core Marvel character was not selling.
He didn’t seem to understand it, and we had explained it to them at the beginning, if they had only been listening. We don’t mind diversity in NEW heroes. But don’t change an iconic figure to appease the purveyors of political correctness. Bring in new female characters, bring in various ethnic representations and even sexually diverse ones (since when was that important to comic book readers?), but leave the heroes we have known all of our lives alone. Oh, and one other thing…
How many times, even without substantial changes to the character himself, can you reset the story and begin it all over? We are tired of it just starting over and over because a new Hollywood star wants to be our hero in the next movie or series of them. Flashback for details, sure, OK, we like that. Change the substance of the history of the character? No!
Marvel had best be finding the next Stan Lee. That kind of creativity doesn’t come along every day and someone has to start the next generation of heroes to be discovered on the fragile pages between ads for amazing sea horses, x-ray glasses and muscle building programs! And if you can’t think of new stories to keep our legacy heroes in place, then retire them gracefully or start repackaging the original stories in the new world…seems they always knew where to take us.