Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thanks to Marvel, no one will mistakenly worship Thor

Religion in comics - superhero comics specifically - is a tricky subject.  It's hard for me to believe that a lot of "ordinary" characters in comics (assuming for a second that these people exist off the page) would follow traditional religions because of what inevitably happens in a comic book character's every day life.

Think about it - who would be satisfied with blind faith when every day you see people do impossible, miraculous feats?  When larger-than-life figures are killed but return from death ("better than ever!")?  When characters like Thor and Ares and Odin and Zeus - who would look you in the eye and say "yeah, I'm a god" - hang out with regular people to the point that you might one day have a conversation with one of them?

Of course, most companies tread lightly when it comes to this subject because they don't want to be accused of blasphemy when viewed under the lens of real-world religion.  Sure, every once in a while Superman will say to some fanatical group of followers "I...I'm not a god!  I'm just like you!", but I have to admit it would be at least somewhat interesting to read an issue of Thor where he says "you people should really start worshiping me if you want this drought to end...".

The first official trailer for the Thor movie was released a few days ago, and Marvel seems to want to quash any notion that Thor wants to emphasize the "god" part in his role as God of Thunder.  In this Yahoo! Movies article, Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige seemed pretty emphatic that Thor and the other mythological Norse gods in this movie weren't necessarily gods "in the traditional sense":
Feige says that the backstory is Thor is from a race of otherworldly beings who live in a realm called Asgard. But they are able to travel to different worlds, and they arrived on our planet in Scandinavia a thousand years ago. Feige says that since they were so superior to the humans they encountered, "the locals interpreted them as gods and started mimicking some of their clothing and some of their helmet and weapon designs." Since what appears to be mystical is actually technological, Thor's powers aren't that different from Iron Man's or Captain America's.
This all seems pretty funny to me, because it sounds as if Marvel might be expecting some actual backlash from other religious organizations (or maybe the public in general) for portraying Thor and crew as actual gods worthy of worship and homage - as if people didn't stop worshiping the Norse gods...what, a thousand years ago?  Literally?

Maybe I'm being naive here and there actually will be protests and claims of blasphemy.  But it seems that, even if the movie took the position that the title character was actually the Norse god of myth, it'd still be clear that the movie is itself a work of fiction.  Just in case, though, Marvel - you better clear the air.  Good job.

Gotta admit, though...the half second or so of the Destroyer does look pretty awesome.

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