Wednesday, December 22, 2010

They Do Understand it's Just a Comic Book, Right?

Although I read Marvel Comics’ Thor comic book back in the day—the heyday, I should say, the late 1960s and early 1970s when it was being rendered with a good deal of over-the-top pseudo-mythological seriousness by the great team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and the often-maligned Vince Coletta—I wasn’t that big a fan. (Big enough to note that the actual title of the book was The Mighty Thor, since in those days nearly all Marvel heroes had an official adjective: The Amazing Spider-Man; The Incredible Hulk; The Invincible Iron Man. And a big enough fan to note that, early on, the book was titled Journey into Mystery, and so by the time I came along the cover line was, confusingly, Journey into Mystery with The Mighty Thor. So maybe I was a biggish fan.)

Anyhow, I have noted with some interest the development of a Major Motion Picture based on Marvel’s Thor...including this interesting tidbit from from Right Wing Watch:

Well, of course. Who wouldn’t?

Naturally, having never heard of the Council of Conservative Citizens before, I hied on over to the right-wingnut organization’s website to see what it was that had them so worked up. And, well, who could blame them? It seems that Marvel Comics—my beloved Marvel Comics of old—has declared war on the gods of Asgard! By Odin’s beard!

From the Council’s website:

    Norse mythology gets a multi-cultural remake in the upcoming movie titled “Thor,” by Marvel studios. It’s not enough that Marvel attacks conservative values and promotes the left-wing, now mythological Gods must be re-invented with black skin.
    It seems that Marvel Studios believes that white people should have nothing that is unique to themselves. An upcoming movie, based on the comic book Thor, will give Norse mythology an insulting multi-cultural make-over. One of the Gods will be played by Hip Hop DJ Idris Elba.

Setting aside for the moment the interesting fact that the Council chooses to capitalize “God” in reference to mythological gods—a practice that I would expect Conservative Citizens to decry, leading me to conclude they must of course be anti-Christian Conservative Citizens, since they obviously uphold other gods besides the God of Abraham—I’m left with one single burning question:

Don’t they know that Thor is a movie based on a comic book?

Which is to say, it is not a movie about Norse mythology. The producers have not gone to ancient source materials for a rollicking retelling of the legends of Odin, Thor, Baldr, Heimdall, and the rest of that jolly crew. It’s a movie based on a comic book that pulls some characters, places, and themes from the mythos and recasts them in a superhero mold. (Indeed, in the early days Thor had a secret identity and everything—including an interesting slant on the old Clark Kent-Lois Lane-Superman triangle, in which Thor’s love interest thought that his human alter-ego, Donald Blake, was a dreamboat and didn’t really seem to give two hoots about Thor.)

Given that, the moronic objection to Heimdall being portrayed by a black actor obviously isn’t so much about protecting Norse mythology as it is complaining about the casting of an actor who is...well, not white.

Racist claptrap, in other words. These clowns are “insulted” because a movie studio cast a black man to play-act in a flick based on a comic book.

As my wife commented when I shared this, The Most Idiotic Thing I’ve Read all Week, with her: “Some people need to get jobs.”

Naturally, the wingnuts have begun a campaign to boycott the movie. I wasn’t too sure I’d bother to see Thor in a theatre—you know how it is: sometimes you just wait for the DVD to appear—but now I’m pretty sure I’ll spring for a ticket, just on principle.

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