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Thor becomes a lady, and other changes at Marvel

Don't call her "She-Thor."

Marvel announced earlier this week some changes to two of their most prominent characters. A woman will pick up Thor’s hammer and Sam Wilson  a black hero currently known as Falcon  will pick up Captain America's shield.

The current Thor will soon become unworthy of Mjolnir. Only a select few can wield the legendary hammer, and whoever picks it up becomes the new Thor. That change and the new Cap both came naturally from their series' respective writers, says Wil Moss, an editor at Marvel. Moss works with Thor writer Jason Aaron.

"It just kind of sprung from where he was taking the character," Moss said. "Thor has a tradition of other people holding the hammer and being Thor for a while."

Marvel has taken other steps to make its pages more diverse in recent years. When Spider-Man died in the company's separate"Ultimate" line, he was replaced with a black Hispanic teenager. The publisher also introduced an all-female "X-Men" comic last year and relaunched the series "Ms. Marvel" in February with a Muslim, Pakistani-American heroine. These shifts have drawn acclaim, but changes to Thor and Captain America might be the most sweeping and visible yet.

Moss says besides the creative reasons for shaking up these characters, these changes make sense as a way to build a new audience for Marvel.  

"It’s just a way to broaden our audience, to make characters that more people would be interested, to reach different groups of people."

This new Thor might look different, but Moss says she'll quickly jump into the same adventures as her predecessor.

"Right off the bat she's going to be fighting Frost Giants," Moss says. "She's getting right into the thick of things."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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