In the wake of Marvel Comics' recent announcements that an African American character will take over the mantle of iconic Captain America (after the regular guy loses his super powers in battle with an arch foe), and that a woman will be Thor in future comics, I think it's time for DC Comics to get into the act before they get left behind.
The most logical and sensational choice would be for them to find a man to take over the role of Wonder Woman. Not only would this surprise readers, but define a modern paradigm for superheroes never seen before. To preserve the integrity of the character, not to mention the marketing potential of a brand name like Wonder Woman, they should make sure to preserve Wonder Woman's current costume, replete with the star-spangled Speedos, red bustier and golden bracelets. After all, just because a man will fill those high heels doesn't mean that the public won't want to see the same Wonder Woman they have grown to love and worship.
Of course, there will be some challenges, such as filling the bustier, but in an age of padded bras and other clever devices for creating illusions, that should hardly be a challenge that the DC Comics team can't tackle. The same goes for the lower part of the costume where a beer gut and a pair of hairy legs will certainly add a twist to a familiar tale and delight readers with pleasures that they never saw coming.
So is this idea as ridiculous as it sounds? Yes, but so is the stunt casting by Marvel Comics of its major characters. To be clear, it is great that the powers that be at Marvel Comics are finally paying attention to underrepresented minorities in their stories but by simply plugging them into the costumes and legends of established characters, they are not so much elevating minorities as using them to sell more comics in a progressive age.
If they really wanted to introduce minority characters into their comics, the right and responsible way to do it would be to introduce new characters that are just as powerful and charismatic as Captain America or Thor, and to develop them from the ground up as African American or female. By meddling with characters whose physical imagery has already been ingrained into pop culture psyche for more than half a century, all Marvel Comics is really doing is extending brands that are past their prime and/or trying to be politically correct in the silliest way possible.
Now Marvel Comics supporters might argue that casting minorities in the tights of major superheroes will force us to think differently about those icons, but what's the point of that? Isn't the point to define firm and powerful identities for an African American man in his own right or a woman in her own right rather than hoping that they will somehow be taken more seriously in the reflected glory of famous characters?
Does an example of the latter come to mind? Yes. Wonder Woman -- a fantastic character that stands in her own right as a member of the DC pantheon of Gods and on par with Superman and Batman. That to me is giving respect to minorities, not what Marvel Comics is doing.
Otherwise, we could well wind up with a hirsute guy in blue underwear, giving us a gratuitous view of his superhero assets while flying above our heads in an invisible plane...
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