The new Thor is a woman. The new Captain America is black. The new Spider-Man is Hispanic. The new Hulk is Korean. Iceman (in an alternate reality) is gay.
Marvel Comics recent push to diversify its stable of superhero icons has been met with criticism and praise – largely from anonymous online commenters twiddling away at their keyboards.
But true fans of comic book lore, those fans who cut out of work early to be the first in line for Baltimore Comic-Con Friday afternoon, were thoughtful in the critiques of Marvel’s intentions to be more inclusive.
Kate Hoke, 45, traveled from Virginia for the convention dressed as The Winter Soldier, a male character introduced in the Marvel cinematic universe featured in the Captain America sequel of the same name.
On Saturday, she plans to attend the convention as the new Thor – Dr. Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman in the films.
“It depends on the book, the writer and the story,” Hoke began, commenting on Marvel’s new characters. “As a woman, I love that there are now stronger, female characters. But like, when Bobby [Drake] became gay in X-Men – I thought that was forced.
“But it’s good when it makes sense for the character’s storyline.”
Sam Wilson, the Falcon, will assume the role of Captain America after (****SPOILER****) Steve Rogers is killed in action, she offered as an example.
She then dropped a plastic sub-machine gun accessory.
“Honey can you pick up my gun?” she said to her husband Tim Hoke. (Only in Baltimore, am I right?)
Lacy Hudson, a 23-year-old from Salisbury, also attended the convention as The Winter Soldier.
“They’re making great strides,” Hudson began, “But with the funding they have and with the backlog of characters they could be doing better.”
She added that she routinely attends conventions dressed as male characters because “they’re more fun for me.
“They’re stronger, more dynamic, and their costumes are less revealing. Oh, and they come with pockets. Pockets are important.”
Fred Holt’s shaved head and imposing frame made for a convincing Nick Fury – depending on how far back your comic book knowledge stretches.
The Baltimore man, flanked by a cadre of “S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents,” represented one of the earliest iterations of a Marvel character changing origins. There was a time when Nick Fury was played by David Hasselhoff on screen, believe it or not. Holt much more closely resembled Samuel L. Jackson’s interpretation of the character.
“I’d like to see Marvel do original characters that are ethnically diverse,” Holt said.
Matthew Orr, in between posing for group photos added, “I’m not really surprised by it.
“They’re always changing and they’re going to keep changing with the times. The characters 20 years from now what look or be the same as they are today.”
Alyce Evans, Beth Atkins and Barbara Randall were another convincing costume troupe that walked aisles in the convention showroom Friday afternoon. Together, they made up the D.C. Comics Bombshells.
“It’s great to see represented more as heroes and less like damsels,” Atkins said. “Their female characters are getting more detailed. There was a time when you could interchange hair color and all the women would look the same – big boobs and butt that stuck out.”
She added that the introduction of Carol Danvers as the new Captain Marvel has been a welcome addition to the Marvel universe.
“She’s a model,” Atkins said. “I’ve seen so many parents giving that comic to their daughters, introducing them to her as a hero.”