First, Nick Fury was suddenly a black guy. That was cool. I mean, let’s face it, no one was that attached to Nick Fury anyway and Samuel L. Jackson managed to completely reinvent the character. Jackson made Fury credible enough to hang out with the likes of Captain American and the Hulk without being overshadowed. But this trend to “reinvent” the wheel is getting a little out of hand.
I tried to read a Spider-Man comic the other day. Spidey was the first super hero I really identified with. I was five or six years old when I fell in love with the Amazing Spider-Man and his alter ego, Peter Parker. Pete was a guy I could identify with. He had school problems, work problems, girl problems, and family problems. Because he was a normal guy, his life sometimes sucked. And when he put on a mask things didn’t always get better. Sometimes he failed. But along the way he taught me a lot of stuff. For instance, he taught me that with great power comes great responsibility. And he taught me that sometimes the Hobgoblins of life are gonna knock you on your backside, but giving up isn’t an option. It’s how we respond to the obstacles in life that make us a hero. Peter Parker and Spider-Man are important to me. I grew up with him. But when I tried to read his book the other day, the Spider-man I love is gone. In one universe, he’s Doctor Octopus in Peter Parker’s body. If you think that’s weird, in the other universe he’s a black-hispanic kid named Miles Morales. Uh, what?
Look. I think it would be awesome to create a black hero of Puerto Rican descent. I mean really. We need more minority super heroes. I think it’s a wonderful idea. I could even support turning Doctor Octopus into a hero so readers can learn wonderful lessons about redemption and repentance and all that – the story lines could be deep, substantive and powerful.
But why can’t they do that while leaving Peter Parker alone? He’s my hero. Did they have to sacrifice him on the altar of change?
And it doesn’t stop with Peter Parker. At some point, Thor became a girl, Superman died, and Jim Gordon became the Batman.
Even minor characters are getting makeovers. I recently watched the debut episode of Supergirl and really enjoyed it, but I was somewhat confused as to why the Jimmy Olsen I know as a skinny, red-headed, pip-squeak is suddenly a large, muscular, hunky black guy. I mean really – how did that happen? Was there surgery involved?
There are even some people advocating that 007 himself should be gay and the Bond movies should do away with Bond girls. I’m sorry, but that would no longer be James Bond. He is a super spy with a fatal attraction to the opposite sex – that’s who he is! Furthermore, Spider-Man is Peter Parker, Thor’s a big, muscular dude, Superman is alive, the Batman is Bruce Wayne, and Jimmy Olsen is a pip-squeak!
Why don’t we go ahead and reinvent the Hulk as a pacifist?
I get that in some cases these changes reflect important progress and changes in our culture. I agree that we need more minority heroes for the youth of today to look up to. Super heroes should come in all shapes, sizes, genders, and ethnicities! All that is fine and dandy and necessary. But for some of us, these are established characters we have literally grown up with. These characters are important to us because someone, somewhere sat down at a typewriter or drawing board, engaged their creative gifts, and invented them.
Instead of reinventing established characters who are important, why not invent new characters. Do for this generation what Stan Lee, Ian Fleming, and others did for mine and quit screwing around with the characters of my youth.