The Female Demographic – Female Thor
I heard recently through Mr Repzion’s You Tube channel that Thor is going to be turned into a woman to try and attract a larger female audience. I don’t actually read comic books – only tried Kick Ass – and so I’m not bothered by this news from the perspective of a fan. In fact I prefer Manga because it feels like there’s a wider variety to appeal to different audiences. There are many different types of Manga: Kodomo, Shonen and Shojo to name a few. From what I’ve heard comics are suffering through a similar problem to video games in that they are considered to be a male domain. Perhaps they could learn a lot by seeing how Manga is made more appealing to women.
I feel that by changing a well loved lead character it could potentially create more tension between male and female fans. If too much has to be changed to attract the new audience people could resent the newcomers. I’m sure there are also many women who already enjoy comics for what they are at the moment.
I’ve also enjoyed many stories where the main character was male and I never really considered that it’d be better if they were female. Admittedly if I have a choice in a video game I will often play a female character because I can relate to them more, but It’s not a necessity to attract me to a franchise. If a character has to be changed or a new alternate character is created it will still feel like they are living in the shadow of the male counterpart because they seem like an afterthought. I want to see original female characters that can stand out on their own merits instead of being added in lazily at a later date. I personally would prefer a franchise to have been created with people like me in mind from the very beginning. There also needs to be more strong female characters that women can relate/aspire to.
I can’t speak on behalf of all women – we all like different things after all – but I think it’s the portrayal of relationships that can make a franchise seem more interesting. I still like to see action, violence or fantastical elements, but I also want to have deep complex characters that forge different friendships on their journey. I think Mass effect is a good example of a game that does this well; you still get to enjoy the epic sci-fi battles while at the same time forming attachments to your party members. I think Mass Effect is a game that can appeal to many different types of people.
Trying to attract a female audience isn’t as simple as adding female characters or colouring everything pink like we’re moths to a flame. Perhaps we need more female developers to help create a better understanding in this area. In the case of Thor, I think they should have made a new character based on one of the many goddess’ in Norse mythology. I think it also needs to be considered whether the potential audience gain will make it worth upsetting your current fan base.