Almost on cue, the Internet reacted in a predictable manner.
Traditionalists don’t ever want to see anyone other than Tony Stark don the red and gold.
Liberals applauded the move as progressive and game-changing. Conservatives bemoaned the announcement as more PC nonsense.
But if history has taught us anything in comic book land, it’s this: change, while constant, doesn’t last.
Don’t believe me? Guess who was Iron Man for a good part of the 1980s? After Stark lost control of his company and retired from superheroing, his best friend Rhodey (gasp, a black man!) wore the armor.
Heck, Stark even had a suit made for his assistant, Pepper Potts. So news that a 15-year old MIT whiz constructed armor in her dorm room shouldn’t turn the Marvel universe on its head.
Yes, Rhodey as Iron Man made some headlines at the time. But guess who came back?
— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) July 8, 2016
These changes are prevalent throughout the comics universe. Thor is currently a woman. Not long ago, Doctor Octopus transferred his mind into Peter Parker’s body and became Spider-Man for more than a year.
When Batman’s back was broken in the 1990s, Azrael took over. When he later“died,” Dick Grayson wore the cowl. There have been something like 10 Captain Americas … to date.
Heck, Thor was even briefly a frog.
And every time – every single time – the originals came back. In comic books, change is as permanent as death.
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It’s natural for the storytellers to want to shake things up. Some of these characters have been around for 75-plus years. The writers are constantly changing, and they want to bring their particular spin to the story.
That’s not an easy thing when you’re dealing with characters with decades of history and hundreds of books’ worth of backstory. Sooner or later, though, someone hits the reset button and we’re back to where we began.
That’s happened with DC’s recent Rebirth quasi-reboot. The publisher essentially admitted defeat, saying its New 52 reboot from 2011 was a mistake. The company took characters in the wrong direction, while ignoring other fan faves altogether. With Rebirth, we’re pretty much back to where we started.
Sure, change can be upsetting to fans (though some embrace it). These shifts give cable loudmouths something to moan about. But eventually the character – and the readers – will be better for it.
By the way, in the time it took me to put this piece together, Marvel announced that in addition to the new female Iron Man, Doctor Doom is also going to wear Stark’s armor this fall.
A villain in Iron Man’s suit? Outrageous!
Is that worth getting upset? Just wait.