The face of the Marvel Universe will change, all starting with the triumvirate of Avengers who represent the Mt. Rushmore of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
This fall, Steve Rogers and Thor Odinson will make way for Sam Wilson and an enigmatic female champion to assume their respective mantles, while Tony Stark’s grand vision for a superior tomorrow constitutes just as sweeping a firmware update for the man in the iron mask. Marvel Comics’ Executive Editor Tom Brevoort and Editor in Chief Axel Alonso speak to the new status quo, and the story behind the changes.
First, nobody’s dying.
“Neither Steve Rogers nor the artist formerly known as Thor are going to be vanishing from the pages of our titles any time soon,” reports Brevoort. “Their stories are not over and they’ll have a role to play in what comes next. It’s just a different role than anything we’ve seen them doing before—which is interesting and exciting!”
So, where did these changes originate, and why are they all happening at once? The editors insist that it’s more a case of serendipity than agenda, though it shouldn’t come as a surprise that such radical changes rose up independently. The Marvel NOW! epoch has been epitomized by experimentation and bold gambits, all in service of great storytelling.
“First and foremost,” says Alonso, “This is about telling good stories. These transformations did not come about due to an editorial edict; they came about because the writer of each series thought it would make for cool stories. Rick Remender has some very cool stories to tell with a red-white-and-blue-clad Sam Wilson. Jason Aaron had some very cool stories to tell with a female Thor wielding the hammer. Ditto for Tom Taylor, with his ‘superior’ Iron Man.
“These plans have been underway for many months, and each of them came about independently. ALL-NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA came out of events in the core series, THOR was birthed by events in Original Sin, and the SUPERIOR IRON-MAN came about because of the upcoming AXIS. They were all pitched by the writers, and the strength of each pitch got us past any trepidation we might have had about doing any of them.”
Given that this changing of the guard arrives at the crest of Rick Remender’s AXIS event, big changes will not be limited to the heroic roster. Marvel’s most sinister villains watch on with interest.
“I think this all depends on the villain,” says Brevoort of the bad guys’ plans. “Some may see this as the perfect moment to strike, while there seems to be some weakness or lack of experience on the part of the heroes who’ve taken on those roles—it will be up to the new Cap and the new Thor to convince those villains of the errors of their ways. And the Marvel underworld is constantly changing and evolving, far faster than the world of the heroes, actually, so I wouldn’t expect that to slow down any time in the near future.”
With the announcements of a new Captain America and new female Thor creating conversation in the mainstream press, the Marvel offices continue to receive copious feedback. While change can be intimidating, the editors take heart in a groundswell of excitement and debate.
“Whenever we announce a change this big—let alone three changes this big—we anticipate that the first round of feedback will be negative,” says Alonso. “But in this case, it’s been more positive than negative, which perhaps says something about the audience’s willingness to be challenged. I sure don’t hope anyone takes solace in the assumption that any of these changes are temporary, because the storytelling opportunities they present are limitless.”
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