Marvel's Thor has sex change

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He is famed as the God of Thunder, but Thor is to change sex, launching an "all-new era" for the comic-book icon, its publishers said on Tuesday.

Marvel Comics will introduce the female Thor in its latest comic series in October, it announced, stressing that the new Thor is not She-Thor or Thorita.

It was not immediately clear if the sex change will be taken to the movies, where the franchise has been a huge box-office hit in recent years.

Marvel said the female Thor is an effort to attract new readers and to appeal to women and girls, whom it said have long been ignored in comics.

It will be the biggest change to its three largest comic characters - Captain America, Iron Man and Thor - according to Marvel.

"The inscription on Thor's hammer reads 'Whosoever holds this hammer, if HE be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor'," said Marvel editor Wil Moss. "It's time to update that inscription."

He added: "The new Thor continues Marvel's proud tradition of strong female characters like Captain Marvel, Storm, Black Widow and more. And this new Thor isn't a temporary female substitute - she's now the one and only Thor, and she is worthy."

Series writer Jason Aaron added: "This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is Thor. This is the Thor of the Marvel Universe. But it's unlike any Thor we've ever seen before."

Whoopi Goldberg, co-host of the show The View on Disney's ABC network, told TV audiences today the fictional Norse superhero will be a woman. Images on the Marvel website show a female with iron armour and a cape.

Marvel and comic-book producer DC Entertainment of Time Warner are increasingly targeting female characters to broaden the appeal of the male-centric superhero genre to include more women and girls. Thor will be the eighth Marvel comic-book title to feature a female lead.

The change of gender is not unprecedented for Marvel, which was bought by entertainment giant The Walt Disney Company in 2009. Captain Marvel used to be male, but is now female, a spokesman said.

On the big screen, Thor has been portrayed by Australian actor Chris Hemsworth in two Thor films (2011, 2013) as well as 2012's record-breaking The Avengers. He will reprise the role in Avengers: Age Of Ultron, due out next year. It is unclear whether the actor will have to hang up his hammer, to be replaced by a woman.

"This is a publishing-only initiative," Marvel Entertainment spokesman Joe Taraborrelli told Agence France-Presse. Disney spokesman Megan Wasserman added: "The announcement... was about the comics, and as normal Marvel policy, we cannot (comment) on film activities, rumours or related speculation."

On Twitter, some welcomed the news but others - including women - expressed their horror. "What genius writer decided on this? Will u also change Norse lore," wrote a male fan.

"I'm all for feminism but a FEMALE #Thor ... HECK NO, it doesn't even make sense" was a fangirl's opinion.

Even The Avengers director Joss Whedon chimed in, writing: "A female Thor? What the hell makes them think that would be cool?"

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