One of the first rules of writing fiction is to make your main character someone with whom your readers can relate; therefore, make them not too perfect and probably not an alien or even a foreigner. But is that really what readers want? I suppose that most readers who have grown up in the United States do fall into the above stereotype, otherwise why insist that so many UK actors speak with American accents, and then criticize the hell out of them for not doing it perfectly. While I prefer that actors speak in their native accents; I also like learning about other cultures, and so I have no problem reading stories where I cannot relate to the main characters, that is kind of the point.
So, about Jane; Jane is a normal human with no super powers, and although most of us do not have doctorates in science; she is the one person in the Thor movies to whom we are suppose to be able to relate. So then, why do so many Thor fans hate Jane? I just got off a forum where everyone was wishing Thor would just forget about Jane and fall in love with Lady Sif “who clearly is more suited to him”. Well, the obvious answer is that one does not choose who to love, but that is not the point. The point is that the one relatable character in the movie is also the same character that so many fans don’t like and wish to see less of in Thor 3. If Jane is supposed to represent the character that we all relate to, does it even matter who plays her, what she looks like, or what her profession is? Is it not true that she is just a filler character, holding the place for each and everyone of us who wishes we were the character of Jane? In that case, the less personality the actress portrays the better, so as to not clash so much with any of our own personality traits. But she needs to be there so that we can all pretend Thor is in love with us, doesn’t she? It is highly unlikely that many of us are going to be able to pretend that we are Lady Sif. I guess that I could say “there are two kinds of people, those who like superheroes and those who don’t”. But is that all it is? Or is there more behind the like for Lady Sif and the dislike of Jane? Let’s take a look at another similar pair of women, namely Lagertha and Aslaug in the Vikings. Last episode when Aslaug comes upon Porunn practicing swordplay; she asks her, “Why does everyone want to be like Lagertha?” I am going to give a little history on Aslaug, given that she is my namesake and all. The TV show gets her lineage right in that she is a princess; however, they get so much of it wrong or out of order. She was not raised by her parents or even any of her relatives; instead to protect her identity, she was raised by peasants as a peasant, and therefore would not have known the life of luxury and priviledge, as is referred to on Vikings. Contrary to Siggy, who was the wife of an Earl for so long, it is more likely that Aslaug would have had to teach Siggy how to live rough. Second, she was said to have a higher than average wit. She was also a seer, in that she had dreams and premonitions that came true. Third, she refused to have sex with Ragnar Lothbrok before marriage, and refused to marry him until after he had accomplished his purpose in Norway. The very name Aslaug means “god’s fiance”, before this she was known as Kraka, meaning crow. Then when she does marry him, she cautions him not to have sex with her so soon after marriage, because she has fears about the child they will make. True to her sight, since Ragnar refuses to wait any longer, she bears him Ivar the Boneless, who is their 1st child, not their 4th child like in the TV series. She is the mother of Bjorn Ironside, not Lagertha. Finally, some sources state that she was in fact Ragnar’s first wife. Now, about everyone wanting to be a shieldmaiden like Lagertha. I think that might be true for TV’s modern viewers, but I highly doubt that was the case for the time in which they lived. Seers were held in higher regard, not to mention princesses; even so, Aslaug had no reason to be jealous of Lagertha. Brynhildr, Aslaug’s own mother, not the peasant woman who raised her, was a shieldmaiden. Aslaug could have been a shieldmaiden if she wished to become one; she obviously didn’t view it as something she wanted at that time. Later when her sons were grown, she did go to battle with her sons Björn and Halfdan Hvitserk.
The point is that most of today’s viewers and readers seem to want their leading female characters to be “go-to-battle”ready. I can’t think why they don’t like Jane, after all she uses brain and not brawn; but they seem to prefer characters like Lady Sif and Lagertha. Personally, I like the quiet ones; the ones who value family and motherhood over going to battle. Since we haven’t yet seen Jane in that role; I will reserve judgment until I see how she handles motherhood and being a wife. Given her propensity to slap around the gods and go rushing off to investigate; I highly doubt she will be content to stay home with her barns. I just hope that Thor doesn’t become one of those hen-pecked husbands, to put it nicely. Speaking of superheroes, my favorite has always been Superman. Before you think that it was because I fell in love with Christopher Reeves, I say that my favorite actor to play Superman was George Reeves, maybe not as popular, but much more likable and believable as Superman. The most handsome Clark Kent has to be Tom Welling, too bad we never got to see him as a full-fledged Superman, though. I liked the old Superman character and what he stood for, sure it was nice that he had superpowers, but his main attraction for me was how good and perfect he was. So, I guess that ties in with my idea about those of us who like superheroes, as opposed to more realistic heroes. Now, however, I am seriously split as to which superhero is my favorite – Superman, Thor or Captain America. Captain America has all of those same good qualities that Superman has, only without the superpowers; well, except for strength. If we go on looks alone, then Thor wins every day of the week. I use to think that I didn’t like the character of Thor as much as Superman, because when you think of the god that all of my norski ancestors worshipped and were afraid of, there is a lot to be desired. Ancient Thor was certainly not the Chris Hemsworth version, as you can see on Vikings with their gods demanding human sacrifices. However, now that the Chris Hemsworth version does exist, Thor is a serious contender for becoming my favorite superhero. Notice I don’t say the Marvel version of Thor, because I can’t imagine anyone else filling Thor’s shoes quite so completely as Chris Hemsworth, not even a cartoon version.
I do have one objection regarding the Thor movies and that is that they portray only the modern version of Thor and all of Asgaard. They admit that their lifespans are about 5000 years, so why not show a ten minute scene (or even a whole movie) having to do with how they dealt with our ancestors. It is quite impossible that Thor (how old is he suppose to be?) did not have other girlfriends, whether human or Asgaardian, before Jane. When I mentioned this to my son; he said that maybe Vikings could have an episode where Thor (Chris Hemsworth) comes down to earth to help them defeat their enemies. I realized they can’t though, because those gods were ruthless, unkind and basically not the same character in any way, as Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. In the latest episode of Vikings, Ragnar says to Athelstan, the monk, “I hope someday our gods might become friends.” It is a nice sentiment, and one that a person does wish could be true sometimes. Especially, if you think of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, it does not seem so far-fetched that he could be friends with Jesus Christ.
So, now we come to the religious part. Athelstan has gone through several crisis of faith during the last two seasons of Vikings. He wants to be true to his religion, but then when Ragnar becomes a friend, someone that he admires, and when Ragnar makes him a member of his family; well, he is religiously confused and doesn’t know what to believe anymore. Like he tells God in the latest episode, that he has seen that Ragnar’s gods are real, in a way that maybe he has never seen in Catholicism. His main problem is that he was never able to see Jesus for who He really is. This is partly due to the beliefs of the times; one of which is that whoever wins a battle it was their god who made it happen. It appears to Athelstan that the Vikings are better warriors, does that make their religion the more true? Athelstan also speaks of seeing their gods in the storms and at sea.
It is more difficult to try and adhere to a religion when you can’t see or hear the god of that religion. It can be said, that even a harsh god who demands human sacrifice is preferable to one that you can’t see or hear and you only know by reading dogmas and liturgies. The reason it could be preferable is the same reason it is said that even a bad parent is better than having no parent at all. Of course, many will disagree, and I myself will say that it is not always better to have a parent. If having said parent, means that the child grows up to murder the parent in order to stop their abuse, then NO it is not better or preferable.
Our God is not harsh. How can He be when He gave his life to reconcile us to Him? Anyone looking for a real-life superhero need look no further. He did not hang on that cross for lack of power, He did it because He loves us, and wishes all mankind to be saved from what is coming. Maybe He is not sufficiently imperfect for some, and yet if He were imperfect, He could not save us. About a hundred years ago, a missionary came to an African tribe and when he arrived to preach the gospel, a tribal man walked up to him and thanked him for coming. “I didn’t know if God was real, but I have been praying and telling Him that I need a God with skin on Him in order to believe. God sent you to show me that such a God does exist in the person of Jesus Christ.” Sometimes we all need a God with skin on, and I think that is the crux of Athelstan’s confusion. Unfortunately, he never met Jesus, not the real Jesus.
We have all played the game Telephone in a circle group, right? You know how just a few people speaking from one to the next can corrupt what the original speaker said. There does not seem to be any written record of Thor that precedes the birth of Christ and I have to wonder if the Norse gods are not corrupted versions of the true. It is not far-fetched to think that they might have taken fragments here and there and filled in the blanks to make up something they could believe in. We, humans do this all the time. Who do we know that can calm the winds and the sea by simply speaking to them? The god of thunder or Jesus Christ? Now, I know that in reality it is most likely that any and all aliens that we might encounter are none other than fallen angels. I said in reality. However, in fiction I have no problem believing that God created the planet Krypton, as well as Asgaard and any number of other planets with beings on them. That does not diminish God in any way. In reality, it might even be so; we just have no proof of it. No, I don’t believe in Universalism or in Ultimate Reconciliation.
So, about Jane; What kind of character do readers want to read about? Is it someone to whom they can relate, emphasize with, or is it someone they wish they could be, however unattainable that may prove in reality? I sit here trying to think of just one female fictional character that I could wish to emulate. It certainly isn’t The Good Wife, but I do wish that I would come across a recent fictional character that is a faithful wife and good mother, not to mention a good person. Thor’s mother is definitely a possibility, at least I would like to try her hairstyle.