Toni Darling, the Original Female Thor
It’s official: Thor is now a woman.
And although this may seem like a strange and unusual concept to most people, for cosplay fans it’s been a long time coming. In the summer of 2012, a novice cosplayer named Toni Darling burst onto the scene when her photos went viral: donning sexy and unique gender-bending take on Thor’s costume, she caught the geekier among us completely off guard.
While admittedly not the first woman to ever pose as the God of Thunder, her combination of a killer physique and gorgeous craftsmanship made her a sensation. Whether you know her as “the Thor girl,” Toni Darling, or from one of her other cosplay efforts, you’ve undoubtedly seen her somewhere online–and I had the privilege of chatting with her about everything Thor-related, as well as her upcoming schedule.
Blake Northcott: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me! The big news this week is that Thor will be a girl–which broke on The View for some reason. What are your thoughts about that?
Toni Darling: I am so thrilled! I think it’s awesome.
I do understand some hardcore fans have hesitation, but something that has stuck in my mind, and a lot of my fans have pointed out, “Dude, Thor has been a frog at one point. He’s also been a woman before.” Any true fan of the Thor comics knows, he’s been a lot of things.
And as far as the mythology goes, he’s been a horse. He hasn’t just always been a big, tall Viking man.
On a personal note it’s so satisfying, because an article I was reading clarified it not “Thorina” or “Thor Girl” or “Thorette”–it’s THOR–Thor as a woman. That is something I gave up about a year ago correcting people on, because that’s what my costume is. I’m not “Lady Thor”–if you Google “Lady Thor” she looks totally different from my costume. What I did was this: there is no female Thor in the Marvel Universe, so I’m going to make one.
I was like, “That’s what I was trying to do two years ago, and now you’ve made it official! That is so awesome!” I am so thrilled, and I just hope that it’s well done.
BN: Did Marvel contact you to model for the new female Thor? Even the poses of the new character they designed looks like the pose you did in one of your photos.
TD: No, I’ve never been contacted. Yeah, it’s always really hard to say. Because if you put the two poses side-by-side it’s —
BN: It’s uncanny –? [laughs]
TD: Yeah. I can’t say anything, because I was the one doing a female version of the comic book character Thor–and also the other intention was that I am Swedish, and I grew up with the mythology, so for me, it was an homage not only to the comic that I love, but to the mythology that I love.
Thor is not a character that anyone can trademark, because he’s a mythological god. I can’t put any ownership on, but if I did inspire this in any way, I am flattered and I would love to know. I don’t want anything other than that knowledge. I don’t want anything from it, other than just an official statement if they used my photos as art, or based the character on that. It would be cool–that’s just a dream of mine one day. I would love it to happen…any maybe it has nothing to do with me! [laughs]
Either way I’m just happy there will be another strong female character in the Marvel universe that is not what I like to call the Adam and Eve situation as a “rib.” Like Supergirl only exists as a rib of Superman–she doesn’t really exist on her own merits. Ms. Marvel, same thing. There are a lot of different characters in the superhero universe–even Catwoman–she’s become her own thing, but she really existed only as a villain for Batman. Wonder Woman is one of the few women who always existed as their own character.
I see this as kind of a cross-between. This isn’t “Thor Girl” coming from Thor, but it’s not an entirely new female character, either. This kind of “Thor transforms into a woman” is kind of a cool compromise. And I don’t think it’s ever been done before. I’m not an expert on all comics ever, but I don’t know of another time it’s ever been done.
It’s unique! And how often do we get something unique in the comic book industry anymore?
BN: Totally. But even if Marvel never reveals what their inspiration was, so many people online are buzzing about you, and how “Toni Darling was the first female Thor.” As soon as Marvel made the announcement, my first thought was back in 2012 when I met you, and you were dressed in your costume!
TD: Before I did my costume, I did research on “female Thor,” and there were maybe only two or three prominent pictures of women online dressed in the costume of Thor. But they were just wearing the Thor costume [unmodified].
But this phenomenon that’s been happening in the last two years of women modifying the Thor costume to make it a little more sexy and more feminine started after I started doing this. That’s so cool, that it’s gotten to a point where women are becoming interested in Thor and Marvel recognized that, it’s awesome. I would love to know Marvel’s inspiration behind this.
BN:How long have you been doing cosplay, and what was your first ever costume?
TD: Thor was my first costume. [laughs] I was just fortunate in that my first costume blew up.
It was two years ago at Phoenix Comic Con. I was working with the Associated Press and doing interviews with different celebrities, and someone suggested I should try cosplay–and I’d never heard of it. I come from a small town in upstate New York and it wasn’t really a thing there. But I moved to Phoenix where cosplay is very big. Thor ended up being my first cosplay, and it was really successful. Since I have such a personal connection to it because of the mythology behind it, it was really special to me.
BN: Do you make all your own costumes?
TD: For the most part. My helmet for Thor I didn’t make. The bra was something I had commissioned by a blacksmith. Of all my costumes, Thor was the one I made the least of.
I originally made a foam bra, and my friend was like, “No, dude–you need a real one.” So I took a design to a blacksmith and had him make it. Everything else, though, subsequently, has been my design and my making. And as my skills grow, I’m able to make more.
My Kill Bill, for instance–I had this nice girl in Arizona who helped me fit it and take it in. Now, I could do it myself. And Now I’m full blown making my own armor. So in two years my skills have really grown.
BN: Finally, can you give us inside info about cosplays you have coming up?
TD: Yeah! I’m doing two group cosplays coming up at San Diego Comic Con, which I’m really excited about. Both are new, both comic book related.
One was also a TV show, and a movie, that might be recently being made into a movie again…maybe with someone who used to be in Transformers at one point. So that’s really exciting.
People already know I did a Wonder Woman, but I’ll actually be able to release that now that SDCC is coming up, because Cupcake Quarterly was generous enough to include me in this issue, so I’ll be signing those…and sporting my new Wonder Woman, and putting that online.
My costume list is probably 50 costumes long! I recently bought enough fabric for my next 15 costumes.
BN: Okay, one final question: if you had a TARDIS, what would you do?
TD: I would go back to Viking days, for sure. With a gas mask, though–because it would smell really bad. [laughs]
BN: Thank you for taking the time to talk with me, and I’m so excited to see what you have coming up.
TD: I’m really excited too, because I’ve never done a group cosplay before. I can’t wait!
And see her at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con from July 24-27!
Blake Northcott is an author, Twitter-er, and occasional Slayer of Vampires (only the ones that sparkle).You can follow her on Twitter or pick up her best-selling sci-Fi/superhero book Arena Mode over at Amazon.com.