On Gay (LGBT) Superheroes
Andrew Garfield, star of the recent Amazing Spider-Man reboot, caused a furor a few weeks ago with his comments regarding the possibility of portraying a gay Peter Parker. The furor is interesting and, honestly, not unique when it comes to comic books. Arguments about LGBT themes and characters in comics are not rare. Nor are arguments about race, gender, and culture.
Comics are in a very precarious position right now. As a business, it needs new readers and fans in order to expand. But at the same time, publishers don’t want to alienate long time fans. (I think this only refers to Marvel, DC, and those smaller publishers that publish corporate owned properties.) A lot of new fans (and old fans) want an increase in the level of diversity in the various heroes and villains that Marvel and DC put out. More women, more people of color, more LGBT, etc. But there is also a strong contingent that argues against diversity, though they may couch those arguments to mask their true motivations. And what of the politics of those fans who don’t frequent comics websites? While the industry is moving in the right direction, there is a strong conservatism within the industry.
Would I like to see Peter Parker explore his sexuality? Hell yes, I think it would be interesting (and hot) for Spider-Man to be written as bisexual (rather than gay, which raises a whole ‘nother can o’ worms). Peter Parker is meant to represent the underdog, the poor kid who struggles to make good. So writing him as bisexual, or Latino, or African American, or all three would be very interesting. But how can it be done?
And that, I think is the question I want fans, particularly those in the pro diversity camp (myself included), to think about. In what media do you want this to happen in? Marvel 616? Ultimate Marvel (where this happened with Miguel Martinez)? Cartoons? Cinematic?
Let’s say I succeed Dan Slott as the next writer of Spider-Man (what ever title that may be). And, for argument’s sake, Joe Quesada and my immediate editor approve a story line that explores Spidey’s sexuality. What then? Would the cinematic Spidey be bisexual, too? Is that, perhaps, the end goal? A LGBT cinematic action hero?
Personally, when it comes to increasing diversity in comics, I’m strongly in favor of introducing new characters. Rather than writing or rewriting a character, create new characters.
But there is a problem. A (potentially) fatal problem.
It takes years for some characters to come to the heights of popularity that Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, etc. have. I want to see Northstar get elevated. And Wiccan and Hulkling. And Karolina Dean. I could go on. But those characters will take years (if ever) for them to attain those storied heights.
But it is not impossible. A great miniseries or ongoing staring Northstar might be the first push (or maybe just focusing more on him in whatever team book he appears in). Though, is that the endgame?
Because Batwoman has achieved that. She has her own ongoing series, often praised as the second best of the Batman family after Snyder’s Batman). But she has, yet, to attain the levels of popularity that Wonder Woman has.
Perhaps the way to go is not to wish Wonder Woman or Spider-Man as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, but rather to promote Batwoman and Northstar into similar positions.
Maybe they won’t get a movie on their own. But maybe with enough attention, they could have supporting roles in their respective franchises? (I’d love to see the Bat family expand in the movies, but the X-Men franchise is a mess- really needs a reboot).
The more I think about this, the more I wonder if the issue may not be comics after all but the adaptations spawned by those comics. Is this really about the comics or the movies?
Because, the more I think about it, a bisexual Spider-Man means that Northstar (or Wiccan and Hulkling) aren’t getting that attention. And they are the ones who need it.
Posted on July 25, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged Andrew Garfield, comic books, Comic Books on Film, DC, Marvel, Northstar needs the attention, Spider-Man Gay, Writing. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.