I'm sorry, but there is nothing about tucking your junk into skin-tight spandex and wrestling other men in the dark that isn't ever so slightly homoerotic — it just is. However, while Hollywood moves forward with a packed slate of female-first superheroes like Wonder Woman and Batgirl, where are the men who prefer the company of other men?
Gender has always been enough of a stigma attached to #comicbook movies, but sexuality seems to be an issue that will cast a rainbow-colored shadow over the industry for quite some time. We have seen the macho worlds of Captain America, Wolverine, and Batman, all while Peggy Carter, Silverfox, and Talia al Ghul play second fiddle. However, perhaps some of our male heroes would prefer a cosmopolitan and an episode of RuPaul's Drag Race than chomping on a cigar and having an arm wrestle while ladies swoon.
The pages of Marvel, DC, and beyond are "out and proud" with bisexual and even homosexual heroes, but cinema is yet to embrace the rainbow flag of change in its movies. Even on TV, Gotham's decision to give Penguin and Riddler a romance story was met with some pretty vocal opposition. So, when is the right time for the likes of Bobby Drake to bring Iceman out of the deep freeze closet?
Let's Talk About Sex, Baby
Speaking on the issue of sexuality and superheroes, Sir Ian McKellen has offered his view on the situation. McKellen played Erik Lehnsherr, a.k.a. Magneto, for five X-Men films, and while the Fassbender era of the character was very much in the heterosexual camp, we never really addressed McKellen's version of Magneto's tastes.
In a recent interview with Variety, the openly homosexual McKellen said that we should start embracing the diversity of our comics before our movies get stuck in the stone age. In particular, he looked to Marvel to make the first move:
“I would think Marvel is a very responsible publishing house who came up with X-Men — which is a political story about life as it is lived by minorities of whom mutants are a prime example — would respond very favorably to the idea of having a gay or bisexual or transgender superhero. Can you imagine because of it all the wonderful complications of the story — mistaken identities, etcetera etcetera."
It is true that Marvel was responsible for Northstar being one of the first openly gay superheros, but since then, the publishing house has introduced other LGBT characters like Mystique, Hulkling, and Daken. However, given the amount of flesh on show in comic books, McKellen thinks that there could be a few more heroes hiding their true colors:
“Frankly, looking at some of the images of these superheroes, I’m surprised to know that they’re not gay… It’s the reason I played Magneto; I wanted to look like that."
Well, I think we all know that Wolverine would belong to the "Daddy" tribe on Grindr.
The Times They Are A Changin'
Way back when, the characters of Batgirl and Batwoman were actually introduced solely to nix the assumption that Batman and Robin were becoming a little too "gay" for each other — a situation you thankfully can't imagine now. However, as the Gotham twist has shown, any hero can be any sexuality they want and we don't necessarily have to adhere to their comic book backstory — just like the films don't have to adhere to the comic sexuality.
Although Iceman officially came out in 2015, you don't hear anyone calling for someone to recast Shawn Ashmore's Bobby Drake and bring a gay character to Dark Phoenix, but you can only imagine the uproar if they introduced him as a gay character.
So far, the closest we have got to equal sexuality representation among superheroes was in Zack Snyder's Watchmen. With the film dividing its critics anyway, the sexuality of heroes like Silhouette, Hooded Justice, and Captain Metropolis was neatly glossed over in a short montage that was ironically set to Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A Changin'." Annoyingly, it seems that only the darker or R-rated source material seems free enough to address LGBT issues on our screens. McKellen may see the MCU as the perfect place to launch a sexually diverse roster, but some of Disney's PC parade are sure to be up in arms.
That being said, only this year we saw the Yellow Ranger question her sexuality in Power Rangers, and James Gunn made that annoyingly vague and frankly derisive comment about the Guardians of the Galaxy. With the Guardians having Heather Douglas and Phyla-Vell as one of the best same-sex couples out there — and with both possibly being teased for the future of the franchise — we may not have too long to wait until the MCU takes heed of McKellen's words. What does it matter anyway really? Regardless of whether you like men, women, green-skinned aliens, or even growing trees played by Vin Diesel, everyone still looks damn good in that lycra!
Do you think we should have more LGBT heroes in comic book movies?