(Warning - the following contains mild theoretical SPOILERS for future X-Men movies, as well as some more substantial ones for recent X-Men comic books. Proceed with whatever level of caution your innate SPOILER-aversion suggests is wise...)
Now, considering the fact that gay marriage remains controversial nationwide (and illegal in a shockingly large number of countries), it's perhaps not too surprising that the recent revelation that long-time X-Men stalwart Bobby 'Iceman' Drake has been in the closet for over five decades caused something of a stir.
With attitudes rapidly changing for the better, though, much of the debate around the issue had more to do with the temporal complexity of the hero being outed by his younger, time-displaced self than it did with his actual sexuality...
...as well as, more problematically, the question of whether or not it was appropriate to 'out' long-standing characters who fans had believed to be straight.
Now, with the former being the brain-addling sort of thing that comic book fans have long-since gotten used to, and the latter being perfectly refuted by Iceman's original co-creator Stan Lee pointing out that he was totally fine with it, the main question still standing was that of why Iceman had never told anyone about his sexuality before. Which, as it turns out, the comic book Bobby Drake explained pretty much perfectly all by himself:
What's more, many fans recalled, Bobby has long been rumored to be gay - with a number of past X-Men writers having slipped what seem in retrospect to be subtle clues as to his hidden sexuality into multiple comic book story-lines.
In the comic books, then, Bobby being gay really isn't all that big of a deal - but can the same be said for his movie counterpart? After all:
The Movie Iceman Has Always Been Defined By His 'Straightness'
Or, rather, the on-screen Bobby Drake - as played by Shawn Ashmore - has largely functioned in the movies as a romantic foil for Anna Paquin's Rogue, with his apparent heterosexuality extending to a love triangle (with Ellen Page's Kitty Pryde) back in X-Men: The Last Stand. With X-Men: Days of Future Past's ending also hinting at a long-term future for Rogue and Iceman, then, is it safe to say that Iceman's newly revealed comic book sexuality won't be making its way into the movies?
Well, perhaps, but...
Shawn Ashmore Thinks Iceman Should Be Gay in the Movies Too
Specifically, the actor revealed in a recent interview with IGN that it's likely the best option for developing the character further:
"I think it’d probably be the most interesting thing that could happen to Bobby in the films. If they decided to take the story that way, it’d be incredibly dramatic, it’d be an interesting storyline, and it would give Bobby a great character arc. I’d definitely be open to that, but again, I’m not sure if they want to take the character in that direction. I have no idea how they would play that out. I think it’d be very interesting."
Though, admittedly, he remains very much aware of the problems that Bobby's distinctly romantic plot-lines would present to such a plot-line:
"Obviously the comics and movies are separate. I wonder what the transition would be because we’ve sort of established Bobby as having a love interest in Rogue and having a love interest in sort of Kitty Pryde, but I think it’d be really interesting."
All of which raises an interesting question:
Just How Faithful Should Comic Book Movie Characters Remain To Their Source Material?
After all, we've grown so used to filmmakers chopping and changing elements of our favorite heroes over the years that Bobby Drake being gay in the comic books, but straight in the movies, wouldn't arguably be all that jarring to the average fan. With the cinematic X-Men (much like the Marvel and DC Cinematic Universes) bearing often only a passing resemblance to their comic book counterparts, do we even need Iceman to come out on screen?
Well, in one sense, the problem isn't especially pressing, seeing as there seem to be no plans to bring Ashmore's Iceman back to the screen anytime soon, rendering the issue distinctly hypothetical. That being said, the basic question - of whether a key element of a comic book hero's character should be represented on the big screen - is likely to remain controversial, especially when we're talking about sexuality. What's more, there's also the issue of whether or not retrospective changes - like, for instance, Iceman coming out of the closet - should be treated as being just as essential as longer standing elements of the character are.
The big problem being? There probably isn't a hard and fast, universally correct answer to all of this. Iceman's sexuality would certainly make for an intriguing - and perhaps socially important - addition to the movies, but in a world where Mystique is a hero in the movies and a brutal villain in the comic books, there're always going to be discrepancies and divergences. Ultimately, the filmmakers - and we as fans - are going to have to choose which elements of a character need to be translated onto the screen.
The hard part, then? Deciding which ones truly matter.
What do you think, though?