Monday, 27 April 2015
Original X-Men Member Iceman Comes Out As Gay
Marvel Comics are continuing their current push to diversify their super hero roster by making one of the oldest, most recognisable and powerful members of the X-Men franchise, Bobby 'Iceman' Drake, gay.
In recent years Marvel have introduced a new, black Spider-Man, a Muslim Ms Marvel, a female Thor and even made Captain America black by replacing original Captain America Steve Rodgers with former Falcon Sam Wilson. So far these changes and new introductions to their universe have been well met, with the new Thor comics selling better then the previous run on the book. With such positive reactions and the companies desire to create a universe more reflective of a diverse real world it's no surprise that they have chosen to make one of their most popular characters gay.
Now I know some of you will be saying, 'but is Iceman really all that important a character?' Well the answer is yes. He might not be a Wolverine, or a Captain America or an Iron-Man, but Iceman is one of the oldest mutants in the Marvel universe, being one of the five founding members of the X-Men. Iceman is also one of the few Omega-Level Mutants, making him one of the most powerful individuals in the entire Marvel Universe. Add on to this his inclusion in four of the X-Men motion pictures and he has gained a level of recognisability amongst even casual film goers.
So, if Iceman has been around for so long why has he only come out as gay now? Well, the interesting thing is that the Iceman who has been around since the 60's isn't the one who has been revealed as gay, but his younger counterpart who has been transported into the modern era along with the other founding team members in the comic 'All New X-Men'.
In the most recent issue of the book after making a comment about the physical attractiveness of X-Man Magik, Bobby is confronted by Jean Grey, who due to her psychic abilities is able to tell that Iceman is in fact gay.
The younger Iceman tries to initially deny the revelation, even going so far as to state that he can't be because the older version of himself appears to be straight. Jean points out to him that despite having dated women in the past the older Iceman has had very little romantic success, hinting that the original Bobby Drake may have been gay all along but trying to live in denial.
This may not be too far from the truth, as fans have speculated for many years that Iceman was gay. Having had a string of relationships with women that never really went anywhere for him and just fizzled out many gay readers began to suspect that perhaps the reason for this was that he was gay. Some readers felt their suspicions were confirmed when he started dating Rogue in the 90's. Here was a beautiful woman he was in a relationship with, but due to her powers could never be physically intimate with, making her the 'perfect beard' for a closeted gay man.
It was even stated in early 2000's that during writer Chuck Austen's run on 'Uncanny X-Men' plans were in place to finally make Iceman an openly gay character before Marvel changed their minds. It was during that run that openly gay Northstar was even attracted to him, but when he discovered that Bobby wasn't assumed that it meant it was because he was straight. A school nurse named Annie, a member of the cast at the time, suggested that perhaps it was simply because he 'didn't know yet', implying that Bobby was gay even way back then.
So, when some of the angry fans have been saying that this change has been completely out of nowhere and has no basis on X-Men history, they're actually wrong. The basis for Bobby Drake being gay has been around for years. Iceman suppressed his own powers in the past in an attempt to feel 'normal', proving that he has a massive capacity for self denial, making the idea that the older version of the character is simply in denial about his sexuality extremely believable.
Even Iceman actor Shawn Ashmore Tweeted his support for the decision to make the character gay.
I for one think that making such a high profile member of the Marvel universe gay is only a good thing, it continues the companies decision to diversify and to create a genuine universe that represents the real world. And to all of those people out there that are complaining about the change, what does it matter? You still have dozens of straight superheroes in comics, so stop complaining and let the LGBT community be represented in comics in a good way.
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