Sunday, June 3, 2012

Old News: One of the Million Different Green Lanterns Created by DC is Gay

As I wrote before in my article concerning film and tv archery, it is strange how trends in media can catch on so quickly. Recently, there has been a lot of hoopla about gay superheroes in the comics world. I write this not to inform, as I am sure every other comics site has a more informative article, but rather to point out a few things tat crossed my mind.

The original Green Lantern was an obvious
symbol for religious piety and heterosexuality.
Comics are behind the curve- Think of a prominent gay superhero. Unless you named Batwoman, you should reconsider your definition of the word "prominent". I actually but Batwoman out there just because she is a member of the Bat-Family and she has a good series. While DC and Marvel have improved the LG superheroes (I haven't seen a lot of BTQ), television, film, and every other medium seem to have more well known gay figures. So, I agree it is nice that everyones third favorite member of Alpha Flight is marrying his boyfriend, it's great that Teen Titans introduced the gay hero Bunker, and it is wonderful that the non-space cop Green Lantern is gay, but DC and Marvel comics are still playing catchup to every other medium.

Why are only second or third tier heroes gay?- Now, It may be hard to make Superman dump Lois Lane for his "Best Pal" Jimmy Olsen, but why aren't any well known comic characters gay? Sure Green Lantern is, but there are five human green lanterns and the one in this article wasn't played by Ryan Reynolds. Comics are read by comics people, so the message of "it's okay to be a gay superhero" will reach a relatively small audience until it comes up in a more mainstream media. Superheroes from comics are easy fodder for films and cartoons, so why aren't any of the characters picked up by other mediums gay?

The new "gay" version of Green Lantern
Why are people mad?- I understand why conservative christians are mad, I disagree with their views, but they are predictable. My major concern comes from people I have seen on comment threads and discussion forums who are supportive of having LGBTQ characters, but are angered by the quick transition of formerly straight characters i.e. Green Lantern Alan Scott. Comics constantly change characters and back stories, particularly with a large reboot like DC's new52, a change like this should have been expected for some characters. While Alan Scott was a classic, he had 70 years to develop, a little change can be good. Another common complaint came from people claiming that all comics should be seen as pure fantasy and should be free of messages, political or otherwise. This complaint is ludicrous as any art form no matter how commercial or silly cannot be devoid of message.

A lot more work needs to be done- creating new gay characters and rethinking classic heroes is great, but diversifying comics can't stop after this little media dust-up. Creators should continue to seek reality and parable in their medium despite its classification as fantasy. While strides have been made by DC and Marvel to be inclusive to lesbian and gay communities, I urge the two major comic companies to continue to make comics more diverse. Why has there been no recent DC or Marvel film staring a hero of color*? I am not trying to belittle the achievements made thus far, I just want to see more.


Added (June 8)- I forgot to mention Mystique, who is  fairly mainstream and is a lesbian.

*By my count there have been five DC/Marvel Films staring black actors, but none of other races.
1997- Steel (DC) staring Shaquille O'Neal. Tomatometer 12%
1998- Blade (Marvel) starring Wesley Snipes. Tomatometer 55%
2002- Blade II (Marvel) starring Wesley Snipes. Tomatometer 59%
2004- Blade Trinity (Marvel) starring Wesley Snipes. Tomatometer 26%
2004- Catwoman (DC) starring Halle Berry. Tomatometer 10% (comic Catwoman is white)
Future?- Nick Fury (Marvel) starring Samuel L. Jackson. I did not include this film as it has not been made yet. The original Nick Fury was white and an alternate Nick Fury was created for the Ultimate universe, filmmakers chose this version of Fury for the films.