Superheroes, coming out on the big screen

Superheroes, coming out on the big screen

hollywood diaries

Superheroes, coming out on the big screen


Yellow Ranger
Comic book fans are notoriously impatient, and one scene in the new movie Saban’s Power Rangers won’t be enough for many. A review on the website Comics Alliance noted the awkwardness of the scene and said it was “hardly a declaration of Hollywood’s first gay superhero.” But the producers of Saban’s Power Rangers optimistically envision five more movies. That leaves time for the Yellow Ranger to mightily morph into a confident young lesbian.

This feline fatale, who at various times is an ally, love interest or enemy of Batman, has been played on film by Lee Meriwether (1966), Michelle Pfeiffer (1992), Halle Berry (2004) and Anne Hathaway (2012). Then confirmation came in 2015 in the comics that Catwoman is bisexual. All it took was her hijacking Gotham City’s mob and consummating it with a kiss with the mob heiress Eiko Hasigawa.

The tribulations of the outcast mutant X-Men have often been used as allegories for the struggles of the oppressed. In X2, from 2003, Iceman (portrayed by Shawn Ashmore) comes out, but only about his superpowers. The scene resonated with gay viewers. “Have you ever tried not being a mutant?” his mother wondered. Twelve years later, the comic book character came out about his sexuality. And thanks to time travel, there are two versions of him (both gay) in the Marvel Universe. The conversation between his younger self pushing his older self to come out is worth a screen adaptation in itself.

Comic books can be like soap operas, and the shape-shifter Mystique (who has been portrayed by Rebecca Romijn and Jennifer Lawrence) has been through a lot: she led a mutant terrorist group, served as an operative of a government agency and suffered a mental breakdown. She is also the mother of Nightcrawler and was in a longtime relationship with Destiny, a female mutant who can see the future and who helped her raise Rogue, another X-Man. Mystique is literally gender-fluid, so there’s a lot of potential for future stories.

Wonder Woman
It took 75 years after her creation to arrive at this point, but the comic-book version of Wonder Woman is bisexual. Two retellings of her origin last year made it clear that Diana of Themyscira, as she is known out of costume, had same-sex relationships before she left her island home. The screen version of Wonder Woman was the big winner in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice last year, and hopes are high for her solo outing in June. I’m still rooting for Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), but acknowledging a less than 100% straight past for the most renowned heroine in comics would be seismic.


“I am gay.” With those words from 25 years ago, the mutant Northstar sparked a revolution in the depiction of gay heroes in comic books. An editorial in The New York Times welcomed the revelation. Northstar’s backstory is rich: He is French Canadian, a ski champion and has a twin sister, Jeanne-Marie, with a bipolar disorder and similar powers of flight and speed. In 2012, he married his boyfriend.

Wonder Woman stole Batman v Superman, and history may repeat itself with Aquaman, thanks to his thrilling moments in the recently released trailer for Justice League, due in November. A solo film is scheduled for next year, and with a potential franchise in mind, producers will have to examine his supporting cast. Look no further than the recently reintroduced new Aqualad, the gay black son of one of Aquaman’s greatest villains. He’ll soon join some of his other fellow sidekicks in the comic Teen Titans.

After her debut in 1956, Kathy Kane eventually was part of a parade of characters (including Bat-Girl, Bat-Hound and an other-dimensional imp, Bat-Mite) sharing a famous mantle. Batwoman fell into obscurity and was murdered in 1979, but she returned in 2006 as a lesbian who had been discharged from the military. In 2013, the acclaimed creative team behind a Batwoman series left the title because of an editorial decision that prevented her from marrying her girlfriend. Her new series began in February, and she’s like a female James Bond, with the adventures and perhaps the dalliances to match.

Kevin Keller
He does not have special abilities, but Kevin Keller is still a hero to many fans. Archie Comics should be applauded for how this openly gay character has been depicted since his debut in 2010. He revealed himself as a matter of course and quickly became part of Archie’s gang. Today, Kevin has his own digital series, set a few years after college, which chronicles his efforts to find his path, professionally and romantically. The character is also part of the television series Riverdale, in which he is so accepted that even his father, the town’s sheriff, encourages him to find an equally nice guy to date.