The Interplay is a special biweekly series exploring the intersections of sex, pop culture, and current events.
Yesterday, word broke that a young Bobby Drake, transported to the future at the beginning of Marvel’s All New X-Men, was actually one of Marvel’s few gay, active superheroes. Fans were sent reeling by the revelation, considering the older Iceman’s storied history of being a ladies’ man and Jean Grey’s suggestion that the older Bobby was, (probably) still straight. In readers’ defense, some of the confusion was understandable.
Unlike other alternate versions of fan-favorite characters who are revealed to be gay, this version of Iceman wasn’t from an alternate reality or timeline. Rather, this teenaged Bobby Drake was simply from the past and he was outed by a Jean Grey who, in her time, didn’t yet have access to her telepathy. Technically speaking this Bobby is the same one that we’ve known all along.
Speaking to MTV News, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso explained the editorial decision to out young Iceman as being gay. According to Alonso the plot twist isn’t just a narrative stunt or Marvel attempting to meet a diversity quota.
“It was our subsequent conversations about what the next story would be that really sold me,” Alonso explained. “This is a character with decades of history, and one who we’ve seen falter on the romantic stage — more than once. So the seeds were always there.”
The “seeds” that Alonso is describing are a few decades’ worth of failed relationships with women that Bobby, try as he might’ve, simply couldn’t maintain. Magneto’s daughter Polaris, Mystique, Kitty Pryde, and a human woman named Opal who attempted to trick Bobby into fatherhood make up his extensive roster of a romantic rogues gallery. Before, it was easy to look at Iceman’s dating history as a whole now, and see a stereotypical casanova. With these new assertions (and discrepancies) about his sexuality, though, Marvel is addressing sexual identity in a much more interesting and authentic way.
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