Is One Superhero’s Same-Sex Marriage an Existential Threat to Comic Book Marriages?

Superhero marriages are pretty extravagant.<a href="http://www.themarysue.com/view-announces-marvel-marriage/" target="_blank">Marvel/The Mary Sue</a>


Marvel Comics’ Northstar, a French-Candian superhero who came out as gay in the 1990s, is getting married to his longtime boyfriend Kyle. Jill Pantozzi at The Mary Sue explains:

In a press release Axel Alonso, Marvel Editor in Chief, said, “The Marvel Universe has always reflected the world outside your window, so we strive to make sure our characters, relationships and stories are grounded in that reality. We’ve been working on this story for over a year to ensure Northstar and Kyle’s wedding reflects Marvel’s ‘world outside your window’ tradition.”

Judging by the images, Northstar and Kyle appear to be getting married in New York, which legalized same-sex marriage last year. Popular culture has played a significant role in humanizing gays and lesbians to straight audiences—Vice President Joe Biden literally (literally) cited the NBC sitcom Will & Grace as contributing to his “evolution” on the issue of same-sex marriage.

Like many other subcultures, comic book geeks can veer from the open-minded to the distressingly homophobic. Marvel rival DC Comics will soon be letting one of its established characters out of the closet, which for the reasons Alyssa Rosenberg outlines here seems much more risky than a same-sex wedding. Marrying off Northstar, who’s long been understood to be gay, is different from altering an existing character. Comic book geeks, you must understand, are frequently possessing of a Burkean reverance for tradition. Same-sex marriage is no big deal, but a writer who changes the color of Superman’s costume could get burned in effigy.

Given how some corners of the conservative media reacted to Marvel introducing a black, Latino Spider-Man last year, we can probably expect some culture war rage over this latest attempt to warp the minds of children into thinking that gays and lesbians are people. But take heart, anti-marriage equality conservatives! Comic book marriages tend to be doomed, because happily ever after doesn’t work out so well when you have to keep writing new adventures every week. Between telepathic affairs, space-time continuum altering Faustian bargains, homicidal rage, and plain old continuity reboots, Northstar’s straight colleagues face existential threats to their unions that are far more serious than a gay superhero getting hitched. Those existential threats are a lot like the “existential threat” marriage equality supposedly poses to “traditional marriage” in that they’re also entirely fictional.

Adam Serwer is filling in while Kevin is on vacation.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.