The world of comic books has a long and proud tradition of pushing the envelope when it comes to social issues, finding entertaining and sometimes subtle ways to make the case for progressive ideas. In light of that tradition and recent developments in television and popular culture, now would be the perfect time to tackle the next civil rights hurdle by introducing a transgender superhero.
With “Avengers: Age of Ultron” set to add generously to Marvel’s $7 billion in global box office its earned so far for its cinematic universe — 10 films from “Iron Man” to “Guardians of the Galaxy” — the company certainly has the clout and the safety net to take a few risks if it felt so bold. And approaching a topic like transgender issues head-on in a major studio film would certainly count as bold.
It’s not such a crazy idea, right? “I say right on,” RuPaul tells Metro. “Actually, all superheroes are transgender. All superheroes are trans-something. That’s what makes them superheroes. And the reason we all as a culture identify with superheroes is that we know that there is a force in each and every one of us that usually other people can’t see. Truthfully, each of us is transgender. Each of us, every single one of us, whether we know it or not.”
Hayden Black, writer-director-executive producer of theupcominggroundbreaking animated seriesGen Zed, concurs. “I think it’s long overdue. ‘Orange is the New Black’ seemed to light the fuse, and ‘Transparent’ seemed to be the firework that exploded, and now you’ve got a lot of trans awareness like never before, which is fantastic and long, long overdue,” Black says. “But I want to make sure that it’s done right, that it’s done correctly. Lazy writing and tropes and stereotypes can do far more damage than even ignoring it.”
So supposing Marvel were to re-introduce one of its movie heroes as transgender, which do-gooder should it be? The Hulk’s entire persona is centered around transformation, so that could be an easy — and high-profile — choice. Or, since we’re set to see yet another iteration of the character onscreen soon, how about Spider-Man? With comics precedence set by Spider-Woman and “Spider-Gwen,” a woman slinging webs would fit just fine. And it would make sitting through yet another Peter Parker origin story a lot more interesting.
Black has some surprising suggestions backed up by research, though: “A large number of trans women end up in the armed forces before finally realizing there’s no running from who they are,” he says. “So it would be interesting to see Judge Dredd, for example — someone who has put forward such a mask of uber-masculinity in a Herculean effort to cover who they truly are. Or the Punisher, he would be fantastic. I mean, the Punisher’s fairly torn to begin with, so to add in a whole new layer of emotions and stuff for them to deal with, I think that would just be really phenomenal.”
What do you think? Which existing Marvel character — or DC, for that matter — would make a good candidate for a transgender reboot?
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