Anyone who has read my posts here knows about my drive for improved representation of the LGBTQ community, and that movies, in particular the currently hugely popular superhero movies, are way behind in that regard. Hell, GLAAD have started the hashtag #HollywoodMustDoBetter given the current incredible lack of positive LGBTQ visibility in cinema and resurgence of troubling 'gay panic' storylines.
Well, it seems me and GLAAD aren't the only ones.
Shawn Ashmore, who brought to life popular X-Men character Iceman a.k.a. Bobby Drake in four of the X-Men movies, has recently come out in support of playing Iceman as gay in the movies.
"What I think is interesting is that the X-Men have always been about diversity, it's the key message of the film. For the X-Men what makes us different is what makes us great, so if Iceman or Bobby came out in a film I think it would stay very much on point and on message about what the films are about. We did establish him as having a love interest with Rogue and with Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat) so it would have to be handled well to have that shift in his sexuality work for viewers. I think it could be really interesting.
Of course, Iceman has recently come out in the comics, so it would be a further reflection of the comics in the movies. However, reflecting the comics has never been much of a concern for superhero movies and especially not in the X-Men films, which have taken inspiration from the books but looks, characterisations and events are often wildly different.
And as many will argue, and Ashmore points out himself, Iceman has been shown in heterosexual relationships in the films. However, that's not to say the character can't be gay in actuality, just as has been done with the character in the comics.
As I've mentioned before, many people come out and come to the understanding of their own sexuality much later in life, and often after having lived as what is considered 'the norm'. Same could be argued for the movie Iceman.
When we first meet him, he's clearly the popular, main kid in school, which any person who has been in that position and been LGBTQ can probably share is a lot of pressure to be seen as not different or 'weird'. He then starts a relationship with a girl he can't even touch. And then sabotages that relationship with another girl, with seemingly little explanation.
If the story is handled right, it could be done. Sadly, as Ashmore also points out, there is currently no plan for another X-Men movie, and none with him in at least.
But an LGBTQ character and representation in superhero movies? It is so needed. To date, there are no significant inclusion of queer characters in the superhero movies, outside of tired, 'prison gay' jokes in Marvel's Iron Man 3 extras. The little LGBTQ representation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is mainly in the TV side of things, and as Bleeding Cool has previously reported, connection between the TV and movie sides are strained to say the least.
Hollywood does indeed need to do better. Much as many of the superhero movies have been a lot of fun and well received, they're lack of diversity, and not just in terms of LGBTQ, is increasingly obvious. And to have the old arguments of fearing if a non-white or non-male or non-straight lead character is 'marketable' or 'will sell' are tired and stuck in very old thinking.
So if you will excuse the pun, I personally think it would be cool if Shawn Ashmore gets to bring the gay storyline to the movie Iceman sometime soon.
Joe Glass is a Bleeding Cool contributor and comic writer. Creator of LGBTQ superhero team The Pride, which is available here and on Comixology, and co-writer of Wales-based horror comedy Stiffs, available here and on Comixology.