Sunday, August 30, 2009

X-Men & Sex Boys

1) This is a major expansion of a previous blog of mine.

2)  Before I start, let me address my credentials. I am a Spider-Man fan. I am such a geek I own over $100,000 of Spider-Man issues. Therefore I speak with authority, and I have a message to all you Batman lovers: get fucking laid.

Let’s backtrack here and get on neutral ground. Let’s enter the world of X-men.

There was a period of X-men where the comic book was actually a good read. The original Chris Claremont years were an interesting time specifically because he brought female teen angst into the picture. Sure you have your machismo Wolverine issues, but the angry Canadian (no such thing, btw) was often dealing with a team pussywhipped with estrogen: Kitty Pryde, Rogue, Storm, Jean Grey, Dazzler, Psylocke. When Stan Lee created the original X-men the ratio was a balanced gang bang: four guys to one girl. But by the time Claremont was through, the roster was so feminized the gang bang morphed into a girl/girl extravaganza, with Storm and her butch mohawk leading the way.

Unlike most comic books, X-men stories often revolved around the female heroines, and make no mistake, these were all horny girls.


The perception and common knowledge is that X-men is about racism or McCarthyism, but that is the defensively male-centric point of view. Different era’s produce different messages, and in the 80’s when the book was really clicking, plot lines mostly revolved around romances, escalating into marital issues and in the case of Cyclops and Jean Grey – loss of a child (Issue #200, AKA the Ashley Judd issue). X-Men wasn’t about racism or McCarthyism. X-men was Desperate Housewives with superpowers. The only thing Mutants were hiding from the public was the right for teenage boys to play Barbie.

So Bryan Singer got it right - but even more right than he thought. X-men is not an allegorical story where mainstream superheroes stand as metaphors for gay people. X-men is a mainstream superhero book for the teenage male readership to explore their gay side under the guise of fighting ridiculously fey villains - the Hellfire Club, or the supergroup that sounds like they popped out of a Village People song: The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. 

Right. The lady doth protest too much.

Meanwhile, Wolverine is the most butch character in the Marvel Universe because he is a shining counterpart to the Spice Girls he is a part of.  That’s right, for the shamed X-men reader, Wolverine is their beard.

This is the real practical lesson of X-men. We are all a little gay. And that’s fine by me.

Yet fanboys salivate at the theory of the “hardcore” X-men film with mutant powers exploding from Magneto’s hands (coincidentally played by gay gandalf Sir Ian Mckellan). They want “reality.” But like a James Bond villain with a giant laser scope aimed at his crotch, there is a forced tempered break in execution in order to fufill the audience’s wish. They don’t want to see Bond’s nuts vaporized, though that is the likeliest outcome when you are strapped to a table, and they don’t want to see their beard Wolverine die. So like a triumphant Wile E. Coyote, Wolverine manages to defeat Magneto, although his bones are made of metal and Magneto could easily crush him into anal beads for his next Paul Oakenfold rave.

Reality is a tricky thing to demand out of your superhero movies. The problem with asking for versimilitude is that the core superhero logic was designed for the brains of twelve year old boys. Even when the heroes get updated for the modern manchild who can afford $3.99 for a ten minute read, the supposedly complex themes now added to their cartoon origins can become ridiculous. For all the metaphors against anti-semitism X-men can try to infuse, it all gets muddled when you consider that there really are bad mutants trying to take over the world. For all of Xavier’s dreams of equal rights and that humans have no reason to fear mutants and their powers, he does call himself Homo Superior and he spends an awful lot of time trying to protect said human beings from Giant Blobs and crazy shape shifting killers trying to become President by murder. This is the equivalent of a Seinfeld episode in redneck Mississippi where Seinfeld saves their churches while fighting George Costanza, who is hurling bolting flames of World Bank Loans at Christians.

And so, no matter how “real” you may consider Heath Ledger’s portrayal of a preposterous criminal mastermind clown in a purple suit is, it’s still in service of a guy who barely covers his juicy rubber buttocks with a cape. Batman, as a concept, is fucking dumb.

Bruce Wayne is the richest man in Gotham and also the crime fighter who saves people from the city's rampant crime. Yet what causes crime? Poverty. What causes poverty? Poor business management and misappropriation of urban planning viz a vis mismanaged taxes and civic leadership. Who has the biggest business in Gotham? Bruce Wayne. Who has the most influence over urban planning and civic leadership? Bruce Wayne. Who apparently found tax loopholes to save money in his company and underfund Gotham's police force? Bruce Wayne.

The kicker is Bruce Wayne took his company private from the evil shareholders. So the poor workers can't even profit from investing in his stock as he rapes Gotham of every industrial contract he inevitably wins. In return for him running the city into the ground, Gotham gets the joy of Bruce Wayne running around in a rubber batsuit beating up on desperate poverty stricken criminals who do not get to go home to a mansion and a man servant at night. His gift to you: a scary bat to "keep you in line." Thanks, Bruce!

The story goes Bruce Wayne is righteous because his parents got shot. Cry him a river, because most of the criminals in Gotham never even knew their parents. They were abandoned while billionaire Bruce was closing down Wayne Industry shops and moving them to slave workers in China to manufacture 1,000 redundant bat ears (this is true, see Batman Begins). That is some straight up Enron shit.

Fanboys who like Batman better than Superman are fucking fascists. Not only that, they are pseudo-Republicans who spend in actuality more than Democrats and think like a 2003 Iraqi War council: Batman is supposedly a "real" superhero with no powers, except that with unlimited cash, he can fly (Bat-wing!), stop bullets (Bat-vest!), take down a heavily armed militia with just his karate chopping hands (Bat-surd!), and spread democracy to adoring, happy Muslims (Bat-fucked!).

Dark Knight? More like Douche Knight.

Reality and superheroes fit like Brandon Routh’s codpiece, bulging and snug because Warner Brothers needs to prove to their fanboy base that there’s nothing but heterosexual virality here. Not like those pussy X-Men at Fox. And definitely not like that queer nerd Peter Parker at Sony who is now in his emo/dancing musical phase.

Reality is the ultimate beard to wear on your manchild chin to prove that adaptations of  grappling, near naked wrestlers with the uncanny power to freeze each other’s balls off  are not gay. But there is always one way to queer-proof your Greek God fantasies: move on up to the next level. Replace your silly rubber suit with armour. Take away any unrealistic need for superhuman strength with a completely technologically sound exoskeleton for complete plausibility. Bonus points that your hero is a playboy, fucking hot models til his dick bleeds. And make sure he’s played by a completely heterosexual actor.

You know, like Robert Downey, Jr.


  1. It's partly why Tim Burton's two Batmans are more legitimate to me than The Dark Knight. The more you try to make something like this "realistic," the less credible it feels. I could take it more seriously as an abstraction.

  2. Abstractions don't score high on audience research cards during rough edits. Tim Burton's Batman is the least butch of all the movie incarnations. Even Adam West had a macho swagger. I would put it a tie between Clooney and Bale for most butch Batman.

  3. Great article - you've helped me put my finger on exactly why I've been suffering from superhero fatigue.

  4. It's like watching too much of the same porn.

  5. some of the best queer theorising I've read in years. No jargon and no academic clap trap. Keep it coming. I like this. More please.

  6. If I ever figure out what jargon means, I'll put some in. Thanks!

  7. X-Men [along with TMNT's April O'Neil] was really my first intro to equating feminine sex appeal and power, so storm in her freaky white unitard with the deep clevage was my first pseudo-gay crush, because I loved the rampaging butchy femme image - it totally screamed 'horny', like she was out to take over the world with just her sex, not that I could put my finger on it at the time.

    I used to play her in the arcade game and fantasize about the character - something in between being turned on by her, and wanting to be her. Hot superheroine chicks gifted with cool powers still do it for me.

  8. also, disney's purchase of marvel today makes this post even more interesting.

  9. I know what you mean. I had a crush on She-Hulk as a kid, even though her clitoris probably fits a Magnum XL. Marvel's already licensed all their main characters to other studios. And Captain America's costume looks like it was stitched together by Dolce & Gabanna during their blue period.

  10. comic books to me are like porn with better stories and no penetration shots. i love anything with more pictures then words. this post is f'ing genius, and it's about time for a real blog. your knowledge of pop culture is intimidating. i think warhol just rolled over in his grave.

  11. ohhhh, i linked the account properly! time to celebrate. where's my glitter..

  12. McDermitt, if you were a superhero you are definitely somewhere between Northstar and Wonder Woman. Maybe with a little Dazzler thrown in. Look it up.

  13. "Bonus points that your hero is a playboy, fucking hot models til his dick bleeds. And make sure he’s played by a completely heterosexual actor."

    This part is very funny!!!

    By the way, I'm going to watch District 9. Later, I'll tell you what I think! ;)