In addition to fighting Magneto, a reoccurring theme in the long-running Marvel comic series X-Men is the young superheroes’ struggles with the prejudices and isolation that come with being mutants. Those motifs will be explored on a more real-world level when an original X-Men character – Iceman, the frigid alter ego of teenager Bobby Drake – will reveal to his peers that he is gay in an upcoming issue of All-New X-Men.
“There are thousands, if not millions, of stories of people who, for many different reasons, felt the need to hide their sexuality. The X-Men, with the conceit of time travel, give us a fascinating platform in which to examine such personal journeys,” All-New X-Men writer Brian Michael Bendis said in a statement (via Wall Street Journal). “This is just the first little chapter of a much larger story that will be told.”
This new storyline deviates from both the comic’s original run and the plotline developed for the X-Men film series, which set up a story of a relationship between Iceman and the female character Rogue. In the time-twisting issue of All-New X-Men, Jean Grey – the crew’s telepath – travels back in time and reads the mind of a young Iceman, revealing that he was gay when he was a teenager. She later returns to present day to alert the older Iceman of her discovery, the Verge writes.
“Maybe he couldn’t handle being a mutant and gay in a society that had issues with both, and one is easier to ‘put away’ than the other,” the older Iceman says of his younger self before ultimately admitting that he is “full gay.” The transformation of Iceman is part of a larger effort by Marvel to add more LGBT, minority and female characters to their male-dominated superhero universe.
This isn’t the first time that Bendis altered Marvel’s origin stories to better reflect character diversity. In 2011, he co-created Miles Morales, a Black Hispanic teenager that donned the Spider-Man suit following the death of longtime webslinger Peter Parker. Morales’ character is so beloved by comic book fans today that many fans hoped he, and not Parker, would show up on the big screen when Spider-Man finally crosses path with the Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Morales’ character was partially inspired by actor and Childish Gambino rapper Donald Glover, who lobbied to portray the superhero on screen and ultimately voiced Morales in an animated series.