It is very hard to write a headline summing up a topic without it being clickbait. So I don’t. At least I hope this doesn’t read like clickbait because it most certainly isn’t intended to be clickbait. It is intended to be a rational observation about gay Iceman, black Johnny Storm and other changes happening in comic books and comic book movies that get way too much attention and way too much comments from either sides that are, frankly, missing the point entirely…
Iceman is gay and that is a problem. It’s not a problem that they made a gay character. It’s also not a problem that they made Iceman gay in a sense that there was no previous hint about him being anything else than a womanzier whatsoever. No, the problem is that the reason they made him gay is very unpleasant. Not a slippery slope, funny enough but we’ll get to that.
You see, comics, like movies or video games, are actually not art. There is a lot of art involved, no doubt but they are mere products, nothing more. Everyone who argues that comics, games or movies are art clearly ignores what is currently happening in either industry or doesn’t know what art is. And therein lies the biggest problem.
Imagine somebody walking up to you and proclaiming he is redrawing the Mona Lisa. Or somebody walking up to you and stating that he has a new vision of Michaelangelo’s David and he will re-sculpt that statue so that his new statue replaces the old one. How atrocious does that sound to you? If the answer is “What?” stop reading now you won’t understand the rest of the article.
But if those two examples sound ridiculous to you, you probably already understand my point. Art can not be replaced, rebooted, retconned or remade. Art is what it is and it stays this way and if it is art, it will stay art. And that is why movies, games and comics are not art. It should be, but it isn’t. Every time a remake or a reboot arrives at the scene the old one is disregarded except for a vocal minority that hates the reboot already, despite not having seen anything about it. That’s not how art works. Same goes for video games, once the sequel is announced, the previous version is disregarded as inferior. And comics? Well…
How many comic book characters do you know have died and stayed dead forever? How many comic book characters have never had a significant retcon in their lives? How many comic books have managed to live up to their potential of artful storytelling? THe answer is not many, if any at all. The problem is the only people who can ensure that comics or games or movies become art are the creators. And, well… A quick buck is better than eternal art you won’t make any more money off, sadly enough. Hashtag Before Watchmen.
What do you think would happen if I were to rewrite the Lord of the Rings in such a way that it would drastically alter character’s backstories or life events? How many LOTR fans would be happy about that? How many Lovecraft readers would be happy if I wrote a story where the entire Lovecraft canon is explained as a dream by Edgar A. Poe? And why is there no reboot of the Bible, a book that could CLEARLY need one?
See, that is the big problem at play here. It’s not a problem that they made Iceman gay because comics are not art. They can change the race of any character, change the gender of any person or change the sexuality of everyone in any movie, comic or videogame. Because it does not matter. If it would matter, it wouldn’t be happening.
The slippery slope argument would be that: What happens next, make Doctor Doom pretty? Well, yes, yes that is exactly what happens next. As a matter of fact that has already been announced. And it is okay because once again: Comics are NOT art! I know this upsets you but it is the sad truth. They are made by artists and have a lot of art involved but they are not art.
Art is not the sum of its parts. You can put together a lot of artistic parts and it will not be art by default. Art is something that can not and must not be defined. George Lucas got a lot of flack for altering the original Star Wars movies but he had all the right to do that. It was his product and those movies most certainly were never art to begin with. In twenty years when they reboot the Lord of the Rings movies, people will hate them. But if they turn out to be good films, people will be okay with it. Because they will always have the books, unchanging art. How long do you think it will take Warner Brothers to reboot Harry Potter? Now that they know the entire story they could make it a TV show, each season one year, tie everything nicely together from the start.
Look, I know you are upset that your favorite movies, games and comics are being remade, rebooted and constantly changed. You are angry that Iceman is gay because you, at one point, identified with that character and you feel as if that identification has been taken away. I understand that, I really do. But you have to realize that those characters, those stories are not art, they are not unchanging or even meaningful. They are meaningful to you but nobody else cares. That is the sad truth. I am not happy about that, trust me I am a comic book writer and if I had my way, comics would be art and retcons would be unheard of. But we are adults or soon to be adults and this is the way these things are.
If you can’t accept that those things change, that those things are not art, you either create your own head canon or just stop caring all together and move on. Life sucks, after all. Get used to it.