Tag Archives: Storm

Bringing The X-men Into The MCU: What To Do And What To Avoid

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These are exciting times for fans of Marvel and superhero movies. We thought we had reached a high point in 2012 when “The Avengers” came out. Then, we reached an even higher point this year with “Avengers: Infinity War.” Between raising the bar for superhero movies as a whole and generating billions at the box office, it seems impossible that Marvel could ascend any higher.

Well, Marvel Studios treat the impossible the same way the Hulk treats puny gods. They made Ant Man a successful movie franchise. They turned an obscure comic book featuring a talking raccoon into a multi-billion dollar phenomenon. At this point, doing the impossible is just another day at the office for Marvel and their Disney overlords.

In wake of the recent Disney/Fox merger, Kevin Feige and the brain trust at Marvel Studios will have even more tools with which to raise the bar. Even if they’re just running up the score at this point compared to the competition, there’s still plenty of room to grow now that they’ve got the entire mythos of the X-men and the Fantastic Four to work with.

This is already set to happen. Bob Iger himself has already indicated that there are plans to integrate the X-men and Fantastic Four into the MCU. How Marvel Studios will go about this is anyone’s guess and plenty of people have been sharing their guesses. I’ve tried to resist the temptation, but being a lifelong X-men fan and a lover of superhero movies in general, my restraint only goes so far.

However, I don’t want to wildly speculate or push an elaborate fan theory. Again, more than a few people have already done that. Instead, I’d like to do something a bit more generalized. Similar to my other articles on how not to screw up certain movies, I want to provide a guide of sorts.

At the very least, let’s avoid this.

I’m not going to get into specifics. Kevin Feige and a host of other people way smarter than me or anyone else on the internet are perfectly capable of handling those. Being a devout X-men fan, though, I feel like I can offer some basic pointers on what to do and what to avoid in bringing mutants into the MCU.

I think the X-men need that more than the Fantastic Four, at this point. Unlike Marvel’s First Family, the X-men entering the MCU will have far greater implications and not just because the last “Fantastic Four” movie almost killed the franchise. Mutants showing up in the MCU changes everything from what defines a superhero to how the physics of that universe operate.

At the same time, the X-men embody a particular theme, one that was relevant in 1963 when they first appeared, but has become relevant in entirely new ways in the 21st century. The last 18 years of X-men movies have tried to capture those themes, some being more successful than others. For the X-men to work in the MCU, it needs to capture those themes and get the characters right after Hugh Jackman set such a high bar.

Yes, it’s a daunting challenge, but one that Marvel Studios and their Disney overlords are more than equipped to handle. To achieve that success, and all the billions that come with it, here’s what I think they should pursue and what I think they should avoid.


Do: Tie The Events Of “Avengers: Infinity War” To Mutants (But Only Indirectly)

This is already part of the wild speculation surrounding “Avengers: Infinity War.” It would make sense to some degree, having Thanos’ universe-shaking actions lead directly to the creation and introduction of mutants in the MCU. However, I think having a direct link might undercut both the X-men and ultimate resolution of “Avengers 4.”

That’s why it would work better for both franchises if the link was indirect, at most. Part of the appeal of the MCU is that there are connections everywhere, but most of those connections are fairly loose. Sure, Dr. Strange will get a mention in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” but the movie doesn’t center around setting up another franchise.

Ideally, the X-men would follow the same approach. Perhaps Nick Fury mentions some strange genetic anomalies popping up. Perhaps Bruce Banner or Black Widow mentions rumors of other living weapons, which could be a reference for Weapon X. Let those small hints establish that mutants exist, but save the particulars for an actual X-men movie.


Avoid: Having Mutants Appear Without Explaining Their Absence

This is probably the most daunting challenge for Marvel Studios to date, explaining how mutants exist in the MCU and why they’ve been absent thus far. Most people with an internet connection know why the MCU could never mention the X-men. Their movie rights were owned by another studio.

Just because Disney owns Fox now doesn’t mean that mutants can just suddenly appear. It’s not like magic in “Dr. Strange” or the Asgardians in “Thor.” These forces could operate under the radar, independently, and on a small scale. Mutants, by their very nature, cannot act like that.

The most defining theme of mutants, as they exist in Marvel, is that they’re random. They manifest all over the world in every major human population, regardless of geography, culture, language, or ethnicity. That’s not something that can just be ignored while aliens invade New York or killer robots invade Sokovia.

At the very least, an X-men movie in the MCU needs to establish a valid reason for why they’ve been absent. Moreover, it can’t just be the result of experiments or mad science, which was done in Marvel’s now-defunct Ultimate line comics and is way too similar to the Inhumans, whose TV show failed miserably.

Luckily for Marvel and Disney, there’s already an established way to do this and it came from an underrated cartoon called “X-men Evolution.” In that world, mutants are there, but their existence is kept secret by Charles Xavier. The events of “The Avengers” could give them even more reasons for keeping that secret and the whole movie could be built around mutants finally coming out.

Considering how mutants have often been used to symbolize the struggle of minorities, I think that’s both appropriate and compelling.


Do: Make The First Team Of X-men Young And Idealistic

The early X-men movies were a lot of things. Upbeat wasn’t one of them. The original “X-men” trilogy was very serious, full of brooding and tension, even among the younger characters. That worked for the early 2000s when superhero movies needed to get serious after the “Batman and Robin” fiasco. It won’t work in this current era.

The original X-men were teenagers when they first donned their costumes. They weren’t hardened soldiers like Captain America. They were lovably idealistic in pursuing Charles Xavier’s dream, believing they could be the ones that change the world. Unlike most teenagers armed only with a cell phone and no adult baggage, they have the powers to actually achieve it.

The heroes in “The Avengers” already provided plenty of jaded adult perspectives. The X-men can offer the youthful, idealistic perspective that’s so endearing, but so easy to undermine. That’s how the X-men started in the comics and that’s how they’ll thrive in the MCU.


Avoid: Making Wolverine The Center Of Everything

This is a caveat that’s just as relevant today as it was in the early 2000s when the “X-men” movies first came out. Now, I love Wolverine as much as the next X-men fan, but he is not the center of the X-men’s world. As lovable as Hugh Jackman is, the world of X-men cannot and should not be defined by all things Wolverine.

I would even go so far as to keep Wolverine out of the first X-men movie that takes place in the MCU. Establish the team before bringing him into the picture because it’s inevitable that he’ll command a lot of energy. If anything, Wolverine should get his own solo movie before he meets the X-men. Having held down three movies, it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch.

Wolverine is a great character, but he can’t be the main driving force of the X-men again. He already was with the original “X-men” movies and the MCU doesn’t need to follow that path again. Let Wolverine thrive on his own. Let the X-men thrive on their own. If they can complement one another along the way, then everybody wins.


Do: Highlight What Makes Mutants Different From Other Super-powered Beings

This is something that even the comics don’t do particularly well. Within that world, mutants exist alongside all types of heroes, from gamma-powered hulks to inter-dimensional refugees to Superman rip-offs. However, mutants are still hated and feared for being different.

The reasons for that are many, but poorly fleshed out. Unlike the Inhumans or unlucky teenagers who get bit by a spider, mutants are random. They’re born with their powers and they can’t avoid them. Being a mutant is like being a particular race. You can’t change what you are. That’s exactly what makes mutants both different and disconcerting for the public.

We already saw in “Captain America: Civil War” that the governments of the world are quite anxious about controlling super-powered beings. Add mutants to the mix and the potential for conflict is even greater. The foundation is there. The X-men just have to build on it.


Avoid: Making The Hatred And Mistrust Of Mutants Seem Contrived

This plays directly into my last point, but there’s a reason it’s worth highlighting. Like the comics, the MCU already has plenty of super-powered, super-capable beings that governments and average people rightly fear. There are legitimate reasons for that fear. Most people wouldn’t trust Elon Musk with a suit of armor. Why should they trust Tony Stark?

Fear and hatred of mutants is the primary driving force of conflict in the X-men. It’s also the primary motivator for characters like Magneto. That fear and hatred has to be different than the other logistical concerns that played out in “Captain America: Civil War.”

Dealing with mutants can’t just be about holding them accountable through some international treaty. Mutants are a lot more chaotic because they’re random and not every mutant seeks to be a superhero, which is part of why Charles Xavier formed a school in the first place.

The measures in the MCU, as well as the logic behind them, need to be different. At a time when people being detained is a hot-button issue, the X-men have could be extra relevant.


Do: Establish Minor, But Relevant Links To Other MCU Characters

A big part of the appeal in the MCU is how everything seems connected. Captain America has links to Tony Stark’s father, Howard. Spider-Man has a close link to Iron Man, as well. “Thor: Ragnarok” established some ties with Dr. Strange. “Guardians of the Galaxy” created ties with Thanos that later played out in “Avengers: Infinity War.”

These kinds of links help make the MCU the box office powerhouse that it is and those links should continue in X-men. Again, the foundation is there. Carol Danvers, who is set to appear in “Captain Marvel,” already has close ties to the X-men in the comics. Wolverine even had close ties to Captain America during World War II.  Storm also has a documented, but flawed history with Black Panther.

How these links emerge depends heavily on how Marvel Studios decides to bring the X-men into the MCU. If they shake up reality or tweak the timelines, then there will be opportunities to establish these links. If they opt for something less messy, then they can just as easily focus on setting new links for future movies. Either way works, provided it’s done right.


Avoid: Creating Unnecessary Rivalries Or Conflicts

This is something that could very well happen if those connections I mentioned earlier aren’t done particularly well. I know it will be tempting for Marvel Studios to pursue a big “Avengers vs. X-men” event like the one that played out in the comics. Personally, I think that would be a mistake and not just because “Captain America: Civil War” already played that idea out.

Superheroes fighting other superheroes can be compelling, but it’s easy to overdo. It also has a nasty tendency to bring out the worst in all the characters involved. That has happened more than once in the comics, especially recently. Whenever heroes fight each other, nobody really comes off as heroes and that’s not a healthy way to develop quality characters. It just makes them seem petty.

The X-men already have a lengthy list of quality villains beyond Magneto. The original trilogy did a poor job of utilizing them. The MCU has already dealt with a significant villain problems in the past, but has since raised the bar with characters like Thanos and Erik Killmonger. Before the X-men start butting heads with the Avengers, let them clash with the likes of Sinister and Mastermold first.


Do: Let Ryan Reynolds Continue Being Deadpool

Does this really need an explanation? Deadpool is awesome. Ryan Reynolds is lovable, talented, and charismatic. It’s not broke so don’t try to fix it. Just let Deadpool be Deadpool and let the money roll in.

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Filed under Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes, Deadpool, superhero movies, X-men

The following is a review I wrote for PopMatters on “X-men Gold Annual #2.”

“X-men Gold Annual #2” Is A Summer Camp Snoozer

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August 2, 2018 · 9:00 pm

The following is a review I wrote for PopMatters for “Hunt For Wolverine: Mystery In Madripoor #1.” Enjoy!

Friends Matter in ‘Hunt for Wolverine: Mystery In Madripoor #1’

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May 29, 2018 · 10:07 pm

Storm And Black Panther: How NOT To Do A Superhero Romance

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Say what you will about these tumultuous times. One thing is still clear. It’s a damn good time to be a fan of Black Panther. Whether you’re a long-time reader of the comics or Chadwick Boseman enjoying a meteoric rise in fame, these are the best of times for T’Challa, Wakanda, and everything in between.

As of this writing, the “Black Panther” movie has topped $700 million worldwide in just over a week since its release. It’s well-poised to cross the $1 billion mark that only a handful of movies have reached. Things are going very well for Black Panther is what I’m saying.

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I cite all this good news surrounding Black Panther because what I’m about to discuss is not going to show him in the best of light. None of it detracts from the character, nor does it undercut the remarkable achievements that the “Black Panther” movie has accomplished. Given the promising future of Black Panther’s future, though, I think now is probably the best time to bring it up.

Once again, it has to do with superheroes and romance. Long-time readers of this blog probably aren’t surprised by that in the slightest. I talk about superhero romances a lot, citing instances where those romances embody the best elements of a love story and those that are inherently flawed. I’m afraid this is going to be about the latter.

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Black Panther is a great character and has a lot of things going for him, right now. Between a successful movie and a successful ongoing solo series, which you should definitely check out, he has a lot has gone right for him. Unfortunately, that does not extend to his love life.

To those who only know T’Challa through the “Black Panther” movie, I’m not referring to Nakia, who is his primary love interest in that story. I’m referring to a much higher-profile relationship he had with a much higher-profile character in the mid-2000s. That character is Storm, a character I’ve praised before and not just for her love of foreplay.

It’s true. In Black Panther Volume 4, Issue 18, which came out in 2006, Storm and Black Panther got married in what was billed as the highest-profile superhero marriage since the wedding of Cyclops and Jean Grey. It even managed to temporarily stop the ongoing hostilities in Marvel’s now-famous Civil War event.

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On paper, it was billed as the union between two of Marvel’s most prominent black superheroes. It was presented as a union between a weather goddess and a king. It couldn’t have had more going for it without being the central plot of a Disney movie, which isn’t impossible at this point.

There’s just one glaring, omega-level problem with that approach. The relationship between Storm and Black Panther is one of the shallowest, emptiest, and least compelling romances in the history of superhero comics. Yes, it’s even worse than the time Juggernaut had a fling with She-Hulk.

For two character who are so iconic, well-rounded, and endearing, that’s quite a statement. I imagine that more than a few people disagree with it, but there’s a reason behind that statement and it’s not an overly petty one. Between being a die-hard fan of superhero comics and an aspiring erotica/romance writer, the flaws in this relationship stand out more than most for me.

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The most glaring flaw, by far, is just how forced the relationship was in the first place. I won’t say it was quite as bad as the relationship between Jean Grey and Logan was in the X-men movies, but it was pretty damn close. From the beginning, it was less about the chemistry between these two characters and more about the fact that they were two prominent black superheroes.

Never mind having an actual reason to want to be together. Never mind actually tying their respective stories together in a compelling way. The approach was as lazy as it was empty, essentially relying on the iconic status of both characters and nothing more. By that logic, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran should’ve gotten married already.

Even if the approach was lazy, the premise could’ve worked if there was time and effort into developing the Storm/Black Panther romance compelling. Sadly, that’s not the approach Marvel used. They were in such a rush to get these two married that they skipped the part where they told a dramatic love story that brings these characters together in a meaningful way.

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As a romance fan and a comic book fan, that was as satisfying as food poisoning and a hangover. Instead of presenting valid reasons as to why these two characters should be in love, Marvel rewrote Storm and Black Panther’s history to establish that they met each other when they were young and shared a strong connection. That’s all well and good, but there’s one glaring problem.

By rewriting the past, it devalues the emotional depth in the present. Instead of actually building that depth, it’s just suddenly revealed that these two characters had a long-standing history. There’s no need to tell a more elaborate story. It already happened in the past and they’re only acknowledging it now. If I could write that with more sarcasm, I would.

Now, history being rewritten in comics is nothing new. That’s what comic fans refer to as a “retcon” and it’s basically the narrative equivalent of a mulligan. When used correctly, it can help clear up convoluted elements. When used poorly, however, it can be very destructive. Just ask Captain America fans.

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A retcon is the ultimate contrivance and that was the foundation of the Storm/Black Panther relationship. If every good relationship starts with a strong foundation, then the Storm/Black Panther relationship was built on a mix of quicksand and moldy bread.

I get the intent. In order for Storm and Black Panther to get married, they needed to establish that their relationship was somehow worthy of being on the same level as Superman/Lois Lane or Mr. Fantastic/Invisible Woman. Unfortunately, the only way to do that is to rewrite their entire history so that their love was something that had depth. It just happened entirely behind the scenes.

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Contrast that with the love story we saw in the “Black Panther” movie between T’Challa and Nakia. There was nothing contrived about that story. These two characters both had their own narrative. In pursuing that narrative, they came together in a way that felt organic, genuine, and sincere. It was probably the most sincere love story in a superhero movie since the original Deadpool movie.

That shared narrative has huge gaps with Storm/Black Panther and not just because it required a rewriting of their respective history. Even before that retcon, Storm and Black Panther followed very different narratives.

Storm, since her debut in 1975, has been an integral part of the X-men and their story. She was a key player in some of the most defining moments in X-men history. Along the way, she’s had various romantic relationships with the likes of Bishop, Nightcrawler, and Forge. For a time, she had a pretty passionate relationship with Wolverine.

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The fact she had all those relationships while Black Panther had plenty of his own, most notably with former Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau, makes the idea that they shared this powerful bond in their youth seem not so powerful. Even if there were other forces pushing them apart, the fact they followed such distinct narratives really undermines the sincerity of their relationship.

It also makes for some pretty distressing implications. Throughout the X-men’s history, the team has been on the run and on the brink every other week. In some cases, it led to some pretty brutal tragedies. All these things were happening with the X-men and Storm was often on the front lines.

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The fact that she and her friends struggled so much while T’Challa, king of the most advanced nation in the Marvel universe, never did a goddamn thing to help her or her friends just makes the situation even worse. Unlike Wolverine or Forge, he wasn’t there to share in all the struggles. Granted, T’Challa had his own struggles, but neither he nor Storm ever went out of their way to support one another.

Sharing struggles is one of the most important components of a believable, functional romance in both the real world and in superhero comics. Without that, it’s like trying to build furniture without a hammer. You can try, but if you don’t have the right tools, the results are going to be limited at best.

It’s the fact that Storm and Black Panther shared such different struggles that their marriage in the comics ended in a fairly ugly fashion. When the Avengers and X-men clashed in the aptly-named “Avengers vs. X-men” event, Storm and Black Panther were on opposite sides. The conflict was so bad that it left Wakanda in ruin and by the end, their marriage was annulled.

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It was an inglorious ending to a romance that Marvel tried hard to make iconic. Unfortunately, they went about it in all the wrong ways for all the wrong reasons. There’s no question that Storm and Black Panther are among Marvel’s highest-profile black heroes, even more so now with the success of the “Black Panther” movie. That’s still not the sole reason why they should be romantically involved.

The relationship was so forced and so flawed that even the X-men’s most iconic writer, Chris Claremont, says the whole thing was a big mistake. Storm and Black Panther may have potential, but by forcing it and rushing it to such an egregious extent, it’s hard to take that romance seriously.

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If nothing else, the Storm/Black Panther relationship should provide a cautionary tale for superhero romances and real romances alike. Most importantly, it reinforces the notion that genuine romance can’t be forced. Strong couples share in their respective struggles, supporting one another and guiding one another.

Storm and Black Panther did none of that. Marvel’s approach to forging their relationship only gave them more reasons not to be together. Both characters have a bright future in their own respect, but that future cannot and should not be forced or contrived.

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Filed under Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes, Marriage and Relationships, X-men

Why Women (And Men) Need More Sex-Positive Role Models

There was a time when we just didn’t talk about the sex lives of role models and superheroes. To talk about what Superman, Wonder Woman, or Captain America did in private with lingerie, bottle of lube, and a willing partner wasn’t just obscene. It was akin to hearing your parents talk about the night we were conceived, right down to the color of the nipple clamps our moms used.

While we still shudder at the thought of our parents describing their sex lives to us, we’re a bit more comfortable with our heroes and role models filling us in on their intimate lives. In some respects, we’ve come a long way. We’ve gone from joking about how Superman can have a baby with a human woman to big (not so) shocking reveal earlier this year that Wonder Woman is bisexual.

The topic of superhero sex lives has always been somewhat taboo, except for perverse fan fiction, some of which I actually write. There’s an even greater taboo about the sex lives of our real-life role models and that can be very damaging, especially if the private sex lives of those role models become scandalous. Just ask Tiger Woods.

As an aspiring erotica/romance writer, who often navigates taboos and favors more sex-positive superheroes like Starfire, I feel like we’re vampires working in a blood bank. We’re putting ourselves in stressful, self-destructive circumstances that will only lead to disappointment and heartache with respect to our role models.

I get it. We want our role models to embody ideals. We hold them to a higher standard. We want Superman to not be concerned with whether his wife can bear his child. We want Tiger Woods to be a faithful, upstanding pillar of virtue. The problem with having such high standards isn’t that it puts undue pressure on the role models. The problem is that it makes it way too easy for us to hate ourselves for being human.

The problem with ideals is in the very definition. According to Dictionary.com, the core meaning of the word is:

  • A conception of something in its perfection

  • A standard of perfection or excellence

  • Something that exists only in the imagination

We expect our role models to embody these ideals, whether they’re real or fictional characters. The fact that we can’t even get our fictional characters to live up to those ideals, as evidenced by Superman’s role in a porno tape with Big Barda, is pretty damn telling. So why should anyone expect Tiger Woods to live up to that ideal?

What we need now isn’t an ideal for a role model. We don’t even need a flawed role model either. We already have plenty of that with Batman, Wolverine, and Mick Jagger, who just had his eight kid at 73. What we need, in my humble opinion, is a true sex positive role model.

By “sex positive,” I don’t mean a role model who isn’t afraid to talk about their sex lives. We already have plenty of celebrities and superheroes who do that. We have Cortney Love, Tony Stark, and pretty much every hair metal band from the 1980s. By sex positive, I mean someone who both embraces sexuality and subverts the stigma.

It’s that last part that’s the challenge here. It’s one thing for a hero or an icon to have sex and be casual about it. It’s quite another to do it in a way that undermines the stigma that still surrounds sex.

Make no mistake. That stigma is still there. We expect rich and successful men to have a lot of sex with a lot of random women, but when a woman does it, we think there’s something wrong with her. There’s still this frustrating taboo surrounding female sexuality and it’s ruining our sex lives, among other things.

It goes beyond the rich and powerful too. Even among youth and adults, there’s still this strange disconnect with our sexuality. It’s legal for two consenting adults to have sex for whatever reason they want, but we still shame and stigmatize it. We still have this arbitrary standard that if you have too much sex, then something’s wrong with you.

How much is too much? Well, that’s the tricky part. Nobody knows. One person’s slut is another person’s free spirit. One person’s stud is another person’s beta male. We just don’t know because we don’t talk about it. We don’t discuss it. We can’t even agree on what constitutes consent in sex anymore.

Enter a sex-positive role model. Enter someone who will approach sexuality the same way most people approach a hot cup of cocoa on a cold winter day. They don’t just embrace the crude elements of it. They embrace the beauty as well. They shatter the awkwardness. They spit on the taboos. They don’t need to flaunt their sexuality. To them, it’s just normal.

Sadly, there aren’t a lot of role models like that right now. In fact, I could only come up with two: Starfire and Deadpool. I’ve already made it abundantly clear why Starfire is the perfect sex-positive superhero. The fact she looks like this only helps.

With Deadpool, it’s a little trickier. He’s not much of a hero. He even says as such in his hit movie. However, while he’s crude in pretty much everything he does, he’s not crude when it comes to sex. It’s not this dirty, forbidden act. It’s just this basic thing that people do.

Sometimes it’s for love. Sometimes it’s for fun. Sometimes it’s how you celebrate the holidays with your lover. In that sense, Deadpool perfectly captures that spirit.

As much as I love Starfire and Deadpool, I don’t think they’re nearly enough. I think we need more sex positive role models and heroes. Some, like Amber Rose, are making an effort. I think we’ll need to make an even greater effort because all taboos and stigmas, be they sexual or not, don’t fade easily.

We human beings are anxious and uptight about things that make us uncomfortable. Our culture, going all the way back to the Puritans, the Vatican, and the Mullahs, has done too good a job at making us uncomfortable about sex. We’ve made progress over the centuries in breaking that discomfort. More sex-positive role models and heroes can only help.

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Filed under Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes, Jack Fisher's Insights

Storm Of The X-men: A Better Role Model For Women And Girls

I used to think some issues were completely apolitical. Seriously, who could create a political firestorm out of puppies, cat videos, and chocolate? I still want to believe that there are some things beyond our collective ability to taint, but when there are coherent men claiming that Satan uses Pokemon Go to corrupt people, I can’t help but question that belief.

I also used to think that Wonder Woman’s place as a cultural icon and a role model for women was beyond dispute. Sure, she has some kinky subtext in her origins, but she’s still a powerful character in modern pop culture. She’s a strong, passionate woman who protects the innocent and fights injustice with the heart of a warrior. How could her status as a role model possibly be disputed?

Well, the humorless asshats who petition the United Nations and weak little shits who take them seriously decided Wonder Woman is just too much woman for them to handle. Apparently, being a badass warrior who fights injustice and protects the innocent isn’t enough because she’s too damn sexy. Seriously, that’s the UN’s reason for ditching her as an ambassador to women and girls.

It still makes me want to spit fire and shit bricks. So a woman can do everything and anything to make the world a better place, but she can’t look like someone that some people want to see naked? What the fuck does that have to do with being a role model?

I could spend the next five blog posts ranting angrily about this issue, but I like to be more productive with my anger. I understand that there’s only so much, in other words nothing, that posting angry words on the internet can accomplish. With that in mind, I’m going to take a deep breath, drink a glass of whiskey, and try a different approach.

Since the folks at the UN and the humorless asshats who petition them are so keen on making this an issue, I’d like to do a public service and propose a solution. I’m not going to convince humorless asshats that Wonder Woman isn’t too sexy. I understand that these are people who tremble in fear at the thought of women being too naked and men being too fond of naked women. I can’t hope to change that.

With that in mind, I’d like to nominate another iconic woman for the role of UN Ambassador to women and girls. I believe there is another cultural icon who can be a symbol to women and girls all over the world. She’s also a badass superhero who protects the innocent, fights injustice, and looks damn good while doing it.

Ladies, gentlemen, and those of unspecified gender, I hereby nominate Storm of the X-men for the ambassadorship for women and girls all over the world.

Before the same humorless asshats who rejected Wonder Woman start whining, give me a chance to make my case. Then, go ahead and find a reason to reject this amazing testament to female badassery. I dare you.

While it’s true that Storm hasn’t been around as long as Wonder Woman, having made her debut in 1975’s Giant-Sized X-men #1, her impact on the world of comic books and on pop culture is beyond dispute.

Storm is one of those characters who just arrived at the best possible time. She’s a minority within a minority, a African woman playing the part of a superhero at a time when most of them still looked like extras from a “Leave It To Beaver” rerun.

She helped usher in a new wave of diversity in both comics and popular culture. She came at a time when people started to realize that not every superhero had to be like Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman. It was also a time when people started realizing that minorities can have a place in popular culture. Some people are still shocked by this for some reason.

This made Storm’s ascension to being one of the greatest female superheroes of all time all the more impressive. It’s not just that she was a woman of color playing the part of a superhero. She was never just there to fill a quota. She actually contributed to the growth and success of the X-men.

Look at her resume and you’ll find a woman who made her presence felt and not just because she can direct a lightning bolt up your ass. She’s been a leader, a teacher, a friend, a lover, and a champion for peace. Even recently, she’s led the X-men in a peaceful struggle, despite her people being routinely gassed to death.

She didn’t start with many advantages either. She wasn’t a princess like Wonder Woman. In fact, she started at the opposite end of the spectrum, having been a thief and pick-pocket early in life. She had to fight to survive, eventually seeking new opportunities with the X-men and escaping a life of crime. In a world where millions of children live in poverty, that makes Storm much more relatable and relevant.

In addition, Storm isn’t the kind of female hero who becomes a damsel in distress every other week. In fact, she’s been one of the X-men’s heaviest hitters, as opposed to characters like Kitty Pryde and Jean Grey, who seem to faint or need rescuing every other issue.

Storm has also lead the X-men, having fought Cyclops for this role in Uncanny X-men #201. In case you’ve forgotten, Cyclops is a white guy. That should make ultra-liberal hipsters at least somewhat happy.

She’s also not like Lois Lane or the Invisible Woman, whose character is often defined by the relationships she has. Storm has always been her own person and done her own thing. That doesn’t stop her from pursuing romance for all the right reasons.

She’s pursued relationships with the likes of Forge, Black Panther, and Wolverine. She was even married to Black Panther for a while. Granted, that marriage got annulled because Storm dared to not side with her husband during a major clash between the Avengers and X-men, but that should only strengthen her case, especially in the eyes of more radical feminist types.

She’s not overly traditional in her views of love and relationships. She doesn’t believe in a woman becomes a man’s glorified pet when she decides to marry him. She can still have thoughts of her own. There are still men in the Middle east and this country that are appalled by such an idea.

She also believes strongly in loyalty and understanding, which any woman would need if they dared to date someone like Wolverine. She doesn’t always have to be in a relationship, but when she is, she puts in the effort. She does her part. Just don’t you dare have the audacity to skip foreplay.

In terms of looks, which the UN just couldn’t overlook with Wonder Woman, Storm definitely has her own unique style. It’s not overtly sexual. Her costumes rarely emphasize her breasts, butt, or any other body part that might make a man’s pants too tight. If anything, her most defining physical feature is her white hair, which she’s not afraid to style in all sorts of exotic ways.

Storm is beautiful. She knows how to be sexy too. However, sexuality is not a big part of her deal. She’s not like Starfire in that she channels her sexuality in unique ways. She is sexual, but in a very healthy way. She can count all her lovers on one hand. How many politicians can make that claim these days?

I could go on and on. I could spend multiple blog posts arguing why Storm is the perfect role model for women and girls. I’m sure there are still some humorless asshats out there who will nitpick her to death in hopes of finding an excuse to complain about her.

They’ll probably throw around terms like “cultural appropriation” or “colonialism” to discount Storm’s qualifications. Maybe she’s too exotic. Maybe she’s too obscure because she’s part of a team. Maybe having an Oscar-winning actress like Halle Berry play her in multiple movies is somehow a problem.

Whatever the case and whatever the excuse, Storm’s legacy speaks for itself. Storm’s place in popular culture, superhero comics, and being uniquely sexy is secure. If that’s not enough for the UN and the asshats who petition them, then that’s their problem.

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Important Life Lesson From An X-men Comic: Don’t Skip Foreplay

Growing up, we all learn valuable life lessons from various sources. For some people, they get many of their lessons from reruns of “Leave It To Beaver.” Others get it from new episodes of “Modern Family.” Others still will cite the works of the Bible, J. R. R. Tolkien, William Shakespeare, or Weird Al Yankovick. Not all convey the same lessons. Not all of those lessons are healthy either. The point is we derive them from our own sources.

For me, I’ve derived most of my lessons from superhero comics. I think I’ve already made that clear on this blog. I’ve used superhero comics to cite sex-positive heroes like Starfire and to demonstrate the worst possible example of a love triangle gone wrong. Today, I’d like to cite superhero comics again to convey another valuable lesson that I think every man and woman can appreciate.

What is that lesson, you ask? How valuable can it possibly be? Well, during times like this when our culture is driving us farther and farther apart, this lesson cannot be more vital. So to all the men and women out there, young and old, gay or straight, please heed this lesson. It comes courtesy of the X-men once more and from Ororo Munro, aka Storm, so you know it’s not something you should ignore.

stormforeplay

This scene comes courtesy of Amazing X-men #1, a comic released back in late 2013. The woman with the red hair is Firestar. She’s a new teacher for the X-men. The short guy with the manliest mutton chops in the universe is Wolverine, a man whose romantic history alone is more epic than any other hero. The woman next to him, who makes pretty damn clear that foreplay is not to be skipped, is Storm.

That’s right. The same woman who controls weather, unleashes hurricanes, and further enhances Halle Berry’s sex appeal has a very important policy with respect to foreplay. It’s a policy we should all adopt. Hell, let’s make it a brand new commandment. Let’s all agree that whatever gods or goddesses we worship have delivered upon us a new revelation that shall henceforth be among mankind’s highest morals.

Thoust Shalt NOT Skip Foreplay

The human race can’t agree on much. I think we can make an exception here. In the X-men comics, Storm was once worshiped as a goddess. It’s not just because she can end droughts, kick-start tornado, and shock your ass with lightning if you get on her bad side. She also looks like this, in case you’ve forgotten.

Would any sane heterosexual man or homosexual woman dare deny this woman foreplay? Unless you’re itching for a lightning bolt to the spine, I think not. She is not one to do anything callously or half-hearted. If she’s going to let anyone into her panties, they damn well better put some effort into it. That means foreplay is right up there with air in terms of importance.

It’s a damn good policy from a damn good character. There’s a damn good reason why Storm is played by the likes of Halle Berry and why she’s widely seen as one of the greatest female superheroes of all time. She commands respect. She exudes charisma. The fact she’s also sexy as hell is a nice bonus too. So when she says foreplay is that important, it’s a lesson we ought to heed.

It doesn’t just apply to one gender as well. Ladies, I’m going to let you in on a little secret about men that really shouldn’t be a secret in the first place. Here it is:

Men really enjoy foreplay.

I know. Shocking, isn’t it? Well, it shouldn’t be. I don’t know why it became popular that men don’t appreciate foreplay. It’s a bad joke, the idea that men just want to bend a woman over a dirty table and get right to the humping. I’m sure there are men who do that. I’m sure there are women who do that too. It’s not the template on which most men build a satisfying intimate encounter.

As a man, I can say without reservation that I love foreplay. Hell, what’s not to love? The kissing, the touching, the sentiment all work in conjunction to build a satisfying experience. I love it even more when the woman puts just as much effort into it. I can’t speak for all men, but I think I speak for plenty when I say we like to share in the work.

As a point of reference for the ladies, allow me to paint a clearer picture. Look back at that snapshot of Amazing X-men #1. Then, remember for a moment that Hugh Jackman played Wolverine in the X-men movies and he looked like this while doing it.

Ask yourself honestly, ladies. Would you skip the foreplay with a man like that? I’m not gay, but even I’d want to get a feel for those manly ass muscles.

Now please don’t make light of the message I’m sending here. Some may read this post and think of it as just some naughty satire from an aspiring erotica writer. It’s not. I really do believe that this is a vital lesson for men and women alike. Foreplay matters. Intimacy matters. Don’t skip it.

We live in an increasingly detached world. We also live in a world where one too many gestures can be classified as harassment. It’s making us reluctant to embrace each other. As someone who is a hugger by nature, this worries me. Even WebMD agrees with me and Storm that foreplay is vital.

Human beings are social creatures by nature. We seek intimate contact with one another and not just for sex. So whether you’re gay, straight, man, woman, trans, or something in between, please heed the lessons of Storm and the X-men. Do not skip the foreplay. Enjoy the intimate company of your partners. It’s good for your body and your soul.

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