From Comic Alliance scribe Andrew Wheeler comes an interesting opinion piece about beefcake in comic books—or, more precisely, the lack of it. Given how well scantily clad mutants, gods and aliens have done on screen—X-Men: First Class, Thor, Green Lantern et al—you’d think it’d translate to bare abs, bulbous buns and exaggerated packages on the drawn page.
But it ain’t so.
Straight boys never have to hunt for that sort of fan service. The whole industry caters to their libidos. Gay boys and straight girls do not enjoy the same level of pandering. Sure, the men in these comics are usually buff and handsome, and they’re all dressed in skin-tight clothes and they all have six-pack abs. If you enjoy looking at athletic, attractive men, you will find athletic, attractive men in these books… but it’s not equivalent. Superhero men are idealized, yes, but they’re rarely sexualized. While women are presented as broken-backed boob hostesses whose every move is a bend-and-snap designed to flatter and entice the presumed-male, presumed-straight reader, the men are sexless paragons of strength, with propaganda poster good looks that serve as visual shorthand for their masculine, heroic bona fides…
Male superheroes are not written sexy, they’re rarely drawn sexy, and they do not dress sexy. While maybe half of all female characters belong on a skin-baring scale from Star Sapphire to Wonder Woman, most male characters fit on a scale from Superman to Spider-Man. Batman has about as much skin showing on his chin as Power Girl shows on her boobs.
As longtime comic-book nerds we have to agree. Wonder Woman wears a bathing suit and high-heel boots to go into battle, but we can’t even think of a male superhero with bare arms. Spider-Man is covered literally from head to toe.
Seriously—how does he even breathe?
It’s too easy to say comics are created by straight guys for straight guys. Entire communities of gays comics fans have popped up nationwide (like NYC’s Geeks Out) and surveys show that at least a quarter of comic-book readers are female.
Obviously film and television studios have no trouble showing us hot, sexualized superheroes. (You did catch any episode of Smallville, right?) We just want our fair share in the funny papers.
Images: David Finch, Joe Phillips, Marvel Comics, Warner Bros.