Queer superheroes

Did All the Gay Talk Hurt X-Men’s Box Office?

X Men First Class

The theory that X-Men is really just a latex-clad metaphor about the gay rights movement has been talked up so much that it’s now become consensus. This idea has probably been cooking since the comic strip launched in the 60s, but it really gained traction when openly gay director Bryan Singer called “Action” on the first two installments in the recent movie franchise.

The new film, X-Men: First Class, makes several nods to its gay status: there’s a “don’t ask, don’t tell” reference and a new spin on an old post-liberation slogan in “Mutant and Proud.”

The danger of this theory is that it feeds the whole “them and us” attitude, a belief that being L,G,B or T is so different from the “norm.” And it treats sexuality as black and white, rather than as a kind of sliding scale. Not to mention the whole Nietzschean superiority thing.

No, we’re not letting Hollywood off the hook until there’s a proper queer superhero on our screens, which is something X-Men creator Stan Lee was actually developing with gay writer/producer Perry Moore before his death earlier this year.

It’ll be interesting to see if Fox now starts distancing its big movie franchise from gay comparisons after a disappointing opening weekend for First Class.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #bryansinger #firstclass #gaysuperheroes stories and more


  • Viral

    Mutants= Gays didn’t start in the 60s, back then it was mutants=blacks/other minorities. Only after the civil rights movements did X-men go ‘gay’.

    The gay metaphor of the X-men had nothing to do w/ the lackluster ticket sales; the movie has plenty of other reasons for flopping. The parallels were made more blatant in the movie because that’s what big right now (Gay civil rights struggle) and they thought it’d be easier to cash it. But when so much is different and contradicting from the original comics and even other canon movies (there are too many to name and I’d really be on a geek-rant if I were to start) that people just didn’t give a damn.

  • VinciSmetana

    Considering how crappy the very recent X3 and X4 were, were audiences really going to flock back to X5 because it WASN’T crappy? It could have been the best installment in the series and it would have made little difference in its opening weekend.

    Audiences flocked to Hangover II, because of Hangover I. Hangover II was a steaming pile of caca. Do you really think Hangover III is going to set even higher records? I doubt it.

    It’s partly about audience trust. Run a franchise to the ground, it’s not going to rise like a phoenix from the ashes all of a sudden.

    Adjusted AFTER inflation, the only Batman movie that Chris Nolan’s first Batman movie outgrossed was the steaming pile of caca that was Batman & Robin, yet was infinite-times better (as a whole) than Batman Returns or Batman Forever. Even after an eight year hiatus, Nolan had to first win audiences back to the franchise before they were going to show up in droves. Batman Begins laid the groundwork (in more ways than one) for The Dark Knight’s success.

  • DillonS

    X-Men didn’t underperform because of of any gay talk or anti-gay sentiment. That’s the ind of leap deserving of the old Queerty staff. X-men is not the new kid on the movie block anymore. People are more interested in spending their hard earned money on checking out how new franchises work their magic from Thor to the upcoming Green Lantern. Which is a shame because the X-men (old and new) always kicked butt.

  • Caliban

    So now bad ticket sales are our fault too?! Damn! As powerful and intimidating as we apparently are, capable of causing earthquakes, tornadoes, and bad-hair days (OK, a few gays *may* be behind those), how come we’re not capable of achieving full equality?

    There are WAY more obvious reasons why this movie didn’t perform as well as expected. How about people are friggin’ sick of superhero movies? And the advertising for Green Lantern, which looks really dreadful, serves as a reminder that no matter how good a superhero movie is they’re all just variations on a theme. Or how about that this is a reboot of a series which finished with a really bad third movie? You can only polish a turd so many times, and even though X-Men: First Class looks like it might be a particularly high-gloss example, the average house-cat probably wouldn’t hesitate to kick sand over it.

  • Atlas

    Vinci nailed it, and to a lesser extent, Caliban as well. It doesn’t have anything to do with us gays, it has to do with the state of the franchise, and the state of superhero movies in general.

    The biggest problem is that with X3 being disappointing, and X4 (Wolverine) being flat out horrible (I’ll never forgive them for flubbing Gambit like they did), X5 already had a lot of jilted former fans on it’s hands, and it’s job will be to win them back. The average person doesn’t give a shit about movie ratings, actually the average person thinks of critics as pompous know-it-alls, and will sometimes even see the movies they rank lowest just to be contrary. X5 could, and possibly is the best of the franchise, but it won’t be a crazy success because of it’s subpar predecessors. However, once X5 finishes it’s theatrical run, gets out on DVD, and the word of mouth on how good it is really permeates, expect X6 to be a record breaker, just like Batman Begins / Dark Knight.

    The inflation of superhero movies is a big deterrent. We’ve already had Thor this summer, Green Lantern and Captain America are soon to arrive, and there’s already talk about the Dark Knight sequel, The Adventures movie, Iron Man 3, and the Spiderman reboot. We’ve been drowning in superhero movies for the past decade, and because most of them are actually pretty good, one has to be spectacular like the Dark Knight to really get a lot of momentum going.

    I think X-Men will survive to see another day though. They started the superhero movie mania, ad more importantly they give you the team aspect that’s lacking in other superhero movies. X-Men is a unique and high quality contender in a popular if over inflated genre. I don’t think they’re in any trouble, and I look forward to the the First Class sequel.

  • davidyu

    How is it that no one mentioned Magneto is hot?

  • J

    Uh, Stan Lee is NOT dead…

  • Viral

    @J: Think they meant Perry Moore is dead…

  • Shamdrew

    @davidyu: Yes, more shirtless photos of the actor who plays Magneto. He’s a gay man in the future if Dame Ian McKellan plays him, right?

  • Right Wingers Are Socioptahs (John From England)

    Huh? Do you REALLY think anyone got any gay stuff?

    Of course not.

    Just cynical page views at Queerty.

    Are you sure Hausalib isn’t still reigning?

  • Matthew

    I don’t think it had anything to do with it. I am a huge Marvel fan and I was really dissapointed in the movie. Not a lot of action, some mediocre acting and some okay effects. It just wasn’t the action movie a lot of people thought it was going to be.

    I did note the DADT references but always thought they existed in the other three movies as well.

  • Penguins

    Where the hell did you hear that Stan Lee is dead? He’s not…

  • Brent

    “…Stan Lee was actually developing with gay writer/producer Perry Moore before his death earlier this year.”

    Please be more careful with your pronouns. For a moment I thought Stan Lee had died.

  • Eminent Victorian

    The movie is very well done on a number of fronts. The only thing that annoyed me was that the first X-man to be killed was the black dude. Making that sort of writing decision is among the most tired Hollywood cliches of, like, ever.

  • ziggypop

    I thought the movie was doing well financially, no?

  • So Yo

    Vinci’s got it. I personally didn’t even plan on seeing it at all because of how bad X3 and Wolverine were. Even after that, the initial photos and trailers were just disappointing (and don’t even get me started on January Jones). I think those were the main deterrent for a lot of people. But after seeing how many of my friends loved it, I checked it out and was very very impressed.

  • Josh Elder

    I loved this movie and I agree it creates a mentality of “Them vs. Us”. To be honest, it completely sums up my feelings about heterosexual and society in general. It is “Them vs. Us”.

    You either support us or you’re against us. There is no inbetween. I’m so sick of heterosexuals being all “I love you and support you” but when it comes to actually DOING anything to show said support and love or actually do something to make a difference (and not just spew word vomit that everyone wants to hear) they are nowhere to be found. (All speaking from my own personal experience, not labeling all heterosexuals across the globe)

    I honestly believe it’s time we stop sitting back with our thumbs up our asses, being all cordial and polite hoping to maybe one day things will just eventually change with time. No, it’s time we take a stand, scream in the streets and stop letting people walk all over us. Make us a political wedge issue or tell us we’re not good enough. I’m so sick of just sitting back and waiting for something to change.

    When the black community was faced with problems, they all rallied together and took a stand. You couldn’t get the LGBT community to rally together unless you had alcohol, naked men or something to do with sex. It’s pathetic and disappointing. I can’t tell you how many within the LGBT community that I’ve met have just said “I don’t care about politics”. You may not and it certainly doesn’t care about you. Most of the LGBT community just doesn’t give a damn and doesn’t think it’s a big deal to be treated differently because honestly, most of them haven’t been treated differently aside from being called a few names.

  • jimby

    How the fuck it L G B T NOT different from the norm? Wake up homo. Or come out of your ivory gay tower and join the ranks of the real world.

  • James Davis

    Except the opening wasn’t a disappointment to the studio. It made about as much as the studio had expected (since they knew there was less interest after the god awful X3 and Wolverine origin films). I wouldn’t be surprised if the strong word of mouth and only Super 8 that First class has great legs this weekend.

  • Adam

    Jesus, what a stupid site. I mean, really??? This is the hot topic, someone thinks gays ruined XMEN?

  • Brent

    @jimby: Settle down, Magneto…

  • kalifani6

    They fucked up the story.

    I was an avid X-men comic freak when I was a kid…there was no need to change the effin story. There were already gay characters introduced to the storylines…in fact a spinoff of the X-men included the 1st openly gay character in the whole history of comics–Northstar[outside of adult fanfare of course]—so how dare ‘they who’s ego’s know no bounds’ imply that it was homophobia that made the movie a flop after the 1st weekend. Any real X-men fan knew this was going to happen.

    Ironically, because these two overprivileged fucks made such an irresponsible implication, it’s gonna cause a backlash that will set us back due to the suggestion of box-office poison!

    It’s failing because the way it was changed is offensive to loyal X-men followers—–
    that have waited for a very long time to see this book adapted to the silver screen with INTEGRITY.

    So Buffy’s Daddy & Rich Boy Worthingstein can take a flying leap.

    It’s not the gay thing.

    It’s the ‘changing the friggin’ story so that it bears only the faintest resemblance to what was & still is genius level storytelling’ thing!.

    Take your cue from the rest of the super-hero flicks.The most successful are the ones that stick to the original script—the actual books!

    The only thing they got right is setting the origin of the story in the 60’s.

    This franchise calls for a revamp—Dark Knight style

    …where the actual gay characters can be as gay as they wanna be.

    In every respect here is what most folks think about literature adapted to the screen[big & small]:


    That’s not an anti-gay thing. It’s a universal thing.

    You wanna change the story


  • Cary Hartline

    I wish being gay gave me super powers.

  • maul

    I hate this kind of ‘ This thing didn’t do well cause people aren’t ready for gay ‘ crap. The metaphor has always been minority not gay minority (although X-men is starting to lean gay metaphor, which annoys me only because it being more general minority is better writing, for example at times it doesn’t seem like they are talking about being a mutant anymore, its like they are trying to fit everything into the gay context ).

    Anyway, I’m trailing off here. First Class was the least grossing X-men because A: It had zero star power (no Hugh Jackman – besides cameo) B: The last two X-men sucked HARD!. Fact is this was the best one, coming from someone who is annoyed by the over obvious-ness of the gay metaphor. It failed because the studio failed to convince people it would be good.

  • Guy

    @kalifani6: They fucked up the story? The old comics are so very, very cheesy. Even now the comics keep falling back on magic/fantasy and I’m glad the movie makers didn’t go down that path. Would you prefer Azazel was actually a demon from another dimension? The comics would not translate well as a movie that isn’t a cartoon aimed at pre-teens. Phoenix as an alien entity that took the form of Jean as she slept in a cocoon under the ocean. Cyclops losing his dad to space pirates the Shiar. Just two examples of the corny, childish writing that filled the pages the books for so long. Please just accept that to make this idea seem more realistic, plausible or even bearable some stuff had to change.

Comments are closed.