When comics fans discovered that long-time X-Men Iceman was revealed as gay in this week's All-New X-Men #40 (at least the younger, time-displaced Iceman), it seems everyone had an opinion - including long-time X-Men director Bryan Singer.
In a Wednesday Entertainment Weekly interview, Singer, who directed the original X-Men movie in 2000 as well as two sequels and self-identifies as bisexual, re-visits story choices he made for the character in the X-Men films and actor Shawn Ashmore as Iceman/Bobby Drake.
"I’m glad, I’m sure it’s very good for him. Well, I think it is interesting that in the early movies he develops a relationship with a girl who he is physically unable to touch," Singer said, referring to Rogue, played by Anna Paquin, "There’s something subtextual in that. I’m not sure if I necessarily intended it at the time, but there is something ironic about it in the first and second film."
When asked if Singer's X-Men films help forward the long-suspected notion that Iceman might be gay, Singer says its ironic but is quick to distinguish the X-Men movies from the X-Men comics.
"The important thing to remember with comic books is that you’re always dealing with universes. In one incarnation a character can fly and in another they could be evil and in another they could be gay or straight," says Singer. "But in this incarnation, I’m enjoying the irony of it all and how it relates to my films, particularly with a girl he wants to be intimate with but can’t. I’m excited and quite amused that that idea has been able to play out."
When asked if he'll be exploring this or related themes in the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse movie, Singer says no but "would hope that at some point a character could emerge as gay or transgender."
Singer goes on to relate a conversation he had with X-Men co-creator Stan Lee, in which he broached the subject of the X-Men being written in the 1960s as possible allegories to homosexuals.
"I spoke with Stan Lee about it years ago once, over lunch. I said to him, 'Did the gay allegory ever enter the minds of you guys?' I didn’t want to speak out of turn, if that’s not something he’s publicly spoken to. But he said, 'Absolutely.' He might have said that out of politeness towards me, but I believed him. And he’s a pretty open guy. I never felt like I had to tiptoe around him in terms of what I asked or what I said."
Although Stan Lee co-created the Iceman character, it was writer Brian Michael Bendis who made the decision and wrote the story itself in All-New X-Men #40. Bendis tells CBR he'll be following up on this new facet to Iceman in the upcoming Uncanny X-Men #600, both for the younger Iceman revealed as gay and the modern-day adult Iceman who, to date, has not.
When asked the impetus for this new development for Iceman, he pointed to the future.
"I thought it opened a great deal of possibility for the characters. I'm kind of leaving everybody in a different place than people thought we were going to leave them, including Angel and all the others," says Bendis.
Bendis points to several moments in past X-Men issues that could be read as hinting to Iceman being "in the closet," something which the writer thought was "obvious."
"So here's the headline: This isn't the final statement on Bobby's very unique story. And it is not a universal statement on sexual identity, it's Bobby's unique one," says Bendis. "The other portions have already been written and are being produced as we speak. Before I leave the X-Men on Uncanny X-Men #600, more layers will be peeled off of this, including what this means for older Bobby. I think we address all the big questions."