One of the biggest comic book companies in North America, DC Comics, has been inclusive of gay characters for a long time, from its kiss between two men back in 1988 – one of the first in American mainstream comics – to reintroducing the first Green Lantern as gay last year.
It may then have come as a shock when they announced on February 6 that Orson Scott Card, a science-fiction author of Ender’s Game and well-known for his anti-LGBT, had been hired to write for the Adventures of Superman series.
Ender’s Game won both the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award; he has written multiple sequels as well as other works, and there is no question of his writing talent.
However, as a devoutly conservative Mormon, and like his church, he is strongly homophobic. In the 1990s, he advocated for laws banning gay sex to remain on the books and enforced by government, and in 2004 put out an essay titled “Homosexual ‘Marriage’ and Civilization,” in which he wrote that “many” LGBT people “first entered into that world” due to being raped or abused.
In one of his most recent works, a 2008 novella called Hamlet’s Father, he portrayed King Hamlet as a pedophile who molested many of the characters as children, and implies that the abuse turned them homosexual.
“It seems surprising that DC would put Card in charge of writing Superman, given his prejudiced views,” Eric Rekow, founder of MythEdge Comics, a webcomics collective in San Francisco, told 429Magazine.
“DC has been at the forefront recently of inclusiveness … as a means of adding diversity to their character base. It would seem to be a step backwards to hire a writer whose well-known views on sexual orientation would be so antithetical to these strides,” he added.
The Superman that comic book fans have known for generations is a cultural icon, an embodiment of American ideals—and of true acceptance, not just tolerance. He was raised by a family that loved him as much as he reciprocated, but he grew up as the only one of his kind, and he felt that loss all his life; those simultaneous experiences helped shape him into the man he became. He could very probably become the dictator of Earth if he so desired, but instead, his love for his adopted planet led him to become a protector of its people—all its people.
Though Superman’s story can be interpreted in many ways, thus appealing to a wide audience, some LGBT fans may feel their own unique connection to him. Kal-El, Clark, Superman: whatever he’s called, the fact remains that though he truly loves the people around him—even though he looks like them, acts like them, is able to blend in with them—he is not like them, and never will be.
Even beyond that, America as a nation believes in freedom almost above all else, and as an embodiment of American values, Superman does as well. In contrast, Card is staunchly against LGBT people having a freedom many others believe is a fundamental human right: to marry. In light of that, given Card’s rigid views, many fans don’t believe he will be able to portray Superman as he should be.