As mentioned yesterday, when it comes to queer ships, white men and straight men tend to be among the top, and that was shown once again with SyFy Wire reporting that Tumblr has gone crazy over “Symbrock,” which is Eddie Brock and the symbiotic alien bonded to his body, Venom.
Despite being able to be critical about the pedestal these white male ships get, I still can’t deny that I’m totally into “Symbrock,” and I hope to one day incorporate “I got us” into my wedding vows. But most importantly, it reminded me of the way we can sometimes give men ownership of characters. Let me explain.
A running joke among many female nerd friends is that there are five characters that should put you on high alert when a comic book dude professes his love for them: Deadpool, Wolverine, Batman, Punisher, and Venom. Most of the time, this is because there’s a vocal population of male fans of those characters who hype up their hyper-masculine, self-destructive aspects, and as a result, sometimes that can usurp the way we view those characters. When you live in an echo chamber where everyone is saying the same wrong thing about a character, you internalize it and assume you know everything.
I’m guilty of this myself, in many ways. The most egregious example from my past was the way I treated my baby Kal-El/Superman. I heard that he was overpowered and a boy scout, and I believed that until I saw the light, also known as Superman: The Animated Series—and then went out and started reading Superman comics like Alan Moore’s “For the Man Who Has Everything.”
When it comes to Wolverine, Batman, Punisher, Venom, and Deadpool, it really is an issue of the character being (a) overexposed and (b) most mainstream media focusing on the most accessible aspects of the character. Bruce Wayne’s best line in Batman v Superman is when he says that he’s older than his parents will ever be, and what makes Lego Batman so good is that it realizes how deeply the character of Bruce Wayne longs for a family, and the way he has shut himself off from others.
Characters like Logan, Bruce, and Frank are filled with immense emotional trauma and pathos that, when tapped into, can really highlight why these characters have existed for so long and didn’t just go the way of other edgelords created in the ’80s and ’90s. Deadpool being a queer man is something so key to his character, but has yet to be highlighted in the films beyond a joke.
Venom and Eddie being totally in love may have been what people got after seeing the movie, but the trailer focused on the “traditionally” appealing things about the character. It’s both a brilliant subversion of expectations, and also a reminder that these characters do not exist for just straight, cis male consumption.
Hell, even Eddie Brock is out here being a social justice warrior highlighting the epidemic issues of homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area with the Eddie Brock Report, so even your anti-heroes are out for social justice. Well, maybe not so much Punisher, but that’s honestly why he’s a great foil to characters like Daredevil and Spider-Man: Their differing mentalities serve to ask moral questions and bring each other into sharper focus. As long as you remember that, for instance, the character of Rorschach, in Watchmen, is not meant to be a heroic character—well, unless you love Ayn Rand.
So as we celebrate Venom being queer as fuck and fandom turning Symbrock into great fan art, let’s also celebrate reclaiming characters from the grossness of certain fans.
(via Nerdist, image: Sony)
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