Home Publishers Marvel Tom Brevoort on why Northstar's wedding will not have to be nullified

Tom Brevoort on why Northstar's wedding will not have to be nullified


People have been asking why, when Peter and MJ’s marriage had to end for story reasons, Northstar getting married is okay. Editor Tom Brevoort answered this on his Formspring:

Do you not think there’s hypocrisy in undoing the editorially mandated marriage of Peter and Mj and then doing something like the marriage of Storm and BP and Northstar and Kyle? The marriage of Peter and Mj felt far less forced or sudden. :

No, because different characters require different things. This is similar to arguing that it’s unfair that Reed Richards is so smart–that works for his character, but wouldn’t work as well for, say, Ben Grimm. Different character. Also, and take this from somebody who was there as a reader and watched it happen, the marriage of Peter and MJ was absolutely as forced and sudden, probably more so. It’s just had the advantage of having been a status quo for so long that a lot of readers grew up with it and accepted it. We’ve never said that no characters should be married, the point is that Spider-Man, the most popular youth-based character in the entertainment world, probably shouldn’t be married.

For more on the matter, gay writer Andrew Wheeler explains why he thinks the Northstar-Kyle nuptials don’t make storytelling sense.

Assuming Northstar’s marriage works out, he will now never get that love story. He will never be a romantic leading man. I’m not saying that marriage is the death of romance, but it doesn’t offer the frisson of uncertainty that energizes romantic stories.

And if Northstar’s marriage doesn’t work out, that’s even worse. Marvel couldn’t have Spider-Man get divorced because they thought it would send a negative message, so they came up with the single worst plotline in the history of comics: a superhero sacrificing his marriage to Satan. Think how much greater the stigma will be if Marvel undoes its headline-grabbing first gay marriage. It would imply that gay marriages are less stable than straight marriages. They can’t set that precedent. This marriage is a one-way street.

  1. Marriage sure as hell can “offer the frisson of uncertainty that energizes romantic stories”. Hawkeye and Mockingbird, not to go too far back or to other companies, had a fiery, passionate thing under certain writers. So much of Avengers West Coast and Solo Avengers- if they weren’t shouting at each other they were sucking face, always one or the other.

    And Brevoort’s an idiot for defending the One More Day garbage. If bachelor writers in their 30s or 40s can’t figure out how to write compelling Pete and MJ scripts as did so many of the past twenty-plus years worth of writers that’s their own damn ignorance. In my mind, this reversion of character is as commendable as the teenage Tony Stark rubbish back in the 90s. If a writer cannot keep moving ahead, don’t move the character back to compensate. Find a different, more adequate writer.

    Straight or gay, marriage doesn’t fix or resolve anything. It should be an expression of what’s already there. And when it really is it’s a huge step forward for all parties.

  2. Andrew has a point, though. Like it or not, there’s a reason why stories traditionally END with the lead couple overcoming obstacles to be together. If you buy into some of the more Jungian interpretations, it symbolises a new equilibrium being established and the start of a new generational cycle… but it’s hard to deny that it’s a trope traditionally used to signify closure and resolution. (Hence the inclusion of random love interests in action films. They add nothing to the story but contribute to the sense of closure.)

    That said, it obviously depends on what you’re going to do with the character; plenty of married couples have worked just fine as the central figures in sitcoms or ensemble dramas, and they’re often essential as supporting players. That wasn’t really a role that worked for Spider-Man without completely upending the soap opera structure of his book. Ultimately, Marvel are right to say that you can only take these long-running characters so far without fundamentally departing from the concept that made them work. Sure, you CAN write a version of Spider-Man that abandons all the soap opera elements (and for a while they did), but only in the same sense that you can write a version of Spider-Man where he gives it all up to sell insurance. That might even be a good book on its own terms, but it wouldn’t be Amazing Spider-Man.

    Northstar, on the other hand, basically hasn’t HAD a role in many years, other than to be snarky and gay in occasional guest appearances. So casting his character in a different role is less of a problem. It also makes him the only X-Man with a civilian spouse – in fact, about the only X-Man who interacts with normal people AT ALL these days – and that in itself arguably gives him a distinct role in the series. But I can see where Andrew’s coming from.

  3. It’s a question of keeping Northstar in prominence once this storyline concludes. Marjorie Liu I’m sure will do him justice, but what happens when her run finishes and the next writer decides they don’t want to write about Northstar and Kyle? This is easier to reconcile than Storm/Black Panther, because both characters are owned by the same office within Marvel.

    And what happens if the new writers focus only on him as a married man, and not as a self-contained person? There are several reasons to be uneasy over what marriage will bring to the character – in the short term, it’s massively out of character for him. In the long-term, is this going to make out-of-character Northstar the new canon personality for Northstar?

  4. @Jamie

    Exactly. Kyle’s black, gay, and a superhero spouse. It’s only a matter of time, really.

    The only question is whether he becomes a villain first.

  5. The “it’s OK that Reed Richards is so smart, but not Ben Grimm” may be the stupidest thing I’ve read since, oh, well, “One More Day!”

  6. Has Northstar ever been a lead character in a series? he had a mini but that’s about it. I don’t even think he was all that huge of a part of Alpha Flight back in the day.

    And this thing about a married character can’t headline a series is crap. Reed Richards does it and it’s awesome.

  7. I don’t read this book. However, I would say marriage has changed many a person for the positive or negative. This is easily a change marvel could capitalize on to make him a focused driven character. He is a powerful right? I am pretty sure he is powerful. Add a little drive and he could jump up in the ranks. I mean look at Aquaman. I still can’t believe no one has woken up and realized they are reading Aquaman. I guess John’s can write. Anywho marriage is irrelevant, writing is.

  8. I’m just surprised Northstar had to go outside of his primary community to find love; movie stars and musicians date each other, straight superheroes date each other. Gay superheroes? They have to go to Match.com.

    Since Marvel is the world right outside our windows, that would mean 220 of their 11,000 characters would be gay, with about 100 gay males.

  9. @Jamie Coville

    I had the same thought, but won’t they just kill Northstar again? Doesn’t he die once a decade?

  10. I might be remembering wrong but wasn’t Northstar revealed to be an elf as well? If so he’d be the first gay elf to be married since that Keebler couple in the late 90s.

  11. “Tom Brevoort on why Northstar’s wedding will not have to be nullified”

    Err, because no one cares about it in the first place?

  12. First, the question of questioning why the Spidey/MJ marriage can’t be but the Northstar/ Kyle marriage is ok seems a little baseless.

    Second, Breevots’ responses of Spidey shouldn’t be married because he’s the most popular young character and being smart works for Reed but not Ben are just shortsighted.

    Third, the fact that the Spidey/ MJ marriage was forced to, as most forced storylines are, generate buzz and attention.

    This situation highlights one of the Big 2’s big problems- marketing. It was a bit of luck that same sex marriage has been heavy in the news recently. Marvel has had this planned for awhile but to the broader public it simply looks like a stunt. And, in truth, it is. And, to some, that just solidifies their view of comics – a bit of a joke. It’s akin to the shy kid in class who suddenly tries to be the class clown.

    This is actually puts the creators at a disadvantage with the stigma the comic books still have. My question is why promote one issue instead of the whole arc?

    I realize that some of my thoughts about this tread on beat up rodes but this is just a snapshot of my thoughts upon reading this.

  13. @Ian. Yes, this was around Alpha Flight #50. Northstar was sick with something in the storyline, it was supposed to be revealed then that he was A) Gay and B) had AIDS. This got nixed by somebody more important than Bill Mantlo and his sickness became that he (and his sister) was actually an elf (or Fairy – haha) and was away from his magical homeland for too long.

    It was quickly forgotten.

    Peter David talks a bit about it here: http://www.peterdavid.net/archives/002241.html

  14. It seems to me marvel editors don’t understand that modern readers –love– unpredictable series where the rockmade giant monster can be a genius too.

  15. have to agree with andrew wheeler that the spidey “deal with satan” plotline is the single worst plotline in the history of comics (and there have been some really crappy plotlines throughout the decades). as for northstar and kyle, i disagree with mr.wheeler, it may be years before any writer decides to muck with the marriage, but one day the marriage will be mucked with. why? because it’s a marriage in the marvel universe, where eventually ALL marriages are mucked with to various degrees.

  16. Like every other member of Alpha Flight, no one at Marvel knows how to write them so they “sacrifice” Northstar by marrying him off. Just like they tried to make him an elf, they outed him, they killed him, and they resurrected him. Marvel doesn’t know what to do with him.

  17. I don’t know…..there is a lot to discuss through all these posts. I have loved Alpha Flight ever since John Byrne created them and they had their own comic book in the 80s. Byrne’s writing was so character-driven and much more about drama than adventure. It was pretty mature, and yes, I was one of the readers who figured out that Northstar was gay by the narrative comments Byrns inserted in the storyline. It just made sense in lots of ways.

    Jean Paul and his sister’s ability to move and fly at hyper speed is pretty powerful…sonic booms and incredible fast speed anywhere, anytime. I think it gives them their aloofness….and it does seem weird that re is getting married, especuially to someone with no powers when Northstar can travel around the world in just a few hours, etc. It seems kinda limiting i guess. So porr kyle will probably get kidnapped by the Master and become a villain, or get powers himself somehow. But Northstar won’t be the same after this. Maybe that is a good thing but i always loved his snotty, arrogance-as-confidence schtick. And the french accent. And one of the coolest costumes in marvel!

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