Are Race and Sexuality Important to the Characters You Read?

Disclaimer: As somebody who’s social circle does not often talk about the race or sexual orientation of characters, I have a bit of a hard time understanding why some people cling to these facets with such vigor. I understand that my stance is most likely because I’m a fairly sexually repressed straight white male, but at the same time I’m intrigued by others’ views on the subject. This thread is in no way one that promotes or encourages hate speech or derogatory terms. I’d just like to know other folks thoughts on which characters they gravitate towards and if that character’s skin color or whether or not their boffing another takes your enjoyment out of it.

Having spent a lot of my free time over the last year watching DC Daily and scanning the community boards, I’ve noticed a lot of people will have a favorite character based on a similar quality they share with that character; I myself grew up loving the Hulk since I was a small, nerdy child with a terrible temper, but that shifted to Nightwing when I felt myself growing into my own person, and again to Hellboy when I became more curious about the religions and folklore of different cultures. Do you have anyone specific that you live vicariously through as you’re reading comics, and are there any characters opposite from yourself that you also enjoy with the same intensity?

Bonus Question : Are there any characters you feel would work better if they were a different race or sexual orientation?


My honest answer is yes and no. There are times I don’t want to have to think about racial or minority issues, especially as a member of the LGBT+ community myself. There are moments I want pure escapism when I don’t think at all about these real world aspects, but there are other moments when I am looking for myself in a character. I want to see myself somewhere, so I look for those portrayals as well. Sometimes it is even just a personality traits I gravitate towards in a character. For example, Kate Spencer (Manhunter) is one of my favorites simply because of the personality she is portrayed as having, which is she shows that she has shame for some aspects of herself, but she keeps fighting through it all. She wants to see justice served in a way she doesn’t think the legal system can do. I enjoy that. As I mentioned though there are moments I want characters that look more like me. I look for LGBT+ characters, but often this has me searching outside of the world of DC and Marvel. So yes at times race and sexuality matters when you want to see some representation of yourself in what you are reading, watching, viewing, or interacting with. I think it can be vital at times for minority populations that have not always been represented fully in the past.


I believe that comics should be for everyone, and in the power of recognizing someone who stands for your own identity and experience within those comics as a tool of empowerment. A diverse cast of heroes is important to maximizing that empowerment.


Simply put, I care about people based on who they are inside.

Orientations don’t bother me. Love is love.


I think the factors and characteristics that make up real people help to create a better character. So, in the context of a character’s creation, yes, I think those traits (and many others) are important. This is one of the reasons that changing some of those traits across media annoys me Another is that I like to recognize the character I like across media regardless of where I first met them. I also think that creating a new character that has whatever trait changes is better than trying to replace the old because a new character opens up more story possibilities such as interacting with the first character and having their own supporting cast and voice.

Outside of character creation, I don’t think those traits have to matter as a focal point for a book. If some characters have stories that revolve around those traits, fine, but I don’t think all stories should. Personally, I like character interactions and super hero splash pages, so if a book gets too focused on only a single characteristic for too long, then I won’t stay/be interested.


I very deeply about gender, race, sexuality being well represented. However, I grew up with Eras of comics where it was a very patriarchal and white representations. Few female superheroes or villains, and the non-male non-white characters were far to often steep types. So I was very well aware that comics didn’t have much in the way of diversity.

Stronger racial & gender identities started to come about in the Bronze Age, but still more exception than rule. Sexuality was virtually non-existent. Probably on of the reasons I collected adult comics for several years.

I think now, I see more diversity in comics, the lack of diversity is so much less, so I don’t care as much. Does character X need to be of a certain race, gender orientation. I don’t really care as much now. Batwoman is canonically a lesbian. Great for her. Only to the extent it impacts the character’ perspective and potential romantic interesting. But I don’t care what Kate Kanes sexual identity is. She could just as easily by a straight or bi character, makes no difference to me. If the character is true to themselves, than that’s all I generally only care about today.


I don’t care. I mean that in the sense that those characteristics are not what attracts me to a character or not. This week’s Aquaman features Jackson Hyde Aqualad prominently. Great, fun character as DeConnick is writing him, but I wouldn’t say it’s because of his race and sexuality.
If I were creating a universe of characters, you would see a broad array of those and other traits because that’s what the world looks like. It can also make that world, and this one, more interesting.


I’m a straight, WASP man, and in a way I’m sick of characters who are like me. And I’m definitely sick of being so overrepresented while other people are so underrepresented. So I enjoy less familiar characters, and I value diversity for its own sake.


I think there’s a lot of value that comes from diverse characters. Not only does it make the world more realistic and allow for people to relate to a character, but it also allows everyone to gain a better understanding of people from different backgrounds. If all media embraced a more diverse set of characters, actors, writers, musicians, or whatever; I think the world would be a more accomadating and better place.


My favorite team not so long ago was All New Avengers with

Tony Stark Iron Man


The Moslem Miss Marvel


New teen character Sam as Nova

Falcon as Captain America, still flying but with Cap’s Shield

Jane Foster as Lady Thor

Mike Morales as Spiderman

Although four of the characters were not the originals, the group jelled.

Jane Foster was the standout, with a warrior attitude like some versions of Donna Troy and Wonder Woman. She was dying of cancer and had a romance with Sam Wilson Cap

I am glad she has a new comic as Valkyrie, free of cancer but with other problems.

Like DC comics All Star Comics with Earth 2 Power Girl and Huntress replacing the original Superman and Batman, this team had a combination of old and new.

But this Marvel team had a limited number of heroes the magic number seven, experienced characters and not so experienced plus great different personalities.

The team was not to last and partially replaced by the Champions

This was a good group with

Ms Marvel
from above group


Viv Vision daughter of vision
Genius Korean Hulk
Original Teen X man Cyclops

The relationships were not as varied and nobody was really experienced but Cyclops.
Viv and Cyclops were great. Ms Marvel adorable as leader.
Then they added way too many members and sent Cyclops back to his old time stream and it wasn’t the same.

I wouldn’t have minded the original seven with Viv replacing her father, Falcon being like the Movie Falcon and Jane Foster becoming the Valkyrie. With three females, the team would have been even more varied. Plus no fan favorites would have been replaced as there was already two Spider Mans.

So done well, characters can be replaced.

Done badly there is fan resentment and the new character is badly done and not given a chance.

In general new characters should not replace old but be new as possible like Jane Foster giving up her role as Lady Thor after being proven worthy in a powerful last arc and replacing the original version of Valkyrie, who was deceased and off the table

Brunhilda, the Original Valkyrie, had her storylines used up and was split, Captain Marvel like, into Annabella Riggs and herself. Now Annabella will be part of Jane Foster’ cast so nothing is lost, since the original Valkyrie did not have a great personality while Anabella did. An improvement of new over old.


As long as the care is well written, they can be straight, gay, white, black, male, female etc.

Don’t matter to me as long as the story is good. Samnee and Waid Black Widow run is one of my all-time favorites because the story rules and the action/art is a big bonus. I didn’t judge the story on her being female and I never will for any.


For many if it’s your race, sexuality, or gender being represented, and represented well, then it matters a lot, I believe. We’ve had this discussion before in other threads, like the wonderful LGBT DC Fans thread, and @DeSade-acolyte already mentioned how until fairly recently comics and really all media was not good at representing all people. Comics have always been political and championing the marginalized. Superman is literally a refugee. This is normal.


I can see why people enjoy seeing their groups represented in comics, but I’m primarily interested in good stories. The race and sexual orientation has little if any value to me. I like to judge characters on the content of their writing not the color of their ink or what other blobs of ink they are kissing.


@BatWatch I agree, the story is most important. Each of the groups have rich histories that can really add to the entire experience. I don’t like it when they are forced into the story by some misguided reaction to the SJW movement. Changing previous well established heroes to placate activists is silly; I would think heroes developed from the beginning with their own history and vision would be more meaningful. Black panther is an excellent example, the new Batwoman is another.


I wonder if blonde men got mad when Hal Jordan replaced Alan Scott. Darn those Brunette Hair Warriors replacing existing characters!


Red-heads are also overrepresented. I believe the Red-Headed League is behind this.

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@jeffbg I don’t know what the “SJW movement” is (as it’s extremely vague and doesnt make much sense), but you contradicted yourself in that statement. If all you care about is a good story, then what sexuality, gender, etc. a character is shouldn’t matter to you. If anything, you should be glad, because it opens new paths for stories and character growth.


No contradiction. a good story is what is all about; there’s rarely, possibly never, a good reason to change a well established character’s race or sexuality. If that orientation is important then create a new character. Now I said rarely, while it wasn’t necessary I thought Mechad Brooks was an excellent Jimmy Olsen.


Honestly, I know this will come off as if I’m trying to be the perfect pc person. However,

truthfully, I don’t even pay attention to race, gender etc. of a character. I do heavily favor

female characters. My collection is dominated with female figures. I relate with Huntress

b/c she’s Italian but not the religious part. I live vicariously thru her when she talks about

what it means to an Italian in different situations. She’s one of the few that has mob ties,

but isn’t just a background character that’s getting busted for a racket or being used as

a bodyguard. I love reading my language, even if it’s sparse, & when she mentions

customs, even stereotypes of Italians. I don’t mind my own race being stereotyped if it’s

true. It’s more like she’s so right then how dare they say that. No race, sexuality etc of a

character bothers me but I love the female ( dr. Kimiyo Hoshi) dr. Light over the male.

give me some slack I did the name from memory on Hoshi but I’m pretty sure it looks

right, kinda proud of myself, so if it’s not be gentle.


No. I do prefer that the honor the characters the way they are written though.