marvel did an oopsie | QTR

April 8, 2020.

So Adobe caught on to my leeching ways and I had to uninstall Premiere and I don’t have a functioning microphone, but you know what, I’m self isolating and I’m mad, so I’m gonna make videos anyway.

The other day Marvel released their new, uh. Their new… New Warriors. The line-up seems to be, uh, Mr. Matrix, Frozone, Prince Gumball, punk Hordak and… Dora the Explorer. Overall the general idea seems alright, there’s a bit of racial and body diversity and their powers try to hit themes that are relatable for a modern audience. The two writers in charge of this even added Marvel’s first nonbinary superhero. So, what did they name this ground-breaking new character? Well…  /Begins laughing in agony, image zooms out to names/

They named them Snowflake. Snowflake. And their twin brother is called Safespace– I can’t make this shit up. They tried so hard for some woke points and yet missed the mark even harder. And that’s what I want to talk about today. Well, that, and I want to plug my own OCs. It’s relevant I promise, and we’ll get back to that later.

To start with, I am nonbinary, specifically I am agender. I use they/them pronouns, and though I don’t feel a connection to my assigned gender, I was assigned female and definitely look it both in body shape and fashion style. This has greatly influenced my worldview and it’s really important to how I view this character and my own writing so I want to mention it before I start. Now, /snorts/ SnOwfLaKE is a genderfluid, very clearly assigned female person who – according to official descriptions – chose the name due to their superpower being the ability to create snowflake-like shuriken, and to sort of reclaim the word as a symbol of agency and power. Cool motive, still ridiculous. If I remember correctly both of the writers are cis white men, and to me this takes away some of the sincerity behind that naming rhetoric. As trans people exploring our own identities, we should be the ones that decide what slurs and insults we reclaim, cis people can’t just do that for us.

The name Snowflake tries to be subversive, but just makes the connotations of the word worse because this is so clearly just being played for some sort of woke points. Another thing I pointed out is how blatant in their character design Snowflake’s assigned gender is, especially in comparison to their twin brother. As an assigned female nonbinary person, I am certainly biased towards feminine characters of all genders when I write and I feel represented here, even if it’s poorly done. However, it does reveal a bit of a glaring issue in popular media; trans women and assigned male nonbinary people seem to be lacking, much more than their counterparts. I’ve noticed that the idea of nonbinary identities seems confined in the public consciousness to androgynous and soft masc people in biologically female bodies, and both binary and nonbinary assigned-male people go severely underrepresented, which contributes to transmisogyny. Obviously feminine nonbinary people exist – this is why I mentioned that I’m in that category – but we are not the only nonbinary people, or trans people in general, who exist.

Now, I want to talk about Snowflake’s character design in direct relation to their twin, Safespace. His power is centred on force fields, hence his name. As I mentioned before, his big build really accentuates how feminine Snowflake’s body is and highlights that public idea of nonbinary people just being…. Soft masc women, for want of a better description, since we’re not women. Their outfit palettes (which I also don’t like from a design perspective) add another layer to this. In current Western culture, we tend to associate pink with girls and blue with boys. By *sUbveRtinG* this notion and making Safespace wear the colour associated with the opposite gender and take on a protective role, and making Snowflake blue and offensive, they inadvertently coded Snowflake as a woman anyway, since they mirror their brother’s gender role inversion. So the writers screwed up real bad.

Time for a brief intermission to share this bit of official art. I think they got their sibling dynamic ideas from Game of Thrones and the step-sibling section on PornHub. Thank you for looking at this hellish image with me, onto the next part.

I almost lost my mind when I saw these designs and read up on their powers for yet another lot of reasons, and that’s because they are eerily similar to some of my own characters. I highly doubt they stole my ideas since they’re not well known and I’m not an egotistical prick, but it’s kind of funny that they had similar concepts and made them into garbage. This universe I started making with some friends has a sci-fi setting where some people are born with superpowers. A bit similar to the New Warriors, but not what set me off because it’s a fairly common genre. Anyway, two of the characters I wrote for this universe are twins. They own a set of matching outfits for their work, and the boy’s has pink accents and the girl’s has blue. So I did the same gender subversion thing, however – they are cis, meaning they have binary genders matching what they were assigned at birth. Neither of them makes non-binary people look like a fake identity or trend in the way Snowflake does.

But speaking of non-binary characters, my other one for this universe is actually quite feminine but due to my personal experience as a feminine non-binary person. I’m not an older cis man trying to appeal to a trans audience by using stereotypes of non-binary people being soft masculine or confused women. I certainly encourage everyone to write with diversity, but you have to do it with research and a willingness to consult people from the groups you’re trying to represent. Anyway, I got sidetracked – my character, much like Safespace, is a dark skinned person of colour who makes pink force field bubbles. They have the same powers and their colour palettes are similar aesthetics and they’re even both black and I’m losing it. It’s just a little uncanny to me.

And while I’m here I just want to say that I don’t really like the designs for Snowflake and Safespace. Not as much as I hate their names obviously but the colour accents and patterns feel a bit in your face. I don’t know, maybe it’s just because I saw other people critique it but it is a bit garish how the colours are so bright and take up so much of the outfit. At least on my guys the accent colours are quite minimal.

So, yeah, thank you guys for dealing with my little rant and I hope I’ll be able to make more kinds of videos more often real soon. Stay safe this virus season, and have a good day.

By draweththeraven

My name's Raven, and I'm a writer, animator, and theorist.

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