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No, Seriously, the X-Men Can’t Get AIDS

xmenaids

Last week, I discussed the rather odd (in a bad way) idea that mutants cannot contract AIDS (nor, naturally enough, HIV). I thought that the notion first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #427 by Chuck Austen, Steve Kim and a number of inkers. As it turns out, commenter Mikhail pointed out that Austen actually debuted the notion six issues earlier, in Uncanny X-Men #421 by Austen, Ron Garney and Mark Morales.

Read on to see how it was introduced!

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xmenaids2

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So not only was the idea a poor one, but it was actually repeated twice in six issues!

88 Comments

Not that Marvel’s version of genetics makes any sense in the first place, but one really wonders what Chuck Austen was thinking with such an odd statement and this kind of no-explanation.

And boy, Paige was written as such a prick in that scene. A girl that immature shouldn’t get involved with a grown man in the best of days.

Luis, both women are written very poorly in this scene!

The original sources seem to be lost in the memory hole, but this old forum post (which quotes from the other sources I said I couldn’t find) sheds some light on Austen’s thinking/justification at the time: http://forums.superherohype.com/showthread.php?t=245262:

“This is funny to me. This was intended to be a throw away line, taken from continuity, to explain why Warren isn’t afraid of giving or getting AIDs to those folks out there who wonder about such things.

People are all up in arms about it, but it’s established in continuity, and it’s also been established that the mutants DO INDEED, contrary to comments by other posters, have a different immune system.

Or does anyone remember the Legacy virus that only infected mutants?

And as to your question, sinestro, the way we look at it is that the X-gene makes them impervious to this particular retrovirus. It stops the AIDs virus from interfering with the genetic makepup of the cell at at genetic level, therefor not making it a potential cure for humans, either.

But this cellular level difference will also come into play with Warren’s healing facotr and what he can and cannot heal.”

The others in the forum above tried to figure it out and, although nobody absolutely confirmed it with a citation, they seem to think it originally came from PAD’s original run on X-Factor and was sort of intended as either a snarky throwaway line that got misinterpreted as being a serious statement, or a way to get Northstar out of the spectre of AIDs permanently, or a little of both.

“Oh, I totally casually forgot to tell you I’m cured of AIDS!”

what the f***?

Uncanny X-Men also covered this is the issue right after Warren (Angel) figures out he has a healing factor AND his blood can be put on wounds to heal them (on other people) or injected to cure disease/near neath (they use Warren’s blood to bring Jubilee back from the brink of death that time she was x-crucified)…
Warren sees immediately what this means for him, and takes it to a hospital to show a doctor so that they can start using this blood for numerous terminal patients… Saves many lives that day.

You’re misreading, Darkhawk, the healing was of the conventional “I got seriously wounded and his blood made me spontaneously heal all my wounds” type, not of AIDS.

If you can call that conventional.

Luis and Ben: From what I understand, Austen wasn’t known for writing any character particularly well. Then again, I thought the point of Chris Sims’ article that Brian linked in the discussion of this being a bad idea, Austen did get his start in porn comics. I admit I haven’t indulged in that genre, but porn, in general, is not known for strong portrayals of women.

As for adding in this scan and Peter’s quote from Austen, it sounds more and more like a Pavlovian response to Warren giving others his blood. As in every time it’s mentioned that Warren gave someone his blood or someone mentions getting his blood, they have to say, “Mutants can’t get AIDS!”

Tracer Bullet

May 26, 2014 at 4:55 am

Kitty at 14 was less insufferable than Paige in her 20s.

It’s like reading a brochure: “How to fail the Bechdel Test (with added bad science)”

Twice in seven issues actually.

@shivkala —

I was actually the one that linked the Chris Sims article, but whatever…

The Legacy Virus was based on scientific speculation that it might be possible to create a disease that only targeted specific ethnic groups- for example, a European army fighting in Africa might create a disease that only affected Africans, so its troops would be unaffected. That’s not saying that Europeans and Africans have different immune systems.

We can’t get AIDS! It just makes me want to hug a pillow.

I’m still trying to follow the logic of the conversation:

“He healed me.”
“Is he sexually active?”
“Mutants can’t get AIDS.”

They appear to be three totally unconnected ideas.

Although, given Warren’s comments in the previous article, this looks like it was standard conversational gambit in the X-books:

“Hi. I’m a mutant. I can’t get AIDS.”

Presumably this was then followed by:

“Unlike you pathetic non-mutants. So I’m better than you you. Go and catch AIDS and die.”

No wonder mutants are so hated in the Marvel Universe.

And, as was pointed out in the previous post, the Legacy Virus did end up infecting humans like Moira MacTaggert, so Austen didn’t even get the reference right.

Why is such a huge deal being made over this? It makes perfect sense that a genetic quirk would prevent the contraction of a disease, the mutants are TECHNICALLY another species, there’s plenty of examples where viruses can’t cross between species.

Plus, it’s not even the first time something like this has happened. It’s cannon that The Hulk can’t get HIV or Aids.

And of course, AIDS is the only STD that ever existed.
As Michael says, the Legacy Virus is hardly proof mutants don’t have the same immune system.
If the concern was Warren’s blood, just saying the healing power prevents him transmitting blood-borne diseases (or just that he doesn’t have any) would have been simpler.

I’m imagining some hyper-sexually active mutant taking advantage of this with poor results. “So, doc, no AIDS, right?” “No AIDS. You do, however, have herpes, gonorrhea, hepatitis-C, rabies….”

Brian, you could do a whole month of bad Chuck Austen comics. I nominate that Superman issue where he goes on a rampage because a kid died…of natural causes. It wasn’t even like Superman was responsible, but the kid was sooooooooooo nice…so of course Superman starts punching stuff.

Fraser:”And of course, AIDS is the only STD that ever existed.”

Yeah, in the panel where the doctor is talking to Warren, reference is made to both AIDS/HIV and hepatitis. Warren blandly states that mutants can’t get AIDS, which still leaves hepatitis…..

Warren’s Healing blood: Is this still canon? If so, how is it dealt with? Does Warren donate his panacea blood on a regular schedule?

Adam, these Chuck Austen posts make me wonder about his Action Comics run. I read and own them but do not really remember them, except the art was good and Doomsday got a brain. Most all the ‘Chuck Austen is bad’ posts and comments I have read relate to the X-Men, which makes me ask ‘do/did people like his Superman?’

Charles J. Baserap

May 26, 2014 at 7:20 am

@Peter,the Legacy Virus DIDN’T only infect mutants; it started out that way and then evolved and Moira MacTaggart contracted it, prompting Trish Tilby to report it in X-Men Prime right after Age of Apocalypse.

I believe this is a weird variation of Austen’s obsession with sex, extended dutifully to STDs.

Gross. Gross. Gross. I really dislike when superhero comics try to be politically relevant because it often comes across as either offensively trivializing (here) or embarrassingly reductive (eg. Mark Millar).

I don’t think I have a problem with the idea that Mutants *can’t* get AIDS

I do have a problem with how finding it out come out of nowhere, though to be fair Annie’s new to the school at this point and is still finding out things about Mutants. When I read this for the first time I hadn’t read X-Men books for a few years (picked up again at start of Morrison & Austen’s runs) and thought “oh well maybe this is something that came up while I was not looking”

I’ve also got a problem with the idea going nowhere and nothing being done with it later.

It’s sort of just there for a couple of issues in throw away lines and then gone.

the only way i could see mutants not getting aids since john byrne or some one once planned for north star to wind up with aids that got nixed by the infamous eic jim shooter the only way i could see mutants being immune to aids is if one has a healing factor like wolverine or warrens . but given that chuck austen was doing the xbooks at the time not surprise he would come up with something like oh mutants can’t get aids

Richard: “It makes perfect sense that a genetic quirk would prevent the contraction of a disease, the mutants are TECHNICALLY another species,”
No. A mutation doesn’t necessarily make you a different species. Technically they’re homo sapiens superior, a human subspecies, and they can still have babies with homo sapiens sapiens (Xavier and Gabrielle Heller producing Legion, for instance). So not a separate species.
It’s not that this couldn’t work as much as Austen handled it so clunkily. But of course, “Austen’s work as clunky” is a redundancy.

or as page told annie they are immune due to the xgene that gives mutants their powers and makes them homo superior

@Charles J. Baserap: I never said it did, I’m quoting Austen (who’s wrong on that point, and may well be wrong on it being established in continuity as well).

That said, “The Legacy Virus” was actually several separate strains, and only the third strain affected a single human that I’m aware of (who not only spent extensive time among infected mutants, but also was the mother of a mutant herself) – and that strain was caused by a mutant power altering the virus’ structure. So it’s still kinda correct to say that the unaltered Legacy Virus only affects mutants.

@Eric Henry: The idea’s not so disconnected as you claim.
It’s more like:
Husk: “He healed me.”
Annie: “What?”
Husk: “I was hurt, and his blood mixed with mine, and that healed me.”
Annie (being a nurse who probably has to be extra aware of the risk of “the blood of a patient getting on an open wound of yours and getting in to your system” than an average person): He can do that? Is he sexually active? (Subtext: Because there’s a risk, you know!)
Paige: Don’t be like that, besides, Mutants can’t get AIDS (Subtext: I know what you’re getting at here, and it doesn’t even apply)

The idea’s stupid, and as others have argued, it leaves out all the OTHER diseases that can be transmitted through blood, but the path of the conversation given the stupid elements makes sense.

Is it canon that the Hulk can’t get AIDS?

I always thought the line was more intended as a throw away line to make Paige seem less academic than she had been portrayed to this point, as Austen (and some other writers at the time) seemed to want to deage her and turn her into a giggly love-stricken teen. Like she believed an ol’ wives tale like that. 6 issues later, she’d meet a mutant with AIDS and be “oh, snap.”

^ And no, I’m not justifying the writing. Just surprised the conversation about this line has continued this long after the book was published.

warrens dead still. i hope. commence hating

When he was writing Superman or Action, didn’t Austen write an evil Kandorian who raped women to death? I’m pretty sure I saw panels of that posted somewhere.

Jeff Jacobson

May 26, 2014 at 9:47 am

Magic blood? If Robert Orci was making X-Men movies, this would definitely be a major plot point.

One of the dumber things Chuck Austen introduced… and boy, he introduced a lot of dumb things.
Instead of a blanket “mutants can’t get AIDS” which is insensitive, stupid, and implausible, there was a much simpler way he could have addressed the issue of Angel’s blood being used to heal people.

“His blood has healing powers. Those override any possibility of spreading disease.”

“I’m the best there is at what I do, and what I do is not catch AIDS.”

This is going to sound controversial, but I actually don’t have problems with the way Paige is written. When I was in university I knew *many* young women who talked that way when they first got involved with someone. She’s actually written quite accurately.

I think the difficulty here is that accurately, that kind of person is *very* annoying and not a person you want to read about or invest in as a character. I saw the same reactions to Supergirl several years back pre-52; “she’s so annoying and immature”. Many people, men and women alike, are when they are 17, myself included =)

Justice, I think the problem is that portrayal of Paige is so very different from how she was originally written by Scott Lobdell. Yes, I don’t believe I’m defending Lobdell, a writer I have little love for, but he was good in GENERATION X, and miles beyond Austen.

GENERATION X may have been unrealistic in the way a lot of teen fiction is unrealistic. Those teens talked more like philosophy majors than actual teens. But considering that people usually like their characters with some depth, that is not necessarily a problem.

The X-men over time has become one weird comic.

Is it canon that the Hulk can’t get AIDS?

Peter David did a story in which the Hulk’s old friend Jim Wilson was dying of an AIDS-related illness and tried to convince the intelligent, “Merged” Hulk to give him a blood transfusion, since the HUlk’s super-healing powers could theoretically be the key to a cure. In the end, the Hulk refused on the grounds that the mutating effects would be unpredictable and could well turn Jim into a monster.

To piggyback on Omar: there was an earlier PAD story which established that Jim Wilson had AIDS in the first place. Jim suffered a severe cut, as did Rick Jones, and Rick couldn’t stop Jim’s bleeding for fear of getting infected. The Hulk later rushed Jim to the hospital, commenting something like “Don’t worry, the virus won’t affect my immune system.” I think the point was less “The Hulk can’t get AIDS” and more “the Hulk’s system is super-immune to illness.”

@kdu2814, I honestly don’t remember much about Austen’s run. It came in the early 2000s, which was a time where DC was transitioning between the happy Grant Morrison JLA era and the “Let’s make everything violent!” Geoff Johns era. In other words, I think Austen came on because he was a “hot property” for some reason. That’s really the only issue I remember–Superman throws a temper tantrum because a kid died.

I have no idea why Austen even needed to bring this up. If to was to cover Warren’s ass when donating blood, it only brings up the possibility that he can pass on other diseases.

Honestly, if Warren’s blood can bring you back from the brink of death, it’s safe to assume that it’s going to cure any and all diseases as well. So bringing up the whole “WE CAN’T GET AIDS” thing wasn’t even necessary in the first place.

@renenarciso- Exactly. It was the same problem as Louise Simonson’s New Mutants- she tried to write them as “average teenagers” instead of the unique characters they were.

Speaking of mutants and AIDS, there were plans to do a story about Northstar getting AIDS a few years before he officially came out, but thankfully Marvel came to their senses and put the kibosh on that one.

“Why is such a huge deal being made over this? It makes perfect sense that a genetic quirk would prevent the contraction of a disease, the mutants are TECHNICALLY another species, there’s plenty of examples where viruses can’t cross between species.”

*Technically*, humans and mutants are actually the same species, at least if you accept the definition that creatures are in the same species if they’re capable of breeding fertile offspring. (Differing species can produce infertile offspring – horses and donkeys producing mules, for example.) While I can’t think of too many examples to back it up (owing more to most characters not being old enough to have grandchildren, or only showing human-human and/or mutant-mutant couplings), there is at least one fertile child of a human and a mutant I can think of: Quicksilver, the son of mutant Magneto and human Magda. (I won’t count Scarlet Witch, due to the whole weirdness surrounding whether or not her children even existed.) So, assuming Quicksilver isn’t an aberration, taxonomically, humans and mutants are the same species.

Also, while there may be plenty of examples where viruses can’t spread between species, HIV isn’t actually one of them, as it’s believed to have originated in chimpanzees, monkeys, and other primates before spreading to humans. So even then, “mutants can’t get AIDS because they’re a different species than humans” doesn’t really work as an explanation, either…

@GreenLuthor: And then Quicksilver had a non-mutant daughter with Crystal, an Inhuman. IIRC, Luna was tested for the mutant gene and came up negative. She does currently have powers, but that was due to exposure to the Terrigen Mists, which empowers people of Inhuman blood.

I’m surprised no one has pointed out the possible interpretation that Warren could just have just been lying (for the purpose of seducing a young woman) – a la the guy from Team America World Police (“I will never die”), but then it got repeated again in later issues (but by Warren himself, who was by that point serially creepy, and thus unreliable).

Rene: :GENERATION X may have been unrealistic in the way a lot of teen fiction is unrealistic. Those teens talked more like philosophy majors than actual teens. But considering that people usually like their characters with some depth, that is not necessarily a problem.”
It can be overdone. I read a novel recently in which the freshman college students tossed off so many literary references in casual conversation it was laughable (and I’ve been in college with extremely intelligent students and extremely pretentious students). But yes, usually above average wit and intelligence are a plus.

The real victim is Ron Garney, who had to draw this and try to sell this stupid exchange. Under the circumstances, I think he did okay.

I’m surprised no one has pointed out the possible interpretation that Warren could just have just been lying (for the purpose of seducing a young woman) – a la the guy from Team America World Police (“I will never die”), but then it got repeated again in later issues (but by Warren himself, who was by that point serially creepy, and thus unreliable).

The doctor in the later issue confirms that mutants can’t get AIDS.

Siryn has a human mother and got pregnant… Kind of.

I can just imagine Gambit hearing the news and being thrilled, especially since . . . his power . .. non-organic material . . . fudge it, you write the rest of the joke.

Has anybody mentioned how bad Chuck Austen’s writing was? And I could’ve sworn he had Superman channel Hillary Duff in Action Comics.

Mutants can however get colds and flu (Kitty), which are viral, so what is it about HIV that the “x-gene” is so successful against? Seems quite a random selection. Oh, and they also can’t get sleeping sickness if bitten by a tse-tse fly, right? Except on Tuesdays.

The whole idea is extremely stupid. Probably only came up because of the other stupid idea of Warren going around rubbing his blood on people.

I believe the truth of the matter is what others have mentioned, which is that Austen honestly believed that some other writer had established that mutants couldn’t get AIDS and he was just following their lead mistakenly.

I find it deeply weird that Austen felt he needed to set our minds at ease about the possibility of Angel giving people AIDS with his healing blood. That never would have even occurred to me as a possibility if the story didn’t bring it up, but, okay, I can accept that some people would worry about. But … wouldn’t just “Angel doesn’t have AIDS” be enough? I mean, it’s not like the concept of donating blood is unheard of. Hell, it’s HEALING blood – wouldn’t you just assume it would be more likely to cure HIV and AIDS than transmit it?

Can Marvel just retcon Chuck Austen’s entire run? It is amazing the editors let him stay on Uncanny X-Men for as long as they did.

Just curious, why is the idea that a disease can harm mutants but not humans considered okay, but the idea that a disease can harm humans but not mutants considered ridiculous?

I personally find them both to be pointless story ideas, but I’m interested in rationales people have for elevating one over the other.

“Just curious, why is the idea that a disease can harm mutants but not humans considered okay, but the idea that a disease can harm humans but not mutants considered ridiculous?”

I don’t think it’s the concept that’s ridiculous per se, but the fact that Austen used a very real, very deadly virus instead of a fictitious one like the Legacy Virus. (No one reading the comic ever lost a loved one to the Legacy Virus, but I’m sure more than a few lost one to HIV/AIDS…)

Also, the Legacy Virus wasn’t a naturally-occurring virus like AIDS (conspiracy theories notwithstanding); it was artificially created, and designed to specifically target people with a certain genetic property (i.e., mutants and the “X-factor” in their genes). You can get away with a lot more when you’re dealing with a fictional disease that targets fictional attributes, than you can when dealing with real-world conditions, I think.

Really, if there were a story about a virus that was affecting humans but not mutants (which, as I understand it, was what Apocalypse originally intended the Legacy Virus to do until Stryfe altered it?), that would probably be fine, just as long as you’re not using a real disease to do it.

Additionally, there’s the whole offhandedness of it. It’s not really story-relevant, it’s just tossed out as a aside in both instances, and for no particular reason. The idea that mutants can’t get HIV/AIDS doesn’t impact the plots, it’s just an aside to explain that Warren doesn’t need to have his blood tested for HIV/AIDS; having him be tested and the tests be negative would serve the plot just as well.

(I could probably come up with more reasons, but this is turning into an essay as it is, and I think it should suffice to get the point across. I hope.)

GreenLuthor: I see what you mean. I didn’t realize Legacy was artificially created.

Whether it was intended to be or not, the Legacy Virus seemed like a poorly conceived AIDS analogy when it was introduced.

I will add though, if Legacy was artifically created, it was even worse as an AIDS analogue, since AIDS is not considered to be manmade weapon except for conspiracy theorists. And AIDS still isn’t cured. When I say it’s pointless, I mean it’s pointless as social commentary, which is part of the reason I gather it was invented in the first place. As a manmade weapon that was eventually cured, I can’t see how such a storyline would meaningfully explore or spur any thought about AIDS, even by analogy.

Danlarkin – While I was typing my response, you beat me to it lol. But yes, that’s what I mean by both Legacy and Austen’s AIDS plot point seem pointless in that they seem to add nothing but think they’re making some statement about…something.

T.- yeah, and when you throw in the mutants = gays analogy, it became even more problematic and potentially offensive,which they seemed to be aware of so they eventually had Legacy infecting regular humans as well- it was just a poorly-planned mess.

Gee, bad writing and bad artwork, no wonder comic sales overall are so poor.

I recall PAD talking about the Hulk being immune as him wanting to tell a story and bring attention to the AIDS problem, but if you did a story about the Hulk getting AIDS, he’s obviously not going to die from it, because it’s his book, and he’s going to be cured at some point, and as that’s not a possibility for real life sufferers of it, it’d be rather cruel and insensitive to do that story.

Frankly, I see this as just an extension of that. An X-Character is not going to get AIDS and die unless you’re doing a very special episode story….they introduced Angel merging his blood with others to heal, that act is a huge problem especially at the time of the story when AIDS was much more in the news, so they explain away the problem in the least problematic way.

I think people are bagging on the idea unfairly because it’s Austin. If PAD had written it, people would be all for it.

I think the bigger problem is that they decided that Angel could heal with his blood….seriously?

And Austin didn’t do “porn” comics. They were comedy comics with sex in them…I seem to recall one being about cricket…

what was this like 2003? chuck austen, the reason i quit x-men superman avengers and miracleman. i ll start up when vietch takes over, then totleben and buckingham baby!

Travis Pelkie

May 27, 2014 at 10:29 pm

Wasn’t that Annie a nurse (and wasn’t she blonde elsewhere, too?)? So a nurse doesn’t know this, but the doctor a few issues later knows it, and from the discussion with Angel, it shows that it’s known well enough in the Marvel U that Angel might just be some weirdo trying to scam the doctor.

So all that’s stupid too, but if it is the case, wouldn’t some of the genius scientists in the Marvel U be trying to figure out a way to help non-mutants by studying mutants? Jeez.

It’s bad enough to put something dumb in without considering all (or as many as possible) of the consequences of a particular idea. It’s terrible to not consider ANY of the consequences of the idea. Jeez.

Travis, you might as well ask why doesn’t Peter patent and license web formula or why Stark or Reed use their tech make the world a better place. Don’t blame Austin for an idea not being taken to it’s logical conclusions, when that’s the nature of the world he’s writing in.

Travis Pelkie

May 27, 2014 at 11:39 pm

Well, that is true to a degree, certainly.

I guess what I was trying to get at was that if “it’s a mutant thing”, where the X-Men and their allies know that mutants can’t get AIDS, but the public at large isn’t aware (a la the scene above), that’s one thing. But to present it as it is in the later story, the world at large knows. And that presents something entirely different.

But Peter did try selling the web formula early on, and the scientists he took it to didn’t want it because it dissolved in an hour or so. Small minded fools! There would still be uses for it!

At this point it either seems that Paige is speaking the truth or fulfilling the dumb blonde trope of just throwing out a random line to win her argument.

It would have been much better if Angel was just kidding himself, like in the past the people who thought that straight people couldn’t get AIDS and such. Because it’s not like Angel was that bright anyway. I don’t know why anyone would expect the Hulk to be able to get AIDS. I mean, you don’t expect the Hulk to catch the flu, do you? He’s immune to all diseases. It’d be stranger if AIDS was left out.

From the Marvel wiki-

The Hulk has shown a high resistance to physical damage nearly regardless of the cause, and has also shown resistance to extreme temperatures, mind control, nuclear explosions, poisons, and all diseases.

More on Marvel.com: http://marvel.com/universe/Hulk_(Bruce_Banner)#ixzz332TXsyJ3

I think what still really sticks out to me is what is the obsession with so many comic writers having middle aged men dating teenagers? (And does it happen more in X-books?) It’s not like Hollywood doesn’t love their male-female age gap, but they at least stick the older guys with women in their 20’s. They know enough not to try and get away with them dating some teen (or boinking in the air over her mother). It just seems more commonplace in comics than other forms of media. But maybe I just read more comics.

Even in the latest X-Men movie, Mystique is at least supposed to be around Xavier’s age….though the fact that she’s played by someone who is 23 and has two guys in their late 30’s fighting over her in a less than brotherly way was a little icky.

someone who is 23 and has two guys in their late 30?s fighting over her in a less than brotherly way was a little icky.

Really? I think this is just modern American cultural conditioning. That doesn’t seem like that big a deal to me at all.

Remember, the Legacy Virus was introduced 10 years before Austen’s odd HIV/AIDS revelation. At the time, it was going to be developed into an HIV analogue, and mutants were being used as a metaphor for gays. The mutation of the legacy virus to spread to humans represented the fact that HIV/AIDS was not a “gay only” disease.

Fast forward ten years, the Legacy Virus plot had been kindly put to death because the writers didn’t really know what to do with it. By the time of Austen’s offhand comments about AIDS, the Legacy Virus was mercifully forgotten. Austen’s story was totally unrelated and not coexistent with the Legacy Virus story. Essentially, it’s apples and oranges.

Who knows where Austen was going with that. As with most of his run, I’m glad we never found out. I certainly don’t see a lot of good story potential with the mutants can’t get AIDS story, but I’m not a writer.

Me neither T, but I’ve found a number of people find a 10 year gap like that very squicky.

K-Box in the Box

May 29, 2014 at 12:38 pm

“Me neither T, but I’ve found a number of people find a 10 year gap like that very squicky.”

An age gap is not necessarily a bar to a good relationship. Of course, it helps that, in the case of the onscreen Days of Future Past love triangle, all three characters are played by actors who are extremely attractive people regardless of their ages.

In context, though? Yeah, it bugs me. Not to the point that I can single out any one specific older man/younger woman relationship as being creepy (with exceptions including Marv Wolfman’s pairings of Terra and Deathstroke, as well as Terry Long and Donna Troy, because yeah, those were unambiguously creepy), but the overall trend is disturbing, especially since there’s no real equity to it, since you don’t really see a consistent pairing off of older female characters with younger male characters.

I get it that people worry about the power imbalance in such relationships.

But different individuals mature emotionally at different rates. It’s not necessarily true that that guy in his 30s is so much more mature and experienced than that woman in her 20s. Who knows? Maybe they’re more matched personality-wise than the guy would be with a woman in her 30s.

Maybe the guy was an introvert that spent 10 years doing the same thing, while the woman had plenty of diverse life experiences.

To me, the creepy factor only appears when it seems like the guy consciously tries to hook up only with younger women.

I actually find it more worrisome when young couples are the same age. Like two 23 year olds in a serious relationship with plans of getting married. I find women to be way more socially savvy than men from early on while guys on average can be pretty clueless and naive. I think women socially mature faster. I think you’re more likely to get a power imbalance in favor of the woman in the case of the two young people dating. On average I think many guys in their 30s are not that bad a match for women in their 30s maturity wise.

Can’t say it could never work, but where it starts to get bad is when the person you’re dating could actually have been your kid. Especially if you DO have kids that age. There are some that have the maturity to handle it…but more often it’s what do they really have in common other than the physical? One big part of most relationships is shared experiences. And someone who came of age in the 2000’s probably isn’t going to have a lot of similar cultural touchstones as someone who grew up in the 70’s or 80’s.

And in this particular case First Class at least made it seem like Charles and Raven were more brother and sister (with a romantic Beast interest), but DoFP has Charles acting like a love lost puppy (and strangely Beast doesn’t seem to care much). I guess Magneto’s leering comments just carry onto their relationship later. But if if you want an example of people who really don’t have a maturity, age, or time in their life similarities you can look at Jennifer Lawrence who acts all of the age of 23 probably not having a lot of similar tastes as her older co-stars.

I agree that it becomes more difficult when the age gap grows to 20 or 30 years. I am also particularly skeptical of older guys that have been married already divorcing their wives to get the “newer” model.

However, there are cases when two people just click, despite everything. Maybe that is just the romantic in me? Similarity of life experience doesn’t always happens between people with the same age, anyway. Similarity of temperament is far more important, in any long-term relationship, IMO.

But we all agree Paige and Angel was messed up, even if it sometimes works in real life, right?

Comics are so weird. Basically anyone Wolverine hooks up with is a May/December thing, but I don’t think anyone has ever had a problem with his romantic partners.

Yes, definitely. Angel and Paige was so messed up, particularly with Austen writing Paige as a stereotypical lovelorn teen. It would be slightly more acceptable if she were the level-headed, resourceful young woman from GENERATION X.

But even so. The last thing you should do in a comic is pairing up slightly narcissistic playboys like Angel and Iron Man with teenaged girls.

Wasn’t Jono a little bit older than Paige too? Like not much, but I seem to remember him pushing her off for that reason as much as because he was missing a good portion of his face.

Man, had some kick ass visuals when the right artist was handling them.

I had some Gen X preview book Marvel put out that put Chamber at 18 and Husk at 15 or 16, I think. Which is basically something you see in every high school in America.

Can’t say it could never work, but where it starts to get bad is when the person you’re dating could actually have been your kid. Especially if you DO have kids that age.

I agree there.

Comics are so weird. Basically anyone Wolverine hooks up with is a May/December thing, but I don’t think anyone has ever had a problem with his romantic partners.

Yeah, but the thing with Wolverine is that he’s, what, 150 years old or something? There aren’t all that many women around, even in the Marvel universe, who are going to be close to him in age. But he is definitely the exception to the rule.

On the other hand, Warren Worthington or Tony Stark dating teenage girls is just creepy, because there are a hell of a lot of single women closer to them in age.

FWIW, I don’t think ten years for most is THAT big a difference. But it becomes less so with age. Which is why Wolverine generally works. You don’t think too much of a 50 year old guy (or 150 in Logan’s case) dating a 30 year old. But if a 40 year old guy is dating a 20 year old, it looks worse. No one cares about George Clooney dating some 30 something starlet; but if he picked up Jennifer Lawrence, people would get icky about it. If Wolverine decided he was going to date Kitty Pryde, it might only be a 10 year age difference than someone who was 30 or something, but there’s a lot bigger maturity difference between someone 20 and 30 than someone 30 and 40. Besides, for most of that time, Wolverine could only remember his last ten years, so he was basically a man of the present, amiright?

But millionaire playboy Angel and a teen girl was icky in any case. It makes Kitty Pryde and Pete Wisdom look romantic.

“Luis, both women are written very poorly in this scene!”

EVERYTHING is written very poorly in Austen’s comics, but women in particular. They are either:

a) sluts
b) bitches
c) really dumb
d) a combination of the above

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