I know I tend to overly favor DC Comics and how I demand others to know it has the best comic characters, but I do honestly enjoy Marvel comics as well. Especially the character Magneto, who holds a special place in my heart. And no, it’s not because he is a bad ass catastrophe level mutant who wields abilities similar to a god on many occasions. It’s because he’s Jewish. Before you react to that sentence just hear me out for a second.
Growing up as an American Jew can be sort of weird at times. You don’t get much of the spirituality or religion. You get forced hebrew school and in a sense New Money American social ideas And a HUGE amount of guilt from your parents to always be up in arms about the Holocaust. I can’t even forget the nights I stayed awake as a kid sad for the great-grandparents, Great Uncles, Great Aunts, and cousins I never got to meet.
Through all the new money flashing, forced hebrew and yiddish, their was a deep collective sadness towards Poland and Austria. How much my grandfather loved his families language and food, but could not stand the topic of loving the country. Even though they were now some of the safest and best places to live for anyone who was of Jewish or an ethnic minority descent.
Add to that this weird forced idealism that a Jewish kid shouldn’t look at the actors who are in the movies, but those who are behind the scenes making it. It’s confusing. I know I am the farthest thing from a walking Jewish stereotype with my purple hair and tiny nose, but I was sad to see that none of the actors Jewish or not seemed to look ‘Jewish’. And when they did it was in comedic roles like Adam Sandler or purposely Jewish themed moments like Barbra Streisand.
It even seemed to extend to comics. DC originally gave us characters like the Atom, Martin Stein (1/2 and the Brain part of Firestorm), and a whole bunch of side characters. Sure, we eventually got Felicity Smoak, Katherine Kane and Harleen Quinzel, but look at the stereotypes here. They are always the brainiac ones, the I freaked out from stress and pressure or the I am liberal about my religion one. I’m not trying to complain about that, because I know I myself push that same stereotype with Jewish characters, but it is frustrating.
Even Marvel started with characters like Justice, Shadowcat and the The Thing. With a character like the The Thing you are literally just making them Jewish for some backstory side credit about diverse city backgrounds. It’s sad. It’s like a super hero can’t be representative of his ethnic/religious background unless they need him to make a point. That they are Pro LGBTQ rights, Islamic anti-terrorism or African American social welfare. These things are of course important, but shouldn’t be the only times a hero is allowed an actual fleshed out identity.
I mean, do people even know Nightwing is part Romani? How about Scarlet Witch and Quick Silver? How about the 1/2 Vietnamese Cheshire? That Talia Ah Ghul is of Chinese and Arab descent? Or that Kyle Rayner is Mexican-Irish and that Arsenal was raised in Navajo traditions?
Sure, Magneto doesn’t scream ‘I AM A JEW’ by any means. And he does exist to push the fact that holocausts leave detrimental effects on a persons psyche, but he was one of the first characters we had to an ideal were he exists as what he is said to be. Magneto is always defined by his cultural background and upraising. It doesn’t just come out in moments to try and move some point, it is just a normal part of him. Being Jewish is no different then his eye color or dorky helmet.
As a kid, I loved that and was drawn to it. I couldn’t help, but say Marvel did what DC could not do with him: create an actual human character as a superhero. Because Magneto is not anywhere close to perfect, and finds himself filled with character flaws, he seems actually the most representative of his ethnic identity.
If I could know more about Marvel and write a Fan Fiction or anything similar to it, it would have to be about him. For being a good character. A character that showed a little girl that being Jewish in comics meant more then being the side character, the brainiac character or the casually mentioned off topic background sub plot character. Magneto was an inspiration.
It’s time to get on it DC. Give the people what they want. Let them actually have Romani representation for Nightwing or Arab representation for Talia Ah Ghul. They don’t have to be pale or African American to sell well. There exists in-between shades, I assure you.
Watching the Gifted,