Marvel has never shied away from social commentary both within its comic book pages and in its cinematic universe—whether it’s the X-Men fighting an allegorical battle for civil rights, Black Panther exploring Pan-Africanism, or Thor offering some much-needed representation for thicc daddies who can get it. Some efforts are less successful than others, but at least there’s the intention.
The latest in Marvel’s well-intentioned stabs at inclusivity are two members of the rebooted New Warriors franchise, first popularized in the ’90s. They are the psychic twins Snowflake, a nonbinary cryokinetic who can create crystallized snowflake-shaped shurikens, and Safespace, “a big, burly, sort of stereotypical jock” with the power to generate pink forcefields to protect others in danger. Check them out below in the lower lefthand corner.
Now. How can I put this gently…?
Snowflake and Safespace? The first thought that comes to mind is, This is sorta lame. The second is, It’s pandering. Diversity should feel natural because it’s part of the real world; this just smacks of trying too hard and yet not hard enough.
But according to Marvel, these kids are just woke as fuuuuuuuuuck and their names are transgressive and ironic:
They’re hyper aware of modern culture and optics, and they see their Super Heroics as “a post-ironic meditation on using violence to combat bullying.” They’re probably streaming this.
“It’s this idea that these are terms that get thrown around on the internet that they don’t see as derogatory,” writer Daniel Kibblesmith further explains. “[They] take those words and kind of wear them as badges of honor… The connotations of the word ’snowflake’ in our culture right now are something fragile, and this is a character who is turning it into something sharp.”
So maybe there’s more to Snowflake and Safespace than meets the eye, or their woefully bad names. And while Kibblesmith is an accomplished writer—Emmy-nominated for his work on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert—one can’t help but wonder if he consulted anyone else in creating these characters. Maybe just a queer person of color in the room who would hear those names and say aloud, “Really?”
Anyway. Check out the trailer for the new New Warriors—featuring Snowflake, Safespace, and a collection of other questionably “woke” characters—below.