Appearances vs Sincerity

I think people as a whole are becoming increasingly aware of how doing something purely to project the appearance of good values and intent is not as good as actually, sincerely having those values.

When the goal is to do something purely for the sake of appearances, then any work toward that end stops as soon as it’s deemed “enough.” It’s only done as a form of protection against anyone saying it’s not being done. “See, I said I support this cause, I said a lot of nice things about it that one time a few years ago so I’m good.”

When something happens sincerely, though, it’s self-generating toward better for the future. Actions and statements grow organically not from a desire to look good, but a desire to BE good. The difference is important.

Most of Marvel’s behavior regarding Polaris for the past decade has been, I think, about the appearance of doing “enough” for her rather than sincerely wanting to do enough for her. And I think the deterioration of Marvel’s treatment of her since 2015 is a vivid sign of this. Because if they were sincere, they would have spent the past 5 years improving their treatment of her instead of what we’ve seen.

In the early 2010s, there were a lot of things that fans wanted. Lorna brought back from space exile. Lorna confirmed to be a mutant again. Lorna confirmed as Magneto’s daughter (something that had gone untouched for 10 years at that time). Lorna’s origin story told. Lorna leading a team.

From 2012 to 2015, Marvel provided these things, and they were for the most part good.

They did have problems – which I ranted about at the time, and I think I was perfectly fair to rant about.

Her origin story getting told had no promotion, and the arc ended with basically an excuse for Lorna to not interact with her father anymore afterward. All-New X-Factor also never really got any promotion, issue 4-6 treated her poorly (heavily leaning toward acting like Gambit was the real team leader and Lorna’s a member of his team), and various issues besides. And outside of those things, we had projects tied to the Avengers trying to exclude Lorna from the Magnus family, and trying to replace her with other women for a sister role or visual counterpart in Wanda’s life.

But, in spite of those problems, X-Factor #243 did tell her origin story. All-New X-Factor had her leading a team, and let her interact with her siblings. Secret Wars provided Lorna in a great role for her (albeit at times not doing right for Pietro and Magneto) in its House of M, and various other appearances. We also had appearances and acknowledgments otherwise, such as with Savage Hulk going back to Hulk’s first run-in with the X-Men and showing Lorna present.

Then we had a decline after 2015.

She was in limbo for two years (or one and a half, if you count Deadpool and the Mercs for Money). When she returned, it had the APPEARANCE of a big return for her, but in reality she was used to promote Havok and Magneto. On Blue, she led another team, but purely as a backup for the main team and in service to the very Havok-oriented story.

She had good scenes in the Uncanny X-Men event, which was good as she hadn’t been included in a major event in over a decade. But then Prisoner X saw her serving as a supporting character for essentially Bishop’s book. Now, I’ve heard she was written well on it, but “supporting character on Bishop’s book” when the book comes off aesthetically very inspired by Gifted’s usage of Lorna in prison is a backstep to me. Especially when it’s more of a side story.

Then House of X, Powers of X, and X-Men #1 happened.

HoX really only used her as something Magneto could spout exposition to. X-Men #1 only really used her so readers could connect with Cyclops. The only thing “Lorna” about that exchange was a reminder that she’s dated Havok, which in this scenario is the absolute last thing that has any bearing for Lorna.

She’s a survivor of Genosha who was respected by millions and seen as his heir, and she was the one who launched Krakoa into space in Giant-Size X-Men after getting powered up by Storm, Cyclops and Havok. Is that history really worth nothing, especially when other characters like Storm get to be mad about what happened on Genosha despite not personally going through the trauma of it like Lorna has?

Consider that with Marvel’s behavior since. She’s been absent from anything for a year. She wasn’t included on an X-women variant cover, despite there being plenty of room to add her, and other women like Dani Moonstar and Magik included. She’s not on the Quiet Council. She’s not considered Omega even though Magneto is, and various past books have said or implied she either has the potential to surpass him (earlier stories), is already his equal (The Twelve), or has already surpassed him (Genosha, albeit as his powers were weakening).

When she was finally announced on a book, that book turned out to be… X-Factor. The same title name she was on in the 90s. Except this time, she’s not even leading it. She’s a member of this team someone else is leading. And the only thing really mentioned about Lorna in all talk for the book so far is essentially “she dated Havok.”

No mention of Genosha. Or Krakoa. Or being the second woman to join the X-Men. Or even having gone into space on a team with Rachel prior to this. The only thing mentioned is that she was in a relationship with the only man Marvel’s ever allowed her to date in her entire existence (whereas Marvel’s allowed Havok to have an ongoing thing with a different woman every decade, most recently with Wasp).

This is the break down of appearances when there is no sincerity. People at Marvel believe they “did enough” for Lorna when they told her origin story and let her lead a team. It doesn’t matter to them that they sabotaged her chances of those things really getting attention and meaning anything big for her. To them, those few acts even in a void are sufficient for them to go back to treating her as poorly as they did before. To them, those few things that should have happened DECADES ago are something they can point to and say “See, we respect the character, we did these things for her so you should be happy and stop expecting so much.”

That’s a false argument. It implies that Lorna deserves to be treated poorly. That she deserves to be undermined, have her potential squandered, have the important things about her history and their gravity completely ignored by this company. It’s an argument that tries to proclaim that negative bias against the character is supposed to be the norm, that negative views of the character are the “right” way to look at her, and expecting the common decency of due respect and catching up on things that should’ve happened for her a long ass time ago is somehow pushing the boundaries of fair request.

To people at Marvel, Lorna is a D-list or lower character who barely qualifies as a character and wastes panel space.

To me, Lorna is an amazing character that’s supposed to be A-list but keeps getting treated like she isn’t because people at Marvel put their personal biases above what’s right. Starting in the 70s and continuing to today, with rare exceptions.

If Marvel had been sincere in trying to treat Lorna well, and do well with their work as a whole, then Lorna’s history would mean something. She would have a huge voice when it comes to Genosha. The fact she launched Krakoa into space would at least get mentioned. She would be acknowledged as a meaningful woman within the X-Men franchise when they do things like the X-women variant cover.

The lack of these things tells us there is no sincerity from Marvel. Anything they say that sounds good is about appearances, not a genuine desire to do well with what they have and improve upon their past.

This is why I do not trust Marvel. To date, what I have seen from Marvel is that they’re only concerned with putting on the appearance of caring, and don’t actually care about her at all. And don’t want to. Because they undoubtedly think any attempt to understand and empathize on the character is wasted time they could be putting into “characters that matter” in their eyes.

It’s not like this is the only place where we see Marvel, or Disney, saying and doing things for the sake of appearances that it’s clear they’re not sincere about. A commonly observed issue with Disney as a whole is how they keep getting credit for introducing the “first openly gay character” in their films every year, and it’s always something like two extras kissing in the background of a scene for 2 seconds.

This post is mainly for me to vent. But if it’s being read, the main takeaway I’d like to give is to watch for the difference between a company saying or doing something because they want to put on a good appearance for PR reasons, and a company saying or doing something because they sincerely believe in it and want to do good.

The cases where it’s for appearances tend to go nowhere, get sabotaged constantly, and end as soon as the company thinks they’ve done enough to get away with not doing any more.

The cases that are sincere will happen regardless of perceived PR value. Characters will get much needed progress even if they personally don’t like the character or think it won’t sell or make the company look better. It won’t matter how “obscure” a character is, they’ll still be considered deserving of better.

That wraps up this rant.

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