Polaris and future challenges

I plan to make this type of post only once. We’ll see if I need to make it again.

We’re on the cusp of some very good things for Polaris/Lorna Dane. She’s about to star in Gifted, played by a highly enthusiastic actress. She might have a shot at more of a comic book presence. Next year is the 50th anniversary of her creation. Within all of that, millions of people worldwide will finally find out she exists.

With everything coming, it would be very easy to think she has it made. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. She’s in the spotlight. That means there are a lot of forces in play that have been quieter or dormant for the past 8 years that are going to come out of the woodwork.

People who are genuinely fans of Polaris are going to have to be more vigilant than ever as we head into her promising future. If we’re not vigilant, her moment in the spotlight can be used to ruin her.

Fandom Gatekeeping

I’ve warned before about the toxicity of fandom gatekeeping. This is where someone tries to keep people out of the fandom so they get to assert dominance. They have a very specific interpretation of the character, and anything that even remotely deviates from it is not permitted in their eyes.

I’m not talking about “I don’t like that character in a romance with Polaris.” I mean things like “Polaris HAS to date this one specific character, she can’t date any other characters, you have to go along with me on this attitude.” That’s what fandom gatekeeping is: it’s saying a character has to be restricted in their options to only what you, personally, want.

A person could genuinely mean well while holding this attitude, and not realize they’re hurting Lorna’s potential. The point is fandom gatekeeping would keep Lorna from trying new things, developing new relationships, etc. It has to be challenged when seen.

“Fans”

Now that Polaris is becoming popular, a phenomenon that used to be fairly dormant is now in sharp rise: people of other characters that pretend to be fans of Polaris.

This is going to take some explanation for people not familiar with comic books.

Comic book fandom often sees the spotlight as a limited capacity thing, especially when it comes to female characters. Female characters in comic books are traditionally considered a “one or two allowed only, the rest are nobodies” thing. If a female character is in the spotlight, then the belief is that she needs to be either exploited or kicked out of the spotlight.

I’ll delve into each variety now.

Exploitation: In the exploitation variant, the “fan” sees Polaris as a way to boost the prestige of their own favorite character. This is not the same thing as seeing potential in a relationship and wanting it explored. This is where the fan of the other character pretends to be a fan of Polaris for the express purpose of making Polaris’ entire identity revolve around their ACTUAL favorite character. By demoting Lorna from unique character to their favorite character’s second, they get their favorite into the position Polaris was in – at her expense. Her stories and exploration of her character get destroyed in favor of putting this other character on a pedestal.

Kicked out: In the kicked out variant, the “fan” sees Polaris as a rival for a position only one can have. Their goal in pretending to be a fan of Polaris is to kill off all possible story branches for her until there’s nothing left. “I don’t want to see Polaris as Genosha survivor explored” “I don’t want to see her dealing with trauma” “Lorna should spend more time on fights and less on spouting exposition and her views” and so on. Eventually she’s so deprived of who she is that she’s kicked out of the spotlight for another character – ideally their actual favorite – to take her place.

Marvel sabotaging Fox

The Gifted is a joint venture between Marvel and Fox. That should insulate it from a lot of the risk… but things can change. And Marvel publishing is not Marvel TV.

Marvel corporate hates that Fox has the film rights to the X-Men franchise. I won’t get into exhaustive detail here, but the point is, they don’t really want Fox to have a lot of success or get any good ideas to pursue without Marvel. That could lead to Marvel trying to sabotage Polaris in their own work – comic books, video games, cartoons, etc.

Take Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Fox and Marvel both have the film rights to both characters. Marvel decided to pull a forced retcon on Wanda and Pietro in the comics to suddenly make them not Magneto’s kids anymore. In other words, Marvel was trying to cut them off from Magneto, who ties them to the X-Men franchise, and make them exclusively Avengers characters.

Marvel might try to pull something similar with Lorna. She’s always been an X-Men exclusive character, so there’s no changing that. What they might try to do, though, is make her look terrible in their own work while insisting their version is the “real” Polaris that Fox should be conforming to.

Lack of crucial voices

This is a very important one that often gets overlooked.

There are creative minds at Fox and Marvel who truly want to do well by Polaris. Some know her history well, some don’t. Some have known her for decades, some found out she existed this year.

In all cases, they need fan feedback. They need to know what’s working, what isn’t working, what you want to see and what you don’t want to see. They need to know this information to know how to develop her and really get the most out of her potential.

More importantly, people in all three above categories are talking too. Polaris is in the spotlight. People who don’t want her to succeed, or who want her to fit a specific idea of who she should be, are going to be talking a hell of a lot from here on out. They’ll be trying to convince these creative minds to take certain directions with Lorna.

Speak up. Say what you think. If you don’t, and enough people say the exact opposite of what you want to see, there’s a very good chance the creative minds will do precisely what you don’t want them to do. They listen to the voices they hear. They can’t listen to people who never speak up.

I think this is all the crucial categories. I’ll add if I missed any. Be aware that as much as we’re loving everything that’s happening for Lorna, there are people who hate it with a burning passion. There are people who want to exploit her for their own interests. There are people who mean well but don’t see problems for what they are.

Don’t just sit back and assume everything is perfect from here on out. Be ready to step up when necessary. Otherwise she might get screwed over – and it might last decades, possibly forever.