Tuesday, April 14, 2015

X-Position: G. Willow Wilson Illuminates "The Burning World" in "X-Men"

CBR: With "X-Men" #26 scheduled for release on April 29, G. Willow Wilson returns to X-POSITION to answer your questions on her problems with Psylocke's body-switching, the X-Men franchise's track record of depicting female superheroes, who she'd like to write in a solo series and what Dazzler will bring to "A-Force," set to debut in May and co-written by Wilson and Marguerite Bennett.

You've expressed in social media your desire to put Psylocke back in her original body. I've always felt uncomfortable watching a white woman wearing an Asian body and I'm glad a writer acknowledges it. Can you share your opinions on it and why do you feel it is important minority characters are represented accurately?

I think it's important to acknowledge that people's experiences are not interchangeable, especially when it comes to race and ethnicity. If you're going to drop a white character into an Asian body, I think it behooves you to explore how that character's life would change -- how she would be treated socially, how she would deal with microaggression, how this might alter her perceptions about the world. If you take a story in that direction, you've gotta do the work. Otherwise it's just tokenism. However, since I'm just here for four issues, I didn't feel I had the space or the prerogative to move things around significantly, so I didn't really touch on the Psylocke race issue. If I was the ongoing series writer, however, I would seriously consider making a change.

Now that your run on "X-Men" is coming to an end, why do you think the X-Men's female characters stand out in comic books as opposed to female characters in other franchises who just end up being female derivatives of their male counterparts?

The X Men have always led the field when it comes to the depiction of female superheroes. Maybe because it's a book about dealing with difference, and also breaking down difference -- the characters are united because they are all mutants in a world that hates them, but as individuals, they are profoundly different. That's fertile ground for great character work. Storm, Rogue, Jubilee, Jean Grey, Rachel Grey -- they've all historically had both very close friendships and very believable tension. I think that's why they resonate with so many people in a way that spin-off characters might not.

Was it difficult to write Psylocke, Rachel, and Monet due to their similar power sets? Was it a personal decision to show how different telepathy and telekinesis is based upon the user?

Yes, it was difficult. I really struggled with ways to make them all remain distinctive, power-wise. In the end, though, those similarities are going to help them out significantly -- I won't say how!


Rahsaan Chisolm said...

Precisely. Insightful answer.

Vince Lex said...

@Rahsaan... I agree with Wilson. I think that it is about tokenism, even back then, when Claremont decided to switch Betsy from Caucasian to Asian...I don't think that there was a strong Asian woman character back then in the Marvel Universe, and Claremont probably saw an opportunity.

Still, I don't think that writers should dwell too much on a character's perception of themselves. The internal struggle is interesting, but then it gets too dramatic/or turn into a soap opera. I think Claremont has done Psylocke justice with the whole "I can hardly recognized myself in the mirror " thing right after her transformation (she was doubting herself a lot back then). What is done is done, and characters and writers should move, rather than go back and make Psylocke re-evaluate her personality from a 'racial' standpoint.

Brunch on Sundays said...

I agree. Let's move on.

FSaker said...

While I agree with Wilson, the idea of putting Betsy back in her original body - or even of exploring how she views herself and how the world starts seeing her after the body swap - should have been executed long ago. I feel it would be quite pointless and confusing to do it now.

Although, if there's one writer at Marvel nowadays who could do it right, it would be Wilson (...and Hickman, but he seems more interested in killing alternate Psylockes than in working with the main one), so who knows... if the X-Women book still exists after Secret Wars and if Wilson is still in charge of it, I trust she would do a nice work with her idea.

Tazirai said...

I would hope Wilson would continue, and had made the change, possibly bring back Kwannon, and be done with the whole mess. I don't think it would be confusing at all. I think the only people confused by Psylocke are those who only see/want half nekkid hot ninja chick. Even when people go see Munn in the movies, she'll register as White. So the majority of the movie goers 70% or so would have no clue about the change back and forth.

I do wish things were corrected if only that she would be more Braddockish to me, and they could hang more. i'm a Braddock family nerd, and would like to see Kwannon brought into the fold as another sister. Explore a TRUE Asian womans world. There were so many ways that they could have done things back then. it was a flub on All parties involved. I do think wilson will get her wish one day. Maybe we'll get a true asian woman, with actual connections to China or Japan as a top billed heroine.

Many of todays writers are amazing, so it can be done. Psylocke is popular yes, no where near a Storm or Emma or Jean, but up there. She peaked in the 90's and Early 2000's. Now is as good a time as any to correct the racial thing. At least to me.

Rahsaan Chisolm said...

Brunch, Vince and Lex, you all make valid points save for the one that I think
Vince or Brunch said in the previous thread about Bets choosing her Asian body over her Caucasian one. That's not quite true. She 's only been presented with the choice twice, by Jamie and Cassandra... one of whom was as mad as a hatter and being controlled by an evil entity and the other who was an evil entity. And both times, she would have sent people to their doom, so she choose to sacrifice what she wanted to save people. Not exactly a fair, uncoerced choice. And clearly not what she wanted as shown in both situations.

Tazirai, I agree with you on all points, including the confusion. I don't think anyone would be confused. Especially, since she is commonly know as Blond Brian's twin sister... I agree with alll your points save for bringing back Kwannon. She is superfluous... a plot device in a bad retcon by hacks... and should never be referenced again. It Marvel wants to write compelling story for an Asian woman, how about writing for ones we actually care about such as Jubileee, Karma or Armor to name a few? Psylocke should not be a token in the wrong body and Kwannon should stay dead as doornail.

All of you, I do enjoy our debates. We all seem to love this character, so please don't take anything I said in offense. I do love the community here.