We all have a favorite character growing up, that one and only, that pop culture icon we looked up to and imitate and maybe like to believe we could be one day, dressing up for Halloweens and conventions. For many it’s a Batman or a Wolverine, a Superman or a Wonder Woman, these days even some Captain Marvels and Captain Americas to boot.
For me, it was Rogue. She always has been – and always will be – my very favorite in all the comic universe. That one individual I idolized and adored, and sometimes wished I could be. One who has endured well into my adult years as a favorite. Even though my wish-fulfillment has faded with age she remains, for me, something of a spirit animal.
I was first introduced to her through the 90s X-Men Animated Series, what remains one of the very best cartoon adaptations of a comic book franchise, even to this day. It offers a fantastic crash-course in X-Men lore, working off a near-perfect roster of primary heroes and villains, all the while delving further and further into the complex X-Men universe. It’s also justly credited as doing much to introduce the franchise more into the mainstream beyond the nerdy comic book fans.
And Rogue was my favorite, from very early on. More than just about any member of the cast, she was fun. Jean and Storm (both iconic characters better represented elsewhere) veer toward melodramatic. And Jubilee is an exhausting teenager. But Rogue, with all her sass and her sentinel-punching prowess, is a joy.
The comics boast an extensive and rich backstory for the character, one built on her early history as a villain, a complex history with Carol Danvers, an even more complex relationship with Mystique, and a powerset that is arguably one of the most interesting and relatable among the mutant class, truly epitomizing many of the X-Men’s core themes. Yet in the face of that, Rogue has always been more than just her angst-driven powers. And over the years, as my interest in comics has waxed and waned, I can always guarantee that if I see Rogue on the cover, I will pick up and read.
Unfortunately, the Fox X-Men films did the character no favors. In stark contradiction to the sassy heavy-hitter of the team, Bryan Singer and company translated her into a meek and shy teenager who allows herself to be defined by her powers, and hardly has any personality whatsoever. In many respects, they gave her what should’ve been a Jubilee plotline (father-daughter connection with Wolverine) but instead attached Rogue because her powers were needed for the story.
Then to make matters worse, she spends the climax of the first film the ultimate helpless victim. Years ago, I read an early draft (whose sources and legitimacy I cannot verify) in which Rogue, in sharp contrast to waiting around waiting to be rescued, swiped Mystique’s powers and played a more active role at the end of the story. Oh that the films would’ve been more willing to work with her there.
It didn’t get much better. The second film whittled her down to Iceman’s love interest, and the third film saw her voluntarily give up her powers so she wouldn’t lose her boyfriend to Kitty Pryde. It was the ultimate disservice. An ugly, unworthy interpretation of one of the most selfless and complex members of the entire X-Men universe.
What’s worse is that going forward, she’s essentially disappeared from venues altogether. Aside from a brief appearance (and re-cut) for Days of Future Past she’s completely slipped off the X-Men radar. And with Marvel moving further away from X-Men in the comics (as a result of not holding the film license) Rogue’s own usage followed suit. I feel a gut punch every time I see anyone listing off characters they most hope to see in these new universes going forward and Rogue is not included. I truly worry that this character – a long-time A-lister of X-Men, and easily one of Marvel’s best female characters – may be forgotten in all the fray.
If there’s one thing I hope for from the new, post-Tony Stark, post-Steve Rogers MCU going forward, it’s a good and proper Rogue. One that will live up to all the wish-fulfillment and idealization I had for her as a 10 year-old. One that finally does service to a character I’ve so loved in the way that others like Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman, Gal Gadot, and Ryan Reynolds have done for theirs.
There’s even good precedent for it. One need only do a quick internet search to explore the rich history between Rogue and Carol Danvers. One in which they are often rivals, without either of them ever truly being enemies. They could likely never be friends. But it would be tough to classify either as a bad guy. And if Marvel wanted to put a female relationship front and center akin to the Stark/Rogers dynamic, this could be a great option.
While I know it could be years before we even see mutants in the MCU, this still draws my concern. So all I ask of Kevin Feige and his many, many cohorts is, in the grand scheme of this massive universe, not to forget Rogue. And please, oh please, finally give her casting and writing that does justice to a character so well-devised, delightful, and so dang fun in the comics.