The CW Seed, the network’s streaming website and app, just released the first three episodes of its animated superhero series Freedom Fighters: The Ray, which features the titular, openly gay, solar-powered superhero. Let’s take a look at how CW Seed is handling the first gay superhero in an animated series.
Freedom Fighters: The Ray starts with two Rays, actually
Openly gay actor Russell Tovey voices The Ray, which is interesting because he also played the superhero in Crisis On Earth X, The CW’s recent four-hour superhero TV crossover event. In that portrayal, The Ray was a superhero who’d been imprisoned by Nazis for being gay on Earth-X, a parallel world in which the Nazis won World War II.
In Freedom Fighters: The Ray, we get two Rays: One is a flying, solar-powered, golden helmet-wearing superhero fighting Nazis on Earth-X. The other is a regular 22-year-old guy on Earth-1 (our Earth).
This Ray isn’t a superhero. He works in his city’s fair-housing department and is gay but afraid to act on his same-sex attractions. He hasn’t come out to his conservative parents, and when a friend tries to encourage him to flirt with a dude, Ray shuts down and runs away.
For the first two episodes, we see The Ray and his team of superheroes fighting Nazis on Earth-X. Episode 3, however, cuts to Ray on Earth-1 dealing with the fallout of a greedy politician (named “Donald” in the credits) shutting down the city’s fair-housing department thanks to tax cuts.
Ray’s life is changed when The Ray from Earth-X shows up on Earth-1 and passes along his superpowers to him. The episode ends shortly after that, but it seems like Ray will be destined to become The Ray and fight oppression on Earth-X (maybe even oppose “Donald” eventually).
While we’re excited to see what happens with Freedom Fighters: The Ray (because we’ve never seen an animated series get deep into a character’s homosexuality), Marvel Comics also just announced the 2018 release of Marvel Rising, which is set to feature Marvel’s first animated lesbian superhero, America Chavez (Miss America).
It’s unfortunate that each episode of Freedom Fighters: The Ray only lasts about six-minutes. While the show represents a huge step forward, it’s still in small degrees.
That being said, if lots of people watch Freedom Fighters: The Ray and Marvel Rising, similar gay programming could one day grow into superheroic proportions.