CW Seed Introduces First Gay Superhero Lead

The CW has announced the second of its animated CW Seed superhero shows will be called Freedom Fighters: The Ray. The show will focus on hero Raymond “Ray” Terrill, drawing inspiration from Grant Morrison’s Multiversity series at DC Comics in which Ray is gay, according to ComicsBeat. As such, Freedom Fighters: The Ray will be the first superhero show with a gay lead.

What is the New CW Seed Series About?

Freedom Fighters: The Ray is the second animated superhero show to debut on CW Seed after Vixen. Like the earlier series, Freedom Fighters is considered part of the CW’s Arrowverse and will be executive produced by writers and producers Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim.

The show will tell the story of Ray Terrill, a journalist who obtains light-based superpowers after being exposed to a “genetic light bomb.” The hero, now known as the Ray, teams up with superhero group the Freedom Fighters, who “fight violence and oppression wherever it exists.”

Although Freedom Fighters will be using Grant Morrison’s version of the Ray, it’s unknown if the Multiversity series will also inspire the show’s plot and world. Mastermen, the issue of Multiversity in which the Freedom Fighters appear, took place in a world where the Nazis won World War II and heroes like Superman were influenced by them. However, since the show is supposed to fit in the Arrowverse, it’s likely it won’t retain all of these elements.

Grant Morrison cw seedThe role of the Ray has not yet been cast, but the CW is looking for an actor to both voice the character and play him in any live-action appearances, exactly like Megalyn Echikunwoke did for Vixen.

“We want that performer, his voice, to be as part of the live action,” said CW president Mark Pedowitz at the Television Critics’ Association press tour. The CW isn’t limiting their options, indicating the Ray could appear in any or all of their four Arrowverse shows.

Why Is CW Seed Focusing on the Ray?

Arguably the most important aspect of the Ray in Morrison’s Multiversity series – the fact that he is a gay man – will be retained for Freedom Fighters: The Ray. The CW Seed description of the show notes that Morrison “updated the Freedom Fighters to better reflect American demographics,” inspiring the series and focus on the Ray as the first gay superhero lead.

Previously featured LGBT characters on Arrowverse shows have included Sara Lance, Nyssa al Ghul, Curtis Holt, Hartley Rathaway a.k.a. Pied Piper, and Central City Police Department captain David Singh. However, none of these characters are considered leads.

A gay man himself, Greg Berlanti talked to the Advocate last year about LGBT inclusiveness in the superhero genre. He said, “The next step is to add a regular character, not just a recurring one, who is openly gay on the next round of these shows, because I think that’s important and I’d like to do that in the next year.”

When Freedom Fighters: The Ray premieres in 2017, the CW will move one step closer toward inclusivity on television, a move that Berlanti considers extremely important for LGBT teens watching his shows.

He told the Advocate about seeing gay characters on TV during his youth, saying, “I can remember when there were storylines with gay characters on shows like Family and Dynasty and thinking, ‘I have something in common with that person.’ This was way before the internet and all the visibility that has brought with it. But back then, you really felt alone and when I saw those characters on TV, I knew I wasn’t alone.” 

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About the author

Kali O’Rourke

watches more television than anyone she's ever met. Luckily, this has so far served her well in her dream of becoming a television writer. In addition to showing off her knowledge of movie and TV trivia, she enjoys reading, listening to show tunes, and counting down to next Halloween.

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