The big comic book news this week is that Batman’s sidekick Tim Drake — the current Robin, in case you aren’t up on the incredibly convoluted lore of Bat-pals — is bisexual. And on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Thursday, show writer Louis Virtel weighed in on that big announcement, the history of queer comic characters and the sexual orientation of a classic Bat-villain.
First, if you want to know more, you can read a breakdown here. Now back to Louis Virtel, who is also well known as a comedian and a former “Jeopardy!” contestant. He talked about it during a segment called “Virtel It Like It Is,” during guest host Sarah Silverman’s monologue.
“Robin: Bisexual. If this rocked you to your core, I don’t know what to tell you. You’re like one of those housewives in the ‘50s who saw Liberace and thought, ‘He’s got a cape, a feathered headdress, and once he has a Christian wife, he’ll have everything!’” Virtel began.
“It was always leading up to this. Since the ‘60s, Robin hasn’t had much of a personality besides tight clothing and shaving his thighs, and frankly I feel seen. That was the Dick Grayson Robin. Here’s a picture of Robin in his current incarnation, Tim Drake,” he continued. “Remember when superheroes used to look like gods to us? Now they look like any Peloton instructor named Shane.”
“OK, there aren’t a lot of gay superheroes but a lot of superheroes are gay icons. Like Aquaman. You can’t tell from this photo, but he’s helping thousands of gay tweens through puberty at this very moment,” Virtel joked.
Virtel then listed several gay superheroes, before adding: “My favorite queer superhero is Cobweb, from the ‘Tomorrow Stories’ series. Here’s her only superpowers — not making this up — 1) allure, and 2) making an entrance. Neither of those are superpowers. That’s just Beyoncé at the Soul Train Awards. And there should be comic books about that!”
“Frankly, I’m glad Batman was so accepting of Robin,” Virtel said as he wound the bit down. “He watched his parents get murdered while holding theater tickets. That sounds like the origin story for world’s gayest supervillain.”
“But Robin’s out and now there’s a chance we’ll get interesting gay storylines from one of the biggest comic book characters of all time: Will he date lots of guys? Get catfished on Grindr by the Penguin? Make the mistake of spending $500 to see Madonna in concert even though she never performs ‘Lucky Star’ anymore? Only time will tell, but Robin, welcome to the fold,” Vitel said.
“And Riddler, baby, if you wanna talk, I’m here.”
Watch the whole monologue above. Virtel’s bit begins about five minutes in.