Is Queer Representation on the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Horizon?
What’s that light in the distance? Could it be nothing more than the bright blast of blue from one of Tony Stark’s Iron-Man suit’s repulsors? Perhaps it’s just a gleam of a sunbeam caught on the edge of Captain America’s Vibranium shield. Or maybe it’s a fierce lightning storm, shot down from the high heavens of Asgard above. But wait, could it actually be something else entirely? That light off in the distance, some glimmer of hope, might possibly be the new dawn of solid queer representation finally finding its footing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The eagerness to see quality queer representation reflected back at us through the mirrors of prominent film and television mediums only grows stronger with passing days. And with superhero movies being such a huge staple in our lives, with handfuls of new action-packed superhero flicks crashing into our theaters throughout the years, it’s not exactly surprising that we’ve all been asking the same resounding question: “where is all of the minority representation”?
With the amazing record-breaking last year success of Black Panther and DC’s success with Wonder Woman back in 2017, it’s become glaringly obvious that the once inescapable excuse- “if a superhero movie focuses itself around a character that isn’t a white male, it won’t do well at the box office”- just isn’t as true as people might have originally thought. And as a result, it’s not exactly surprising that the movie studios that handle our great superhero epics have finally started to realize that minorities are here— waiting to find representation on the big screen, just like everybody else.
Marvel’s first female superhero lead MCU movie—Captain Marvel, staring Brie Larson as the titular character—drops Friday, March 8th, 2019. And despite the fact that online trolls attempted to target Captain Marvel’s Rotten Tomatoes score with pre-release negative reviews, the Marvel milestone is allegedly expecting a phenomenal superhero landing at the box office. And if Captain Marvel has even an ounce of the magic that has been blessed upon the majority of the other films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about.
These progressive footsteps in the right direction towards a more diverse world of superheroes certainly have the world of fans excited, but it also happens to pose one very specific question: what about queer representation in the MCU? Well, for as long as the MCU has been up and running, the only queer representation we’ve been afforded have been in the Marvel television and Netflix shows. Unfortunately, nothing concrete has really found its way into the big screen movies, unless you count the deleted confirmation of Valkyrie’s bisexuality in Thor: Ragnarok and the fact that Loki is technically pansexual and genderfluid in the comics.
Marvel’s Netflix series Jessica Jones had the character of Jeri Hogarth, who was explicitly stated and shown to be a lesbian, but that show was just recently cancelled along with the other Marvel shows that once called Netflix home. The first season of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (2013-14) had occasional appearances from Victoria Hand, who was canonically a lesbian, but she was eventually killed off. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D also had the character of Joey Gutierrez, a canonically gay character, in the show’s third season (2015-2016).
Now, in contrast to the movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, 20th Century Fox’s Deadpool (2016) and Deadpool 2 (2018) showcase the canonically pansexual, morally-grey, anti-hero titular character in all of his crude glory… the only problem is that his canon comic sexuality isn’t explicitly stated within either of the films. The same could be said for Fox’s plethora of X-Men movies and their treatment of Mystique’s canon comic bisexuality. Deadpool’s sequel, however, does feature two queer supporting characters— Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and her girlfriend, Yukio (Shiori Kutsuna).
So, where does this all leave us at the moment as far as queer representation stepping itself into the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Well, according to ThatHashtagShow, last week it was reported that Marvel is looking to cast an openly gay lead for the planned The Eternals movie. Now, this doesn’t necessarily promise anything, but it’s certainly something important that shouldn’t go unnoticed. A gay male lead in a Marvel superhero movie would be a monumental step forward on the path of diversifying the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That kind of queer representation would certainly pack enough of a punch to open more doors in future Marvel projects.
By far, one of these doors might possibly be the Young Avengers. Again, nothing is confirmed, although there are certain elements and ingredients lining up for the potential for something with the Young Avengers to happen. And boy, would that be something to set your eyes on. In fact, the Young Avengers is one of Marvel’s most diverse and unexplored avenues. The queer representation in that one superhero group alone is enough to give a reader whiplash.
Out of the original roster for the Young Avengers team, the characters of Wiccan (Billy Kaplan) and Hulkling (Theodore “Teddy” Altman) are both canonically gay. Kid Loki (Loki), is another character that is part of the team for a while, and as I previously said, Loki is canonically pansexual and genderfluid in the realm of comics. Eventually, characters like Miss America (America Chavez), a Latin-American lesbian character and Prodigy (David Alleyne) an African-American bisexual character join the team as well.
But let’s talk about why something might be brewing with the Young Avengers in the MCU.
To start with, the character of Scott Lang was introduced into the cinematic universe with Ant-Man (2015) and it’s revealed that he has his daughter, Cassie Lang. In the Young Avengers, Cassie eventually goes onto join the youngster superhero team under the codename, Stature, whilst utilizing the same kind of growth powers that her father uses. And apparently, it’s been reported than an older version of Cassie will appear somewhere within Avengers: Endgame.
Secondly, Hulkling (Teddy Altman) is the son of Mar-Vell (a member of the Kree species and the first one to use the superhero moniker: Captain Marvel) and Anelle (a Skrull Princess). What’s interesting is that the Kree and the Skrull are both alien races that will canonically exist within the realm of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, come Friday when Captain Marvel is released in theaters. The Kree were introduced back during the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (2013-14) and the theatrical trailers for Captain Marvel show that the Skrulls are officially an antagonistic obstacle force within the soon-to-be released film.
Thirdly, Wiccan (Billy Kaplan) is actually one of the long lost twin sons of Scarlet Witch and Vision. In the comics, Scarlet Witch uses her powers to warp reality and create two twin boys. But unfortunately, she is not allowed to keep them and they are reincarnated into Billy Kaplan and Thomas Shepherd (Wiccan and Speed). What’s interesting about this is that there were actually rumors of a casting call that called for two twin boys for Avengers: Endgame, which was posted about by fellow Geekiary author and contributor, Farid in 2017. Furthermore, it has been confirmed that a series, The Vision and Scarlet Witch, will be developed for Disney’s new streaming service.
With that, it’s incredibly possible that the tides are changing for queer representation. Marvel is such a powerhouse when it comes to the production and release of theatrical thrills, so naturally, eyes are on them for what they do with diversity. With such a wide array of potential story-lines and characters to develop within the cinematic universe, it’s only a matter of time before one of those characters is canonically queer—front and center—in one of the box office hits that we’ve all seen Marvel score before.
What do you guys think? Is a new age of representation coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Are you hopeful? Are you keeping your hopes settled at a moderate level? Or are they through the roof? Let me know what you think.
Rodney is finishing up his last semester at university to attain his B.A in English Literature. Aspiring to one day write television shows and novels, he’s an avid slash-shipper and enthusiast for all things gay. Rodney’s especially a lover of magic, mystery, and superheroes—holding Harry Potter, the X-Men, and Scooby-Doo close as his own personal favorites. But when he’s not fantasizing about how cool it would be to have magic, he’s busy writing fanfiction and re-watching old TV shows.
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