Where are all of the queer superheroes?

I’m well known for loving superhero movies, especially anything that’s a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but even in my interminable fangirling, I am able to recognize and acknowledge the flaws of these films. First and foremost, many superhero movies just aren’t that diverse in terms of casting. There are no current MCU movies lead by a woman (or a person of color, for that matter), and the MCU’s main competitor, DC/Warner Brothers, isn’t much better. However, with constant talk of a Black Widow solo film and African-American men cast in major roles in the next Fantastic Four movie, it seems we are slowly inching toward more diverse superheroes. That being said, there is still something missing from the conversation, and that is the topic of queer superheroes.

LGBT people exist in comics just as they do in the real world, but you wouldn’t know it watching a mainstream superhero movie. There have been a few characters in the MCU who are identified as queer in the comics but are not out or acknowledged as such in the movies.

For example, in the Marvel comics, the character Mystique is bisexual and has a significant relationship with another character named Destiny. In fact, Mystique and Destiny were originally meant to be Nightcrawler’s biological parents, but this idea was ultimately abandoned for being too controversial. Compare this to the big screen version of Mystique, who has been in every X-Men movie, and whose sexual orientation, if referenced, is usually in relation to a man and only men.

Victoria Hand, a newer character who is very much an out lesbian in the Marvel comics, appeared on Agents of SHIELD this season, but was quickly killed off without ever coming out. As noted in her MCU Wiki entry, “Had [her sexuality] been addressed on the show, she would’ve been the first confirmed non-heterosexual character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.” Interestingly enough, the actress who played Hand, Saffron Burrows, is openly bisexual.

Finally, if you really want to get down to it, fan favorite Deadpool is quite queer in his respective comics, (see here for a somewhat NSFW if in-depth analysis of his queerness) and he has also been in a major superhero movie — X-Men Origins: Wolverine. However, his characterization was so botched, the erasure of his queer identity is hardly the most egregious thing about his movie portrayal.

Fortunately, a fully realized LGBT superhero might be just around the corner. On the TV show Arrow this season, Black Canary came out as bisexual and shared a kiss with another female character on screen, making her the first confirmed LGBT person in any DC or Marvel television or movie continuity. Ironically enough, Black Canary is not queer in any way in the DC comics, although she is speculated to be.

Furthermore, the DC character Renee Montoya, also known as The Question, has been confirmed as a regular on the new show Gotham, a Batman prequel series. In the comics, Montoya is well known for dating Kate Kane, the current Batwoman and arguably the most famous lesbian in the DC universe. Montoya was created for the show Batman: The Animated Series, but no mention was made of her sexuality. In fact, it was not until the character was a part of the comic book run Gotham Central that she was revealed to be queer. At any rate, I’m holding out hope that Gotham will give her her due as a lesbian.

Likewise, I hope that as my beloved superhero movies and TV shows become more diverse in terms of gender and race, so too will they become more diverse with sexuality. After all, (some) superheroes are queer, and they’re here, so get used to it.

Republished with permission from The Powder Room. Image via comicvine.com. 

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One thought on “Where are all of the queer superheroes?

  1. It is interesting, I think from a cold pragmatic severely risk adverse studio perspective we will be more likely to see LGBTQ characters being portrayed more frequently, and with more prominence, in the medium of television than in movies, though The Winter Solider certainly did have some subtext up in there. There is just too much money on the line for the people in charge to take what they perceive as a financial risk by including GLBTQ characters in any prominent roles in their movie verse’s, side kicks- maybe but never the big hero. It is a sad fact that the bigger the studio the more conservative they get with the choices they make. Though I do think on the big screen we may see something from Marvel Studios before be see anything from DC/Warner Bros, Sony (Spiderman) or FOX (X men/ Fantastic Four), simply because they are a much younger company and have proven themselves willing to take risks in other ways. Though I would be happy if any of those three prove me wrong.

    That said what is showing up in television has been giving me hope that a more representative slate of characters will eventually show up. I really want to see a Young Avengers or Runaways television show, both teams are favorites of mine and dealt with gender and sexuality by not really making a big deal about it and we need more of that. Plus they are great comics with some seriously awesome story lines that would translate really well to other mediums. I am hoping with the longitudinal perspective Marvel Studios seems to have toward their world building we may even get them before I hit retirement.

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