It’s no secret around here that I love 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 showArrow 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 has already appeared in a few of the Batman animated series, but she was not acknowledged as being queer. Recognition of Montoya’s sexuality in the animated shows might have been omitted because the programs were aimed at children, but I’m holding out hope 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.
Top image of DC characters Kate Kane and Renee Montoya via comicvine.com.