Disney's Gay Characters May Grow Thanks to Marvel's Phase 4 Queer Awakening – CBR – Comic Book Resources

The Marvel Cinematic Universe could be the solution to helping Disney improve its depictions of LGBTQ+ characters on the big and small screen.
Disney’s history with queer representation has been a slow journey, with Jack Whitehall’s character in Jungle Cruise being the studio’s most recent effort to include gay stories onscreen. In years past, Disney has either used queer-coding or characters with one explicit gay moment as a shortcut to LGBTQ+ representation. Whether they’re sassy, effeminate villains like Hades and Scar or fiercely independent princesses like Elsa and Merida, Disney still has a long way to go when it comes to inclusive story-telling. Luckily, Phase Four and Phase Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe could do much to help remedy that problem.
The MCU is no stranger to Disney’s current brand of queer representation, as Joe Russo’s cameo in Avengers: Endgame briefly alludes to his character going on a date with another man. Similarly, in Loki Season 1, Episode 3, “Lamentis,” Loki and Sylvie briefly address their bisexuality. Both moments are small and easily removed, having little impact on their movie or show. However, after over ten years in this universe without queer characters of any kind, these moments feel almost monumental. They are the first glimpses of LGBTQ+ representation in the MCU and since Marvel has a roster of queer comic book characters to adapt for their future movies and shows, this is just the beginning.
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With Marvel’s Eternals introducing a whole host of characters, audiences will soon meet another openly queer MCU character. Phastos, played by Brian Tyree Henry, is one of the Eternals featured in the film, and producer Kevin Fiege has stated the character will have both a husband and a family. Additionally, Thor: Love and Thunder’s director Taika Waititi has confirmed that Korg, the hilarious rock monster he is responsible for playing, will be openly gay in the sequel. Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, who had a scene confirming the character’s bisexuality cut from Thor: Ragnarok, is going to be looking for her queen in the film as well. The MCU will also introduce its version of America Chavez, played by newcomer Xochitl Gomez, in next year’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. In the comics, Chavez is a lesbian and becomes a key member of the Young Avengers.
Marvel has also already introduced two characters in WandaVision whose comic book counterparts are members of the LGBTQ+ community. Wanda and Vision’s twins Billy and Tommy, whose fates in the MCU are currently unknown, are two of Marvel’s many queer characters. In the comics, Tommy becomes Speed, a member of the Young Avengers, and is openly bisexual, having romantic relationships with both male and female characters. Billy grows up to become Wiccan, another Young Avenger, and the husband of Hulkling, a Kree Skrull hybrid and fellow Avenger. Hulking has yet to be introduced in the MCU, but the character’s origins stem from the Kree-Skrull war depicted in Captain Marvel, and the Skrulls are set to return in Secret Invasion on Disney+ next year.
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Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox in 2019 saw the rights for several Marvel characters revert back to Marvel Studios, many of whom are queer. The MCU is set to continue Ryan Reynolds’ version of Deadpool with a third film soon, with the character being depicted as pansexual in his two previous films. The rights for Negasonic Teenage Warhead and her girlfriend Yukio, also from the Deadpool franchise, have reverted back to Marvel as well, though they have not been confirmed to be a part of Deadpool 3.
Another queer character previously adapted from the comics in the Fox X-Men films is Ice Man, though he was not portrayed as gay because his comic book counterpart had not yet come out. Other LGBTQ+ Marvel characters such as Northstar and Hercules, who have never been adapted for film, are perfect candidates for future films and shows in the MCU. This gives Marvel the chance to establish the definitive versions of these characters onscreen, whereas adapting characters audiences have already seen in the Fox movies will endure the inevitable comparison to their previous iteration.
Marvel Studios has made big steps forward for representation with Black Panther in 2018 and its most recent film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. With its upcoming slate of films set to include several key queer characters, the MCU is set to bring some much-needed LGBTQ+ representation to audiences around the globe. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the most successful franchise in the world, and having openly gay characters in its films will allow queer people everywhere to see themselves as superheroes. While Disney struggles with proper queer representation in its other properties, Marvel’s progressive storytelling will give its parent company a way to properly represent the LGBTQ+ community in a way that it never has before.
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Stephen Tissell hails from the Pacific Northwest where he grew up in Seattle, WA and currently lives in Portland, OR. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Cinema and Media Communication in 2015 from George Fox University. He writes freelance articles on a variety of pop culture topics, with a soft spot for anything Disney, Marvel, or Star Wars. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, a good Netflix binge, and spending time with friends. If you want to see what pun he’s currently using for his name on Twitter, feel free to follow him @StephenTissell.


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