Last week, the Supreme Court delivered a history-making decision, legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 of the United States. But in the world of comic books, even in this day and age, it’s harder for female characters and other minorities to succeed in the art form. To their credit though, the publisher is taking strides to present a more diverse population of heroes and Kevin Feige, the President of Marvel Studios, thinks an LGBT character will “for sure” pop up on the big screen within the next ten years.
Marvel has supplied a few African American heroes in its movies, most notably Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes, alternately known as War Machine and Iron Patriot, and Anthony Mackie as The Falcon, also known as Sam Wilson. Both War Machine and The Falcon signed up as Avengers in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron.’
As for females, the only headliner so far is Hayley Atwell as ‘Agent Carter‘ on TV. The most visible female super hero has been Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, who has now starred in four separate Marvel movies. And last year, Zoe Saldana stepped into the MCU as Gamora, one of the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.’
Kevin Feige was asked if we would see an LGBT character in the MCU within the next decade, to which he replied “I would think so, for sure.”
He pointed out how the movies followed the comics and explained the timeline:
“Well in the drawing board going up to 2019 it remains to be seen. The comics always make the path that we get to have the fun of saying, ‘Yeah let’s choose this way or let’s choose this way’ and I think there are a lot of cool things happening in the comics now that—it’s usually a five to ten-year cycle between when something happens in the comics and when we can do it in the movie, sometimes a little less, but ‘Civil War’ is certainly about the 10-year mark. ‘Winter Soldier’, I think, was around that time. So we always look at stuff that’s happening in the comics and go, ‘Where could we do that?’ Sometimes it’s sooner, but there’s no reason why that couldn’t happen in the next decade or sooner.”
Unfortunately, there’s one big reason why it couldn’t. Marvel doesn’t really have that many LGBT characters to choose from. Their most famous is actually the first gay super hero in comics, Northstar, but as a mutant, his rights are lumped in with the ‘X-Men’ whose film rights are held by Fox.
Besides Northstar, there are a few teen heroes that are homosexual, including Wiccan and Hulkling from the ‘Young Avengers,’ teenage heroes that are romantically involved (pictured above). These are fan favorite characters, but ever since their creator Alan Heinberg quit writing for Marvel to focus on his television career, the characters have laid somewhat dormant. Wiccan is the son of the Scarlet Witch, a fact that will have to be omitted should he be used in the movie, as that character, played by Elizabeth Olsen is fairly young herself.
Hulkling is the son of the original Captain Marvel, an alien of the Kree race, and a Skrull. He inherited his mother’s shape-shifting abilities, which he mainly uses to assume the form of a smaller version of The Hulk. Once again a problem arises with his origin. This version of Captain Marvel most likely not exist in the MCU and the rights to the Skrulls are packaged with those of the Fantastic Four, once again, held by Fox.
The Young Avengers were recently joined by the brash Latina America Chavez (left), also known as Miss America, from a parallel dimension where she was the child of two mothers. She is a mystery character and even her powers are not fully revealed, but she has demonstrated flight, super strength and dimensional teleportation. Though she was in a heterosexual relationship with a male character, the Ultimate Nullifier, she now openly identifies as a Lesbian.
A movie that has been in development for years and looks less and less likely to ever get made is based on the series ‘Runaways’ also about a group of teen heroes. These teens all discover they are the offspring of super villains and dedicate themselves to halting their parents sinister plans as well as those of other criminals. Their lineup includes Karolina Dean (right), a young lesbian with light-based powers. Karolina harbors a crush on her teammate Niko, but later begins a relationship with the Skrull Xavin, who can be either male or female at will.
‘Runaways’ was, pardon the pun, a runaway success when they first debuted, but once again, once their creator Brian K. Vaughn departed, their popularity plummeted and like the Young Avengers, they only appear sporadically in the Marvel Universe.
More characters have been depicted as bisexual. The most famous is Mystique, but once again, she’s an ‘X-Men’ character.
One of the more amusing “outings” was that of Hercules, the legendarily strong demigod of Greek mythology. Marvel’s version is depicted as a gregarious, hedonistic and lusty brute, contrasting with his more noble, stoic Norse counterpart Thor.
Hercules has famously bedded a large percentage of Marvel’s female population. But those well versed in ancient Greek culture know that same-sex relationships were common during that time… encouraged even, in some instances. And in some of Hercules’ classic tales, he was shown to have male lovers. In a recent story, all of the legendary hero’s lovers gathered in one spot and among them was Northstar. The bit is used for comedy and not embellished upon, but it happened and something similar could occur onscreen.
But Marvel isn’t likely to utilize Hercules because they don’t own him outright. (Thor either, for that matter.) Because Herc originated in Greek mythology, no one owns him. He’s part of public domain, which is why so many movies have been made about him– studios don’t have to pay royalties. Just in 2014, two different Hercules movies were released, starring Dwayne Johnson in one and Kellan Lutz in the other… and both bombed. Hercules isn’t a big movie draw and Marvel would most likely be concerned about a lesser quality Hercules movie damaging their hero’s appeal.
But then again, all Feige commented on was an LGBT character, not necessarily a super hero or headliner. For all we know, Captain Marvel could have a sassy gay coworker (most likely played by Stanley Tucci) and that would count.
Sex is NOT a big factor in the Marvel movies, but romance is. All of the male headliners have had female romantic interests. Hopefully, if Marvel were to depict an LGBT character, that wouldn’t be the main focus of that person’s story arc. But it might be nice at some point just to have that acknowledgement as long as it’s an organic part of the film.
What do you think? Which LGBT characters would you like to see translated to live action?