With Black Panther breaking records at the box office and another six or seven superhero films due to come out in 2018, Marvel and DC are major power players in the film industry now, and don’t look to be losing their position anytime soon. But where are all the LGBT+ characters? LUKE MARLOW questions.
LGBT representation in these films has been sorely lacking – and whilst Black Panther has brought some much-needed diversity to the screen, it also cut a reference to a lead character’s sexuality. In addition, last year’s brilliant Thor Ragnarok introduced audiences to Tessa Thompson’s badass Valkyrie – but whilst the actor was keen to play the character true to her bisexual origins, no mention of this was made on screen. With new generations finding inspiration in these films, shouldn’t they be finding representation too? It’s about time we got an LGBT superhero on the big screen – and here are some of the potential Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual heroes who could set the silver screen alight.
The X-Men comics are hugely popular amongst a gay readership – the tales of a band of outsiders persecuted by the larger world, the parallels to the gay community are clear. Bobby Drake or, to call him by his codename, Iceman, was a founding member of the X-Men and appeared in the very first issue of the comic back in 1963. Whilst the other original X-Men have had torrid romantic lives over the years, Bobby had a number of girlfriends, but none ever stuck. An encounter with a time-travelling younger version of himself (even more complicated than it sounds), led to Bobby accepting what he’d been hiding for so many years – and he’s now an out and proud gay man who’s recently been exploring his new outlook on life in a fantastic series by queer writer Sina Grace.
Iceman has already been on the big screen – portrayed by Shawn Ashmore in X-Men, X2, X-Men The Last Stand, and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Movie Iceman was shown in a relationship with Anna Paquin’s Rogue – but maybe it’s time Iceman made a reappearance and came out of the closet. The planned solo ‘Kitty Pryde’ movie could be a great time for Iceman’s sexuality to be explored in more detail – and as a fun, witty, everyman he could be a great fan favourite if portrayed properly
Jean-Paul Baubier, who goes by the codename Northstar, became famous as a member of the Canadian comics group Alpha Flight. Northstar is important as he’s probably the first high profile out gay character, with his sexuality heavily hinted at by writers, but not being clearly stated until 13 years after his first appearance. Jean-Paul then made history by marrying his partner, Kyle in a much-publicised wedding back in 2012 – making him the first Marvel hero to be in a Gay marriage. Witty, sassy and full of snark – Northstar could be a great hero on the big screen. Cast someone suitably elfin like Lee Pace to play him, and not only would you have a modern and contemporary hero, but the potential to portray a stable gay relationship in a medium where they’ve yet to make an appearance.
Film company Fox has made a film of comic book group the ‘New Mutants’, which is due for release in 2019. That film is set to feature all of the founding members of that group, with one notable exception – Karma. Xi’an Coy Manh, is a character from Vietnam – with a power of psychic possession and a harrowing origin tale. First appearing in 1980, Karma came out as a lesbian in a comic published in 2002. She’s not received much focus over the years, but could be a great character to receive some time and attention on the big screen, with her dark origins, struggle to be a responsible figure for her younger siblings, and discovery of her sexuality meaning she could be a great fit for the more “teen” orientated New Mutants film, and I’m hopeful she’ll be top of the list should they get optioned for a sequel.
Midnighter & Apollo
Two for the price of one with these two – Midnighter and Apollo are a superhero couple who first appeared in Stormwatch – a book published by Wildstorm comics. Wildstorm has now become a part of DC comics, and Midnighter and Apollo brought into the same universe as Batman, Superman and Wonderwoman amongst others. They may look relatively familiar – Midnighter is an ultra-violent vigilante who dresses all in black, and Apollo is a caped superhero with flight and super strength… However, the difference between two and the more famous Batman and Superman, is that Midnighter and Apollo are openly gay, and in a relationship. They’re a hugely fun pairing who’ve had their romantic ups and downs over the years, and whilst the similarities to Batman and Superman may mean that Midnighter and Apollo may not be showing up in live action films anytime soon, they’re ripe for inclusion in DC’s ever-growing portfolio of animated films.
The son of Wolverine, Daken is hot, frequently shirtless, very angry and openly bisexual. Introduced in 2007, he’s an angsty, troubled character who’s constantly unpredictable and thus always very readable. Confident yet conflicted, Daken is less about forming relationships and more about using sex as a way of manipulating and controlling people, whether they be man or woman. With Hugh Jackman stating that he’s not coming back as Wolverine, there’s room for a clawed killer who can take his place and look damn good doing it – and Daken is definitely my pick.
Yes, not Catwoman (who, for the record, is bisexual – something fleetingly hinted at in The Dark Night Rises, but Catman. Thomas Blake, was initially designed as a villain for Batman to face, but has become a far more balanced and sympathetic character over the years, showing up in the Secret Six book and coming out as bisexual. With it highly likely that the DC movies are going to bring us yet another version of Catwoman – why not stop and switch to Catman instead? He’d bring some much-needed Bi-Visibility to the movie universe, and if written well could be a darkly sexy counterpoint to the straight-laced Bruce Wayne.
We’ve had two versions of Mystique on the big screen – first played by Rebecca Romjin in the original X-Men trilogy, and then by Jennifer Lawrence from First Class onwards. Whilst the recent films have given Mystique motive and heart, the character is far removed from her comic book self. Mystique, or Raven Darkholme, first appeared in 1978 – the adoptive mother of Rogue and the biological mother of Nightcrawler, she’s a complicated, fascinating and untrustworthy character who constantly keeps the reader on their toes. Openly bisexual, Mystique and her former partner Irene Adler served as Rogue’s parents – and despite Mystique’s villainy, they were a loving, tender couple, leading to Mystique’s utter heartbreak when Destiny died. As a character who has yet to find any real happiness in the films – isn’t it time Mystique got a girlfriend?
Miguel Santos first appeared in a Marvel comic in 1990 – a man whose encounter with a mysterious machine left him capable of both being and controlling lightning. He appeared on and off over the years – and in 2005 was revealed to be gay. He’s recently moved up to the big leagues in the current Avengers: No Surrender event that’s taking place in the comics. With actors like Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr coming to an end of their contracts in the Avengers’ films, and big-name deaths predicted for the upcoming Infinity War, the timing couldn’t be better for introducing Miguel Santos to the movie universe – and giving us a gay Latino hero with plenty of sparks.
Think Batman, but with pops of red on the costume, flowing locks and perfectly applied lipstick – and you’ve got Batwoman. Kate Kane appeared in the DC universe proper in 2015 and she’s a remarkable character. An out lesbian, she’s got a unique look – whether in her brilliantly designed costume or dressed down as her pale-skinned, rockabilly self. She’d certainly brighten up a film universe that’s been rather monotone so far, and her interesting and timely backstory as a marine discharged due to her sexuality, is one that could work extremely well on the big screen.
Wiccan and Hulkling
Two for the price of one here – Wiccan and Hulkling are two young lovebirds from the Marvel Universe. With Wiccan’s magical abilities and Hulkling’s shapeshifting skills, these are a powerful and beloved pairing who would look brilliant on film. Their story, as gay teens accepted and loved by those around them, could be a valuable piece of representation on film, and it’d be great to see a new generation of Avengers be built around this pair.
DC’s sarcastic, magic-wielding and Liverpudlian detective John Constantine is a hugely popular character who’s made a few live-action appearances over the years, with a Keanu Reeves led film that completely missed everything that made Constantine such a brilliant character. A TV series in 2014 provided a brilliant Constantine in the form of welsh actor Matt Ryan, but sadly decided to steer clear of addressing Constantine’s bisexuality. However, Ryan has now made appearances in the tv show Legends of Tomorrow where he’s flirting up a storm with both men and women, and I’m hopeful that he’ll be pulled into the DC cinematic universe before too long.
Critics hated Suicide Squad when it was released in 2016 – but Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn was a standout star, and the character swiftly became a fan favourite. Whilst the film chose to portray Harley’s doomed and abusive relationship with the Joker, in the comics, she’s moved on from that sadist and found love and companionship in the form of Poison Ivy. Two intensely intelligent characters (Harley has a PhD in Psychology and Ivy one in Botany) with compelling motives, they’re close friends in an open relationship. With the upcoming ‘Gotham City Sirens’ movie mooted to contain both Harley and Ivy – it could be a great place to see their bond forming.
Much like Harley Quinn, Renee Montoya was created for the Batman Animated series, before being pulled through into the DC comic line. A police detective, Renee was outed as a lesbian and later left the police force and became an investigative hero known as The Question. A character who’s gone through huge amounts of change since her debut, Renee is a compelling character who could fit well into the dark and grimy movie world that DC have created so far.
Rictor and Shatterstar
Both Marvel characters, these two came together in 2009, 22 years after Rictor’s first appearance, and 18 years after Shatterstar’s. One a mutant with earth quaking abilities, and one a time travelling, dimension hopping superhero, both came to prominence as members of a team called “X-Force”, and with an “X-Force” film scheduled to be released in the next few years, the stars could be aligning for Rictor and Shatterstar’s big screen debut. Here’s hoping they keep Shatterstar in full 90’s garb – ponytail and all!
Piotr Rasputin, or Colossus, has been a mainstay of the X-Men books since his first appearance in 1975. The original version of Colossus is straight, and currently engaged to be married – but an alternate and gay version of Colossus appeared back in 2001 in Marvel’s Ultimate line of comics. This version of Piotr was a Russian arms smuggler – but found happiness as a hero with the X-Men. Colossus has been portrayed on film a fair few times now, but only ever as a minor character. His most recent appearance in the Deadpool film had his Russian accent spot on – so maybe his appearance in the sequel could see his sexuality explored?
Another alternate universe character here – this is a Wolverine who appeared in the X-Treme X-Men book back in 2012. This version had a few differences from the Wolverine who’s featured in the main Universe – his claws were gold, and he happened to be in a relationship with Greek God Hercules. This hairy pair were very popular with fans – and with Wolverine likely to be recast now Hugh Jackman has stepped down from the role, why not give us a gay, golden clawed Wolverine?
First appearing in DC comics back in 1988, Extrano (or Gregorio De La Vega) was a fairly camp stereotype whose biggest storyline was the reveal of him having HIV. In 2016, Extrano reappeared in the DC universe as a mature, handsome sorcerer who could be a great ally for Constantine or a friend for Midnight and Apollo.
Given her popularity, it’s surprising that America Chavez hasn’t already made an appearance in the Marvel Movie Universe. First appearing in 2011, she’s a strong-willed, powerful and openly queer latino character. The upcoming animated film Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors is due to feature her, and hopefully, she’ll be pulled into the live action film universe soon enough.
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