Last week, Marvel gifted us with two new trailers. A second trailer was released for Captain Marvel, which hits theaters in March 2019, and on Friday, the first trailer and title were released for the latest installment of the Avengers franchise, Avengers: Endgame.
Although the Endgame trailer had no jaw-dropping surprises, many fans were shocked to see Academy Award-nominated actress Annette Bening in the Captain Marvel trailer (her role is unclear as of yet, but there is speculation that she plays the Supreme Intelligence, an omnipotent sentient head).
Both Marvel and DC have made a habit of including award-winning actresses in their films—and giving them disproportionately small roles. Regardless, these actresses and the occasional epic storyline are enough to keep us gays flocking back for more. Unfortunately, none of the movies are all that gay (yet) and the MCU and DCEU are making us beg for scraps in regards to representation. Currently, these scene-stealing actresses are the only thing spicing up the movies and giving us something a little less straight, white, and male. So, in the never-ending battle between Marvel and DC: Who is winning the Battle for the Gay Fans? There are a few categories we need to look at…
Again, for starters, there is almost nothing gay happening in any of these superhero films. Plus, can movies really even be “super” without being gay? Obviously not. Some of the characters in both the MCU and DCEU are canonically queer in the comics—like the bisexual Harley Quinn, who appeared in DC’s Suicide Squad (2016) and will appear in Birds of Prey (2020); DC’s bisexual Diana Prince, AKA the titular Wonder Woman who appeared in Wonder Woman (2017) and Justice League (2017); and Marvel’s Deadpool (produced by Fox, of course, and it is not yet clear what will happen since Disney recently acquired Fox), of Deadpool (2016) and Deadpool 2 (2018). Oh, and Catwoman is canonically queer, too, but the 2004 movie doesn’t necessarily count toward the current DCEU.
Unsurprisingly, none of these characters were overtly portrayed as queer in any of the aforementioned movies. Wonder Woman cracked a joke about how the women of Themyscira don’t need men to feel “pleasure” in a conversation between her and Steve Trevor, but other than that, she is shipped off with cishet male love interests in both Wonder Woman and Justice League. Deadpool had numerous flirtatious interactions with men (particularly Cable and Colossus) in Deadpool 2, but has not ventured outside his relationship with Vanessa (a presumably cishet woman). Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie, was shipped off with the Joker, although Robbie revealed last week that she wants her character to be with Poison Ivy in a future movie (Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are a couple in the comics). However, a canonically lesbian character Renee Montoya, a Gotham City detective, will be featured in Birds of Prey—and hopefully she will be portrayed as such.
Then there’s Ayo and Okoye of Black Panther. Earlier this year, Marvel was embroiled in controversy when a romantic scene between the two female characters was reportedly cut—rude. Apparently, the same happened for Tessa Thompson’s character, Valkyrie, in Thor: Ragnarok. The actress tweeted to confirm that her character is “bi,” so hopefully we’ll get a glimpse of that in the near future. Marvel Studios Chief Kevin Feige revealed in June that two LGBTQ MCU characters were in the works—one which we’ve already seen, and another that we haven’t. So, many fans assumed the “one we’ve seen” would be Valkyrie.
But lest we forget Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who appeared in Deadpool 2 as the first openly gay character in Fox’s Marvel Universe. NTW is played by Brianna Hildebrand, an out lesbian, and dates another queer superhero in the movie, Yukio. So, Marvel (really Fox) wins this category for being actually inclusive—even if it was two small, tertiary roles.
*Professor McGonagall voice* One point to Marvel House!
Alongside Hildebrand, out queer actors have been included in superhero movies, but scarcely. Amber Heard, who identifies as bisexual, plays Mera in DC’s Aquaman, which hits theaters December 19th, “quasi straight” actress Rosie Perez will play Renee Montoya in Birds of Prey, and the queer Kiersey Clemons is set to star in Flashpoint in 2020.
Tessa Thompson appeared in the MCU as Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok (2017), and is rumored to appear in Avengers: Endgame next. Notably, in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), lesbian fave Ellen Page played Kitty Pryde, the bisexual Anna Paquin played Rogue, and gay icon Sir Ian McKellen played Magneto (McKellen also appeared as Magneto in previous X-Men movies).
Even though there are scant queer female actors in the MCU and DCEU, McKellen is the only openly gay male actor who has been cast in a major Marvel (re: Fox) role. Kit Harrington from Game of Thrones slammed the studio for their lack of inclusion.
“There’s a big problem with masculinity and homosexuality that they can’t somehow go hand in hand,” he told Variety at the Toronto International Film Festival. “That we can’t have someone in a Marvel movie who’s gay in real life and plays some superhero. I mean, when is that going to happen?” Thank you, King of the North/King of the Allies.
Luckily, DC cast rising queer icon Ezra Miller as The Flash, who first appeared as his character in Justice League, and will star alongside Kiersey Clemons in Flashpoint. So, this category is a tie, as both Marvel and DC have employed four queer actors each. And just to reiterate—none of this is good. We still need a Hela lot more representation—see what I did there?
Let’s get into the award-winning actresses, as there’s a lot to unpack here, and so much to stan. On Team DC, we’ve got: Amy Adams, Nicole Kidman, Amber Heard, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Gal Gadot, Viola Davis—deep breath—Diane Lane, Holly Hunter, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kiersey Clemons, and Kristen Wiig. Most of those women fuck me up big time, but let’s look at Marvel’s lineup.
So far, Marvel has claimed: Annette Bening, Cate Blanchett, Brie Larson, Marisa Tomei, Elisabeth Olsen, Rachel McAdams, Glenn Close, Michelle Williams—gasping for air—Tilda Swinton, Angela Bassett, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Gwyneth Paltrow (snooze), Amy Landecker, Zoe Saldana, problematic fave Scarlett Johansson—wheezing—Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Jennifer Lawrence (who I’m not sure any of us care about anymore—change my mind). Plus, they have fan favorites like Alexandra Shipp from Love, Simon, Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones, Zendaya, and Letitia Wright, Black Panther’s breakout star.
To be fair, Marvel has been proliferating movies for longer than DC, so DC still has some catching up to do. But let’s just call it: Marvel absolutely swept this category. You had me at “Cate Blanchett villain.”
So, with Marvel stealing two out of the three categories, it appears that the Avengers’ studio is currently winning the never-ending Battle for the Gay Fans. Both DC and Marvel have impressive films slated for the next few years, including a Batgirl solo movie, a Supergirl solo movie, and Wonder Woman 1984 on the DC front. At Marvel, a Black Widow solo movie is on the horizon, plus Black Panther 2, and a project focused on Ms. Marvel, who would serve as the studio’s first Muslim superhero.