In the latest trailer for Deadpool 2, the Merc with a Mouth grabs Colossus by his steel-metal buns. However, now that Shatterstar has been confirmed to appear in the film, too, that’s not the only hands-on interaction we might see between two men in the upcoming sequel.
Little is known about Lewis Tan’s portrayal of Shatterstar in Deadpool 2, aside from the fact that his character is rocking a glorious red ponytail and knows how to handle a sword or two. In Marvel comics, Shatterstar possesses a typically convoluted back story that involves copious amounts of time travel and story arcs that span entire dimensions. While it’s unclear how much of the source material will be explored in his cinematic debut, one particular boundary that comic book fans hope to see shattered is that of bisexual representation onscreen, or a lack thereof.
When Shatterstar was first created by Fabien Nicieza and Rob Liefeld in 1991’s “New Mutants” #99, the genetically engineered hero was initially depicted as assexual. It wasn’t until acclaimed comic book writer Peter David tackled the character years later in another X-Men related title that Shatterstar was revealed to be both bisexual and polyamorous.
Released in August, 2009, “X-Factor” (Vol. 3) #45 ended with Shatterstar and fellow teammate Rictor sharing a gay kiss that became the first ever to be depicted in mainstream Marvel comics. After they realized their feelings for one another, the two heroes began a relationship, but Rictor struggled to deal with Shatterstar’s polyamorous desires and this has put a strain on them both in the years that have passed since.
Rictor has already appeared on screen before in last year’s Logan, but in that film, the character lives in a dystopian future far removed from Deadpool’s timeline. He’s also depicted as much younger too, so it’s highly doubtful that Rictor’s relationship with Shatterstar will be portrayed in Deadpool 2. Of course, it’s entirely possible that Lewis Tan’s hero will become romantically involved with someone else in the film, but given the poor track record of LGBTQ representation in superhero movies, there’s a strong chance that Shatterstar’s bisexuality won’t be acknowledged at all.
Heroes like Black Lightning’s Anissa Pierce and Karolina Dean on Marvel’s Runaways are leaping over walls of intolerance in a single bound on TV. Unfortunately, this more inclusive approach to queer representation hasn’t translated to superhero stories being told on the big screen.
Marvel were quick to strike down speculation that two female warriors in Black Panther could be engaged in a sexual relationship and the appearance of Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok erased her bisexual identity completely, despite the fact that Tessa Thompson originally filmed a scene that acknowledged this as an integral part of her character. It’s not like there isn’t a demand for representation of this nature either, yet campaigns like “Give Captain America a Boyfriend” still fall on deaf ears.
Marvel has had a long and checkered history of teasing audiences with the potential inclusion of LGBTQ characters in their films. Part of this reticence comes from a fear of how international audiences might react in less queer-friendly countries, but there’s a slim chance that Fox might not feel quite as restricted in the same way now. Releasing a R-rated comedy like Deadpool off the back of X-Men’s success seemed risky when it was first announced, but this decision paid off big time in the long run, so perhaps Fox might beat Marvel to the punch and become the first to finally portray a character like Shatterstar as openly queer in our cinemas.
Rumors already hint that Negasonic Teenage Warhead might get a girlfriend for Deadpool 2 in the form of Yoki, the chain wielding mutant who audiences were introduced to in the latest trailer. This would be a particularly powerful stride for mainstream representation of LGBTQ heroes given that actress Brianna Hildebrand is openly queer in real life herself. However, Deadpool 2 holds the potential to break even more barriers than that, if only Fox were brave enough to acknowledge that the franchise’s lead character himself is queer, too.
Back when the first Deadpool movie was promoted in 2016, director Tim Miller suggested that the Merc with a Mouth would be pansexual in the movie, just like he is in the comics, but that turned out to be yet another tease when the film only revealed his feelings for his girlfriend, Vanessa. Star Ryan Reynolds later told Variety that Deadpool’s own take on love “could be played up more” in future installments, and director David Leitch hasn’t counted that out as a possibility, but it currently remains unclear how faithful Deadpool 2 will be to the source material.
If Deadpool himself can’t fully explore his sexuality on screen, then it seems unlikely that Shatterstar will be depicted as anything other than straight, too, unless of course Fox decide to test the waters first with a queer supporting character. If that’s the case, then perhaps this founding member of X-Force can finally help begin to shatter heteronormative assumptions about bisexuality on the big screen and perhaps even make out with Deadpool along the way. You just know that the Merc with a Mouth has a thing for that ponytail.
Deadpool 2 will break the fourth wall and maybe assumptions about sexuality, too, when it hits theaters on May 18th.