When I was younger, I would watch my mother’s mood a lot. Carefully. Deliberately. Because between my two parents, it was always easier to convince her to buy things that I needed or wanted. Well, as easy as it gets with a very thrifty Nigerian mom (which is not very).
Still, I always had to wait until she was in the perfect mood. Because if I rushed it? Well, I would get the child-friendly equivalent of a “fuck no.” But if I waited for what I thought was the appropriate moment, she would usually go “whatever, get it before I change my mind.” Which was fine by me.
And that was the pattern things followed until my mom switched up one day when I entered my teens. You see, I started questioning (albeit, minorly and respectfully) my mom’s nos and sometimes even her yeses to understand how she arrived at the decisions on these things. So one day, when I thought I made a convincing case to take on a new extracurricular activity, I was shocked when she hit me with “I’ll think about it." And answers like that became more frequent thereafter. “I’ll think about it” turned into “Let me sleep on it,” which turned into “maybe,” which also morphed into my least favorite:
These moments are what I was taken back to a couple of weeks ago, during Pride, when Marvel overlord Kevin Feige announced that there would be TWO (not just one) queer characters coming (if they were not already in the universe) to Marvel’s film wing very “soon.” I assume the inclusion of two was supposed to make the delay sound a little better or make it sting less, but honestly? It didn’t do all that much to reassure me. Mostly because he said something similar back in June 2015, three years ago, when he mentioned we would see LGBTQIA+ characters in the MCU “within the next decade”.
In the meantime, we’ve witnessed two (there’s that number again!) queer moments get left on the cutting-room floor (from Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther) and lost to the wind in the interest of “time” and “coherency” of the film’s narrative and thematic arcs. Which, again, stung, but let’s assume that I let that all go. The issue and lack of queer representation still won’t go away and still remains a very present and potent problem. The Marvel Cinematic Universe and its films have been around for over ten years and it had at least 9 years before Ragnarok and 10 years before BP came out to debut a queer character. To date, that makes approximately 20 movies (as of Ant-Man and The Wasp) and still, we are nowhere to be found.
We simply don’t exist in this universe.
Which is kind of preposterous if you ask me. It’s not like queer folx exploded into existence like the Big Bang when Thor: Ragnarok dropped. Or BP. We’ve been here. We’ve always been a thing. We were a thing before the MCU and we will be a thing even after the MCU. So. Why are we still being told to wait and metaphorically hold these weird-ass “coming soon” marquees above our heads like we’re movies nobody asked for or roller coasters in that one Six Flags location that won’t be properly built for another 13 years?
I have a beef with that word. “Soon.” It bothers me. And it bothers me specifically because of my history with it. Saying that certain representation is coming soon (or also arbitrarily: “on the way") is almost crueler than flat out saying yes or no. Marginalized groups are used to hearing no. Used to getting doors slammed in our faces. Used to being written off and written out. Yeses are rarer, but when we get them, when we do get those wins, we show out. We celebrate, but we never forget how rare those wins can be. But what we’re not used to, what we shouldn’t get used to, is a “maybe”--or in this case, a “soon.”
You know why?
Because a “soon” gives hope. And I’d argue that 99.9% of the time, it is a false hope. It raises expectations. It’s a baby soft setup for a potentially gargantuan let-down. It leaves the door open for disappointment. Because there’s a chance that the soon will not happen or will never come.
And in the MCU’s case, even if I am to accept that this “soon” will, in fact, one day arrive, when would that “soon” be, exactly? Is “soon” gonna be next year? Will queer characters appear in Captain Marvel? Will she be queer herself (one can dream)? Or will it happen three years from now in some unannounced MCU project? Or five years from now? Or will it literally take another decade like we had to wait with Black Panther?
I am truly tired of marginalized audiences being given that “soon” or told to “wait our turns” as pacification for folx dropping the ball on representation that should frankly already exist whilst they continue to pay meaningless mouth service to “diversity and inclusion” and take our money while they do it.
“Soon” is not soon enough.
“Soon” needs to be now.