- The “Avengers: Endgame” directors Anthony and Joe Russo revealed on SiriusXM this week that an existing character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is gay.
- “There is a gay character coming up in one of their films, and I think Kevin will make that announcement I’m sure pretty soon,” Joe said, referring to Kevin Feige, the Marvel Studios president.
- Disney has been criticized for “straightwashing” Marvel characters in the past, especially since many are queer in the comics.
- Now fans are mocking the Russo brothers for the underwhelming announcement after 22 blockbuster films with no LGBTQ representation.
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The “Avengers: Endgame” directors Anthony and Joe Russo recently revealed that an existing character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is gay – but fans in LGBTQ communities, many of whom have been begging for representation in the MCU for years, weren’t impressed with the announcement.
“There’s been insinuations about other characters’ sexuality, but this is the first openly gay” character, Joe said.
“There is a gay character coming up in one of their films, and I think Kevin will make that announcement I’m sure pretty soon,” Joe continued, referring to Kevin Feige, the Marvel Studios president.
In 2018, Feige teased two openly gay characters in the MCU – “both ones you’ve seen and ones you haven’t seen.”
The vague comment quickly made headlines, but the Russo brothers’ pseudo-announcement this week has been roundly mocked by queer fans and LGBTQ allies online.
Disney has been accused of ‘straightwashing’ in the past
As Jess Joho wrote for Mashable, it has always made sense for the MCU to include non-straight characters.
“Superheroes often make great metaphors for something else. Marvel in particular has created heroes that read like overt metaphors for gender and sexuality,” Francesca Coppa, an English professor at Muhlenberg College who studies fandom, told Mashable. “There’s all different ways these characters open up to queer identification.”
Additionally, many fans believe that multiple characters have been “coded” over the years, meaning they have relationships and moments that feel queer but are not made explicit onscreen.
Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier), Steve Rogers (Captain America), Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel), Okoye, Loki, and Valkyrie are the most prominent examples.
Loki. Valkyrie. Korg. Ayo… Sometimes the LGBTQ+ community disappoints me with all their support for Marvel movies when they are blatantly straightwashing characters onscreen from the very beginning. I wonder for how long such fans will continue to do so.
— A.J Raven (@tempest071990) May 5, 2019
I'm gonna be THAT nerd and tell them to read more Marvel comics, because *multiple* existing MCU characters are bi or pan. They've just refused to portray that onscreen. https://t.co/4nzIa1NJ05
— Michelle (@michelle_on_rye) May 9, 2019
Many fans believe Marvel is prioritizing making money over meaningful representation onscreen
Given all this, after 22 blockbuster films and no LGBTQ representation, fans are disappointed that Marvel would retroactively announce that an existing character is gay – especially without giving that identity attention onscreen.
Many believe Disney straightwashes movies because it doesn’t want to alienate certain audiences, particularly in homophobic cultures and countries.
It's a shame. We're making so much progress on LGBT representation in mainstream media but most of the biggest franchises are too scared to admit we exist. Most of them are owned by Disney.
— André Reacts (@AndreReacts) May 8, 2019
They must have been hiding in the trees this whole time- we need to stop with this queer baiting it’s not doing any favors to the lgbtq+ community. Funny how this announcement is made after these movies make their theatrical run so MCU doesn’t miss out in that foreign coin
— George (@Hypnotique89) May 9, 2019
Not to start stuff. But if marvel actually wants to give us an LGBT character they can start by confirming Valkyrie is Bi on screen. Because a deleted scene means jack shit
— Nora Darhk is all the woman we need (@NicConrads) May 9, 2019
Reminder: Disney will NEVER create a LGBT character that cannot be removed for their China film release. Money beats representation every. Single. Time. 100% this will include Marvel, Fox, etc. #crappiestplaceonearth
— Lisa-Marie (@lisamarie_no_p) May 9, 2019
Marvel and Disney also do this out of greed. By erasing bi, trans, and gay characters they are able to put these movies over to China so they can make even more money. China bans any movie that has ghosts or anything not straight from homophobic and superstitious traditions.
— Gyub (@Puncubus) May 5, 2019
“Representation is a big thing! It’s an emotional thing,” one fan wrote on Twitter. “Utilizing it as a marketing tactic (and THEN not even committing to the thing) is exploitative.”
representation is a big thing! it’s an emotional thing. utilizing it as a marketing tactic (and THEN not even committing to the thing) is exploitative
— Mary Ellen (@alissacaliente) May 9, 2019
Many fans mocked the underwhelming announcement, joking that Marvel executives see themselves as generous and radical by including one gay character in the massive cast of Marvel superheroes.
me @ marvel, blessing us undeserving queers with the wondrous gift of a single, solitary, shining Gay pic.twitter.com/1byk4F3KUk
— ✨Literary Necromancer???? (@RoAnnaSylver) May 9, 2019
the infinity stones are pan
— Mary Ellen (@alissacaliente) May 9, 2019
Marvel about to make Rocket gay and call it representation. https://t.co/ImWw28wIbK
— Kharlo (@KharloKong) May 8, 2019
I didn't know J K Rowling worked at Marvel Studios.
— Moon (@Moonsh4de) May 8, 2019
Ultimately, fans who crave LGBTQ representation in the Marvel Universe say they won’t be satisfied until they see it onscreen.