We run out of superlatives to describe the pure phenomenon that is Kevin Feige‘s Marvel Cinema Universe (MCU). Each new Marvel film smashes box-office records, draws in millions of fans, earns great critical reviews and brings us beloved characters to enjoy, awe and, in the case of Chadwick Boseman‘s T’Challa, pine over.
Admittedly, other franchises can achieve those feats too, with Star Wars doing so with “The Force Awakens” and the Harry Potter universe set to do so with the next “Fantastic Beasts” instalment. But what sets the MCU apart from all other franchises is its commitment to representing its entire audience, making some of their films socially, crucially important.
“Black Panther” was the first film to feature a black superhero as its lead, as well as have a predominantly black supporting cast. This is so important, particularly for kids – they will be able to see themselves on screen in a film that everyone is seeing, talking about and loving. That would’ve be an incredibly validating experience. The same will go for little girls around the globe when Brie Larson‘s “Captain Marvel” flies onto our screens next year, and the same did go for DC’s “Wonder Woman.”
To paraphrase the tagline of “Love, Simon:” everyone deserves a superhero. The MCU are currently ensuring that that is carried out in their films. But, and this is a big but, they are crucially missing out on one consistently under-represented segment of movie audiences: the LGBT community.
The aforementioned “Love, Simon has this year given us the first ever mainstream, studio rom-com with a gay lead about gay love – but it is now time for Disney, Marvel and the MCU to step up a gear and give us a much needed gay superhero. LGBT kids around the world deserve to see themselves on the big screen in blockbusters, too.
The problem is, the most major Marvel comic-book character who is gay is Iceman, who is part of the X-Men and is therefore with Fox Studios. Even if this Marvel and Fox deal goes through, it’s unlikely that Feige would incorporate the X-Men into the MCU. It’d surely be too many characters, even for the MCU, and would get too messy.
What would be more likely is for the Fantastic Four (also part of Fox) to get a third reboot and join the MCU much like Tom Holland’s Spider-Man did. That would make sense and the famous foursome would be much easier to incorporate into the MCU. If this would be the case, I would strongly argue to make the Human Torch, aka Johnny Storm, gay. Why not? It would make sense and because Storm is part of of a team of heroes, he wouldn’t have to lead the film by himself. That would take the pressure off. And if you need help casting the Human Torch, I’d like to throw my hat in the ring. Gimme a call, Kev.
Alternatively, if a Disney and Fox deal doesn’t come into fruition, an existing character would need to be made gay. As would be the same with the Human Torch, Marvel would undoubtedly incur the wrath of comic books fans for adapting their beloved character into the 21st Century and ensuring that everyone has the representation they deserve. To them, I say… get a grip.
Anyhow, it would be tempting, I’m sure, to take the easier route and make a minor character like Wong or Happy Hogan gay. But that would just be a cop out. They’d need to make a major superhero gay – perhaps Captain Marvel would work well, or the Winter Soldier (he has quite the bromance with Cap, right?) or, dare I say it, Spider-Man? Come on, imagine how perfectly it would work for Peter Parker to have to come out as gay and as Spider-Man. It’d just work and would truly mean so much to the LGBT community, while also doing service to a great comic book character. Black Widow, Bruce Banner, Rhodey and Falcon could all fit the bill, too.
It’d be a change from the comic-book safety fans have always known, but one that is needed and one that would only serve to enhance the character. Making a superhero gay would literally only give the character deeper meaning, more dimensions and a greater human appeal. Why the hell not?