Marvel has made some pretty tremendous strides in the last two years or so with expanding its superhero universe to include a more diverse range of characters. Specifically, the studio has made a clear effort to do more with women and people of color in key roles, following almost a decade’s worth of largely white male casts.
Just in 2015 we saw the studio partner with Netflix to release Jessica Jones, a full show with a female lead; and incidentally one that also introduced the African-American hero Luke Cage, who will lead his own show in the near future. On the cinema front, the studio has also announced plans for Black Panther, a film about the African-American character that will debut in this spring’s Captain America: Civil War, and Captain Marvel, which will star a female lead. It’s been a long time coming, but this all represents progress.
Nevertheless, it’s important for a company with the reach and cultural influence of Marvel to be inclusive beyond gender and race. And that’s why a lot of fans are now asking the question of when Marvel will be ready to add an open member of the LGBT community to its superhero ranks. Incidentally, Marvel creative boss Kevin Feige was asked about that very question last summer in an interview with Collider, and he seemed open to the idea. In fact, he’s on record as saying it will “probably” happen within the next decade.
That’s not exactly the strong confirmation or swift action a lot of fans would like to see. But given how thoroughly Marvel’s already mapped out its future, we probably have to accept the idea that introducing a new character is a long process. But who might that character actually be when the time comes? Really, we have no idea, because Marvel Studios is perfectly happy tweaking characters in ways that make them unlike their comic backgrounds. Later this summer, for instance, Tilda Swinton will play The Ancient One – typically a male character – in Doctor Strange. But in the meantime, here are five characters whose comic backgrounds suggest they could ultimately represent the LGBT community in Marvel films.
The shape-shifting Mystique hasn’t always been one of the more popular X-Men, and thus she’s probably overlooked as often as not when people speculate about prominent LGBT superheroes. However, it’s pretty well-known that in the comics Mystique is distinctly bisexual, and some might even consider her ability to embody either gender as an intriguing instrument through which Marvel could reach out to the LGBT community – though it would need to be done considerately. Throw in the fact that Jennifer Lawrence has made the character more popular than ever, and this might be an interesting option indeed.
The complication here is that Lawrence’s Mystique is part of the 20th Century Fox branch of Marvel. But if we’re looking at the next decade, perhaps an agreement will be made to bring the X-Men into the MCU, and a bisexual Mystique along with them.
Tom Hiddleston’s Loki character has arguably been the biggest surprise in the MCU. He’s been simultaneously one of the most interesting villains and one of the most consistent sources of comic relief in the films. But a lot of fans may not know that some consider him to have already been revealed as a bisexual, or at least bi-curious character as well. A Daily Beast article got into the argument in favor of this take on the character following the release of Thor: The Dark World, and whether or not you agree with that presentation it’s clear that Marvel at least has options as far as where they go with the character’s sexuality, if anywhere.
3. Black Widow
Black Widow is a tricky case, because there’s actually some debate over whether or not she’s meant to be bisexual. Furthermore, in her modern presentation we’d never know; Scarlett Johansson’s version of the character is almost always surrounded by men. That’s only natural when she’s pretty much the only prominent female Avenger, and we’ve seen as a result that even in other branches of superhero entertainment she’s still “one of the guys.” Even an Iron Man 2 game at Gala’s Bingo site that goes to the trouble of featuring Black Widow’s image puts her in the middle of a lineup with three other men (Iron Man, Whiplash, and War Machine). The game brings the movie characters to life in a slot machine format, but even there there’s no Pepper Potts association (as there easily could have been) to make us wonder about Black Widow.
Despite these frustrating examples from film and casino gaming, however, Black Widow’s lack of association with women might actually make this a pretty easy route for Marvel to take. Perhaps when she finally does have female company we’ll see a bisexual or lesbian take on the character.
Destiny is one X-Men character we actually still haven’t seen in the 20th Century Fox films. Also known as Irene Adler (no one ever seems to mind the bizarre Sherlock Holmes connection), Destiny is typically portrayed as a young mutant who’s able to see future events but sometimes struggles to interpret her own visions. She’s also a known partner of Mystique’s, which makes for an interesting potential entry point to Marvel films. If Mystique does ever find her way into the MCU as an openly bisexual heroine, Destiny would be a natural supporting character.
Colossus has been an interesting character in modern Marvel, in that he’s attained a pretty prominent position despite relatively little time on screen. In part that may be due to his having been one of the original characters (and one of the strongest characters, for that matter) on Kabam’s Marvel combat app. However, it’s also because his limited roles on screen have been pretty memorable. Most recently he was featured as a humble but amusing voice of reason in Deadpool, which was a bigger hit than even devoted fans could have ever hoped for.
As it happens, Colossus is also supposed to be gay. Given how he’s been portrayed in films thus far – in limited roles, as a giant metal being who doesn’t have a whole lot to say – it’s hard to imagine him becoming an LGBT pioneer for Marvel. But again, he’s become popular, so it could be an interesting option.