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When Will We See An LGBT Superhero In Film?

Later this summer, 20th Century Fox will release its Fantastic Four reboot, and one of the most talked about aspects of the new project is that the studio cast up-and-coming actor Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch. Jordan is widely viewed as a fine young actor, but the decision was always bound to make headlines given that Jordan is black, and the character is traditionally white.

All of this comes along with a growing discussion of improving diversity along with gender and race equality in comic superhero films. On the DC side of things, this discussion has been headlined by the introduction of Wonder Woman (to be played by Gal Gadot) to Zack Snyder’s budding Justice League-based franchise. There are also rumors that an eventual Green Lantern reboot may cast Tyrese Gibson as John Stewart (a black character who took up the role of Green Lantern in the comics) as opposed to replacing Hal Jordan (the Green Lantern hero played by Ryan Reynolds previously) with another white actor.

Where Marvel is concerned, some level of character diversity has already been emphasized in existing films. Black actors Don Cheadle and Anthony Mackie have had prominent roles (albeit as sidekicks), and this past spring’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron made a clear effort to beef up some female roles, most noticeably those of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and newly introduced Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). But it’s also been announced that there will be a Black Panther film, which will likely mark the first modern occasion of a black actor (set to be Chadwick Boseman) taking the lead in a superhero film. Also, a Captain Marvel project is expected as Marvel’s answer to Wonder Woman.

All of these developments will be wonderful for DC and Marvel, as well as for droves of fans who’d like to see increased diversity. And yet, with female and black characters finally seeing improved prospects in superhero films, there’s a natural follow-up question: when are we going to see a hero connected to the LGBT community?

This would be a fair question no matter when it was being asked, but in light of the events of the summer of 2015, it feels more relevant than ever. The struggle for LGBT rights has been a long and tumultuous one in the U.S., and something that’s affected millions of Americans for many decades. And now, in a single summer, we’ve seen sweeping political action and massive public support for equality, specifically with regard to marriage rights but in culture in general, too. Thanks to the landmark Supreme Court ruling back in June, same-sex marriage is now legal nationwide—and yet, we don’t have a gay superhero?

This uncomfortable reality was brought up in a recent interview with Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige, and to his credit, he’s fully aware of the need for and possibility of such a superhero. Pointing out that Marvel Studios takes its inspiration from the comics and that those comics have a history of being quite progressive, Feige claimed that it likely won’t be long before an LGBT superhero is indeed put on screen. The attitude in the interview was essentially, “I don’t see why not.”

That’s not exactly a firm commitment, but it’s at least nice to hear that arguably the most powerful man in superhero cinema is more than open to the idea! And now the question becomes: who will the first LGBT superhero in mainstream cinema actually be?

Here are a few options that seem possible.

  • Elektra – Essentially Daredevil’s female counterpart, Elektra is seen on a list of LGBT Marvel characters and could certainly be brought back into the cinematic universe with this type of interpretation.
  • Jack Storm – Also mentioned on the list, Jack Storm is another take on the Human Torch, aka Johnny Storm, the character Michael B. Jordan is about to play in Fantastic Four. It’s unlikely Jordan’s character is gay, but it would be a clever surprise from the studio!
  • Mary Jane Watson – Marvel is rebooting Spider-Man, and there have been lesbian interpretations of MJ, so why not?

These are some of the more famous characters that have at least some historical association with the LGBT community. It’ll be interesting to see if any of them, or any other major characters, make it into Marvel’s empire as openly gay cinematic characters.

This is a guest post by longtime comics lover John Redkamp. A freelance writer by day, John spends his nights fighting crime… err, fighting his way through his various streaming queues.

May 27, 2020
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