As the superhero genre rounds off its second decade as the dominant force in Hollywood, it’s time studios started seriously including some of comics’ many LGBT heroes – and we have some suggestions. These aren’t the crude stereotypes that Saturday Night Live has toyed with in their “Saturday TV Funhouse” segments, but fully fleshed-out characters who, aside from their heroics, just so happen to have a sexual preference that doesn’t subscribe to a typically classic display of heteronormativity. Why they haven’t received the same sort of attention as other characters is anyone’s guess, but if ever there was a time to introduce these characters to the silver screen (and positioned away from some throwaway secondary status), it’s now. Even Magneto thinks so.
In 2018, a gay character will lead one of the most anticipated blockbusters in the form of Albus Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Just this past year, American Gods featured a gay romance between a mortal and a transcendental Jinn. Even Mortal Kombat introduced a gay character with Kung Jin. So, why stop there? Superhero movies are in their prime, and if studios want to elevate the impression they’re making on audiences, the next best step is broader inclusivity.
LGBT superheroes haven’t necessarily been tossed aside. They have a presence. It just so happens that their presence isn’t usually a focal point. For example, Karolina Dean (openly gay in the comics) is leading a team of mutant misfits in Marvel’s Runaways on Hulu; Karma (also openly gay) is part of the New Mutants, and though she won’t be showing up in the upcoming film, director Josh Boone has stated that she will show up in the sequels; and Obsidian and Pied Piper have appeared in CW’s Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash, respectively. So, yes, LGBT superheroes haven’t been pushed aside completely, but improvement is deserved in all facets of progression. Especially when audiences exist in all different spectrums of sexuality, it’s only right. Look at how pansexual Deadpool and bisexual Valkyrie have been realized in rather vague manners.
Now, here’s the caveat. As exciting as it would be to see the LGBT community earning equal recognition as their heterosexual neighbors, the film industry is a business after all. If a certain product isn’t driving in dollars, then audiences can’t realistically expect studios to simply take the loss and shovel money into something that won’t offer them any real shred of a monetary return. That being said, though, the comic industry hasn’t exactly stripped them of options. In terms of LGBT superheroes, there are (surprisingly) plenty to choose from.
In 2011, Warner Bros gave Green Lantern a shot with unfortunate results. Critically and commercially, the movie was a dud. However, that’s not to say that it was the character himself that deterred viewers. You can argue that DC didn’t necessarily learn its lesson ever since (save for Wonder Woman), but the superhero adaptation climate has evolved exponentially since then. The finesse with which they’re handled is on par with golden age Hollywood blockbusters. Gone are the days of throwaway superheroes (for the most part). So, seeing as the DCEU has already laid the groundwork for Green Lantern in either a solo film or as part of the Justice League sequel, this would be a perfect opportunity for WB to introduce a modern Alan Scott into the role.
The original Green Lantern was adorned with some modern touches in 2012, where it was revealed that the character is gay. If the character is already going to make his cinematic return, the ball is in WB’s court to take a chance on an honest portrayal of his character – especially given the fact that the DCEU tends to miss the mark so often on account of not taking any chances.
Aside from Green Lantern, though, other major plays in the DC universe who you may or may not know are part of the LGBT community include Harley Quinn and Catwoman. In 2016’s Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie stole the show as Quinn. As a result, not only is she returning to the sequel, she’s got three other movies in the pipeline as well as her own animated series. As the character is bisexual, it’s worth wondering whether or not her sexuality will at all play a role in any of those future projects. She, nor any other character/person, is defined by their sexuality, but given the platform to address the casual nature of her association with the LGBT community lends itself to normalize her particular identity, and by extension, the identity itself.
Catwoman is another bisexual character who just nearly got her own standalone film with Michelle Pfeiffer following Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, but it’s a project that ultimately fell apart. However, she’s set to return the big screen with Gotham City Sirens (alongside Harley, no less), which could spell even bigger things.
Rounding out the heavy hitters into whom studios could easily place plenty of faith is Mystique. Jennifer Lawrence’s version of the shapeshifter was nowhere near as antagonistic as she was when Rebecca Romijn had the role; she was portrayed as one of the heroes and more importantly, a main character. It would be a prime way to bring LGBT elements explicitly into the franchise that’s used it as a metaphor for decades, although perhaps that’s too much to ask of a film like X-Men: Dark Phoenix, which already has a lot on its plate.
Page 2 of 2: LGBT Characters That Movies Can Introduce
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