Arts and Entertainment

Current Marvel Characters That Would Have Been Better LGBTQ+ Representation for “Avengers: Endgame”

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Issue 16, Volume 109

By Caroline Pickering 

“Avengers: Endgame Set to Have First Openly Gay Character!” “Avengers Endgame Has an Openly Gay Character, and It's Not Who You Think” Headlines like these flood my Instagram explore page as I vibrate with anticipation for the movie. It is clear that executives such as Kevin Feige have been very vocal about starting to include LGBTQ+ characters in their films, so I’m excited to see Marvel’s first LGBTQ+ representation on screen, eager to see which of my favorite heroes it could be. I get to the theater and sit in a seat, and the moment arrives.

And it's the obligatory director cameo.

One of the directors, Joe Russo, portrays the unnamed “Grieving Man,” or “Gay Joe Russo,” as fans like to refer to him. Hey, at least he can have an actual name, right? It's not to say the act wasn’t appreciated; it is always nice to see more LGBTQ+ representation in the media. The problem is that for directors who claim they have “always wanted to have a gay character in one of their movies,” they barely make it count. An unnamed man with three lines about his date isn’t a character. It’s filler material so they can tell themselves they’re good people without really putting the effort in—that is, in a task where little effort is even required. It isn’t fair to the LGBTQ+ members of the audience, who have no one like them on screen, to have been promised representation just to have it be an underwelming, worthless stand-in we’ll never meet again.

Needless to say, between fan speculation and comic book confirmation, there is a myriad of actual heroes who would have made a better first openly LGBTQ+ superhero than Gay Joe Russo. Here is a list of former and current Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) heroes that could possibly be (or have been) the next LGBTQ+ character:

Iron Man (Tony Stark)

Though he ends up marrying Pepper Potts in “Avengers: Endgame” (2019), Tony Stark flirts with almost everyone he meets. Fans have set him up with various characters, most popularly Potts and Captain America. It would make perfect sense that Stark is bisexual, especially since it has been confirmed in the comics, with Stark famously having his Tinder account open to both men and women. Though “Endgame” was Stark’s last appearance in the Marvel films, it would have been nice to see Marvel explore his sexuality more in the films.

Loki Odinson

The god of mischief is probably one of the most famous openly LGBTQ+ characters in the MCU, having been confirmed as being both pansexual and genderfluid in the comics. Marvel hasn’t shied away from hinting at Odinson’s sexuality, alluding to the god having a (more than likely) sexual relationship with the Grandmaster in “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017). The character has also had a history of shapeshifting into women in the past, even taking on a female form known as Lady Loki. Fans hope to see her as a possible reincarnation now that the character is presumed dead by the hands of Thanos. With a series set to air on Disney+, there is still plenty of time to hope that we will see representation in the form of everyone’s favorite trickster.

Captain America (Steve Rogers)

Fans have been petitioning for years to make the character canonically bisexual in the films and in comics, and the seeds have been sown for him to have a potential relationship with several characters, both male and female. Unfortunately, the character was straight-washed to the end of the line, only ever canonically having romantic flames with Peggy Carter and her niece, Sharon (yes it's weird, all aside from the writers are aware). However, that hasn’t stopped fans from pointing out the intense sexual tension between Rogers and his best friend, Bucky Barnes; not to mention, the majority of the Marvel fanbase paired him up with Tony Stark in both the comics and the movies. In fact, the character was so widely assumed to be LGBTQ+ in the movies—even by Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Nick Fury on screen—that it is highly speculated that the stale, forced, technically incestuous relationship was only written so people would stop campaigning for the character to have a gay relationship.

The Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes)

Speaking of Captain America’s gay relationship, who better to be his partner than someone who’s known him since he was 12? Arguably the gayest character in the MCU until Captain Marvel, Barnes would be the perfect character to introduce the LGBTQ+ community into the MCU. Though we haven’t seen much of him (because Marvel can’t seem to write his character), there hasn’t been a single straight thing he’s done. He calls Steve Rogers a “punk” in “Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011), which was slang in the 1940s for “twink.” Additionally, for years, he followed Rogers around, taking care of him and even offering to live with him after his mom died in 1936. And how could anyone forget how Barnes broke through nearly 70 years worth of brainwashing when Rogers uttered what are considered to be marriage vows in the MCU? In fact, the two are so highly regarded as a couple that they were ranked #10 overall in most popular “ship” on Tumblr in 2018 and #8 in 2016. This goes for the comics as well, with writer Mark Millar saying how he believed that Barnes was in love with Rogers at one point in time. Additionally, the actor who plays Barnes, Sebastian Stan, has played gay characters several times in the past, and he has said that he would be open to doing it again. Hopefully, we will be able to see Barnes interacting with other characters in the “Falcon and Winter Soldier” series set to air on Disney+ and be able to find a male love interest.

Spiderman (Peter Parker)

Since the beginning of time, fans have flocked to the Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman, and his newest MCU reincarnation only bolstered the webslinger’s popularity. Many fans of the character have been petitioning to make him bisexual for years, the movement gaining so much momentum that Andrew Garfield, who played the character in “The Amazing Spider-Man” (2012) and in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (2014), campaigned directly to Sony. This ended ultimately in disaster, when it was revealed that Sony had forced Marvel to sign a deal that Peter Parker would always be a straight white male. Garfield was also fired from the role. However, the deal never said that he has to be a cisgender male. Several fans have pointed out that several aspects of his character mirror the experiences of a transgender male. It would be nice to see more representation of the gender spectrum among the main characters.

Valkyrie (Brunnhilde)

Famously bisexual in the comics, the character Brunnhilde came to life in “Thor: Ragnarok.” Though her sexuality was going to be referred to in the film, the scene was ultimately cut. However, actress Tessa Thompson has stated on her Twitter that her character is bisexual, as well as actively supporting the growing group of fans who want to see her and Captain Marvel in a relationship.

Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers)

Thompson is not alone in supporting Danvers’s and Brunnhilde’s relationship. Brie Larson, who plays Danvers, has also agreed that the two would be a perfect couple. Fans have pointed out that Danvers’s interest in the air force follows a trend in lesbian history. Also noteworthy is her close relationship with her best friend Maria Rambeau. Her new, classic comic book haircut is also a relatively popular style for LGBTQ+ women.

Since their origin, comic books and their creators have advocated for media diversity so that everyone can have a voice. It is what has drawn so many people to them over the years. In the past two years, Marvel has done a lot to show this in their film adaptations with films such as “Captain Marvel” (2019) and “Black Panther” (2018). With confirmation that at least one LGBTQ+ character is going to come out soon, the MCU is aspiring to become just as diverse as its comic book inspirations. Hopefully, this incidence of queerbaiting, where writers will vaguely hint at an LGBTQ+ character or romance but never follow through, is just a rough start to a brighter future. Fans everywhere are eager to see which of their favorite characters will be the first real LGBTQ+ representation for the franchise.