The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been quite slow in introducing LGBTQ+ characters – although even the most chaste representations of gay love get the movies banned in some countries, you can see why they would be reluctant.
Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness even breaks the record for most lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer characters in an MCU property with three. However, with two of them not talking and no one mentioning their sexuality out loud, there is clearly still work to be done when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation.
The MCU is pretty sexless in general, of course, but any mentions of homosexual sexuality were mostly very brief, to allow Disney to easily remove these scenes in more homophobic markets. It seems unlikely that this will change anytime soon — when these movies cost $200 million each, Disney can hardly afford to alienate a market. But movies like Eternals and Deadpool 2 have shown how more positive change can be made.
Read on for a (disappointingly short) list of characters confirmed to be LGBTQ+. By “confirmed” we mean that there is an explicit reference to their sexuality in the film, or that the actor who plays them has confirmed that their character is a member of the community.
In other words, sorry Deadpool: Until one of your directors is really brave enough to confirm your pansexuality on film, you’re not on the list. It also counts a character like Valkyrie, who actor Tessa Thompson said was bisexual, yet was not referenced in this Thor: Ragnarok (although apparently it will be in) Thor: Love and Thunderso we wait).
All LGBTQ+ characters in the MCU
Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Yukio
While it wasn’t in the MCU at the time, Disney’s subsequent purchase of Fox (and the announcement that Deadpool 3 is in development) technically makes these two mutants at the very least the first lesbian couple in the multiverse.
They also get one of the most explicit references to their sexuality – we even see them (SHOCK) holding hands and saying they’re a couple.
Avengers: Endgame made the mistake of trumpeting that it had the MCU’s first gay character before the movie came out. This raised expectations that would never be fulfilled by this short scene in which a man in a therapy group talks about his grief over the loss of his male partner in The Blip. The character, played by the film’s co-director, Joe Russo, doesn’t even have a name. Not exactly what the community meant when they said ‘representation matters’.
Loki and Sylvie
Loki had long been bisexual in the comics, but it wasn’t until his spin-off TV series that this was confirmed on screen. This was revealed in a conversation between Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and one of his multiverse equivalents, Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), where they discuss their dating history.
“You’re a prince,” Sylvie says to Loki. ‘Must have been aspiring princesses. Or maybe another prince?’
“A little bit of both,” Loki responds. “I suspect the same as you.” Kate Herron tweeted after the reveal: “It was very important to me, and my cause, to recognize that Loki was bisexual.”
Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) and his husband Ben (Haaz Sleiman)
Eternals may have been the first Marvel movie to get a “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but it did get the MCU its first male-male couple… well, technically male-eternal couple, not wanting to speculate about how gender works at Olympia. Phastos is also the franchise’s first gay superhero, and the pair share the franchise’s first gay kiss (and one of the few kisses in the MCU in general).
While his partner Ben doesn’t get much screen time, his casting makes a bold statement. Actor Haaz Sleiman is a gay man himself and was born in the United Arab Emirates. Although the film was released in the UAE, many of its neighbors banned it, prompting Sleiman to say: Variety†[Disney] stood their ground and said, ‘No, we are not going to compromise the integrity of our film’. It made these Arab countries so ignorant and pathetic.”
Marvel’s newest superhero, who made her debut in Doctor Strange 2, doesn’t mention her sexuality out loud — Disney was probably squeamish about a 14-year-old character talking too openly about their sexuality. However, the character was Marvel’s first lesbian to direct a comic book series, and her sexuality is mentioned in the film in two ways. She wears a Pride flag pin on her denim jacket, which also has “amor es amor” written on it. This translates to ‘love is love’, a common Pride slogan.
It may have only been a 12 second moment, but it was enough to get the film banned in Saudi Arabia. As we look back at how America Chavez discovered her powers, we learned that she was raised by my two mothers. Of course we don’t know how gender and sexuality work in whatever universe the characters come from, but we can safely assume that they are a lesbian couple.