The Thin, Straight Line
It’s Comic Book Week here at Can’t Talk Media and we are pleased to welcome back our resident ranter Justin! He has written another great article on LGBT inclusivity in comics and movies.
I guess that it’d be fitting for me to talk about the new Spider-Man casting, given how much bile I spewed previously over the possibility of Asa Butterfield taking the role. Thing is, I’ve spewed too much bile over the MCU already and just don’t feel in the mood. I could go on and on about how making Peter Parker a white boy literally undermines the entire point of axing the Amazing Spider-Man franchise and that not even high school will make that big of a difference. I could indeed make my fingers fall off by endlessly ranting about how crusty-ass white boy Peter Parker gives the delay of T’Challa and Carol into the MCU the underlying narrative that POCs and women don’t matter in the grand scheme of things to Marvel. (Especially when considering that there are plenty of female characters they do own that still don’t have their own film or TV show while we’re getting fucking Ant-Man and seriously, who the hell made that call?!)
I think I’ve just run out of things to be annoyed about with Marvel, surprisingly…
is what I would be saying, had Kevin Feige not basically opened his mouth and proceeded to shove his foot down so far that his pinky toe has shacked up with his bladder. While talking about Ant-Man, Feige was asked by Slashfilm about the possibility of seeing an LGBT character in the MCU, to which he replied that he’d “love it to find an organic, meaningful and natural way for that to happen at some point in the not so distant future.” Later, speaking with Collider, Feige added that he “would think” that the MCU will introduce an LGBT character within the next ten years.
No seriously, this is a thing that Feige said, and it comes off astonishingly tone deaf and insensitive. If there were someone higher up that was within earshot during these interviews, I imagine that would’ve just made a blitz for the guy and tackled him before he could finish his statement. I’m not even gonna touch the “ten years” thing, because there’s literally no way to spin that as anything but awful. But still, there’s a lot to unpack there; not only is he flat out saying that LGBT characters are lower on the list than minorities and women in terms of “characters who deserve their own solo films,” he also used the non-sexy ‘O’ word.
See, when marginalized voices ask for more representation (not just a bad punchline or token thrown into things arbitrarily) odds are that the creator or comments will reply that this representation has to come in “organically” or that they don’t want to have “forced diversity.” Let’s ignore the fact that including nothing but white people or dudes is “forced homogenization,” because irony is apparently lost on those people. Also ignore the iffy suggestion that not-straight characters need a reason to exist, because clearly if we aren’t here to pick up our mail, we may as well be chilling out in our queer dimensions trying to get our queer Netflix to connect to the fucking network.
Arguments about diversity being forced or unrealistic hold no weight when discussing a universe where dudes have fire hands and everyone’s punching each other in space in order to stay alive in the future continuity. In this day and age, it’s way more relatable to have characters that aren’t white going through struggles that mirror what people of color go through in real life. That’s why I personally advocate for the idea of Miles Morales in Spider-Man movie, since the current race issues going on in America would be an interesting setting to explore for a black teenager with superpowers and has to deal with people flipping between calling him a menace or a hero every other day.
I’ll be honest–I’m still not entirely sure why creators need a “reason” to have LGBT characters in their properites, particularly in the Cinematic Universe. The MCU is largely based on Marvel’s Ultimate universe (which itself is ending due to Secret Wars) and has had no problem changing or outright nixing stuff they didn’t like. I’m not sure why they can’t just say that some of their characters are not straight.
I can’t even tell you how many people on the internet say that Captain America should be in a bisexual polyamorous relationship with Peggy Carter and Bucky Barnes in WWII era or Black Widow and Falcon in the present, or who think that Quicksilver is gay, in addition to being dead, spoiler warning. If anyone has an issue with these characters being not-straight, well tough shit, Marvel can just counter it with “different universe, some stuff has changed”. Hell, they didn’t have any problems making Tony Ultron’s creator, or making the Maximoffs apparently not Jewish or Romani, or birthing Vision via an Infinity Stone, and plenty of other things that have happened in the films but weren’t in the comics. The Guardians of the Galaxy have two female characters that are in a romantic relationship in the comics, but they’re nowhere to be seen in the film itself (Guardians writer James Gunn has said they may be included in Guardians Vol. 2, but wait and see on that).
Bottom line, there doesn’t need to be a reason to include non-straight characters in your fiction, just put them in there. We exist, we have lives, we do things besides be queer (we go skydiving on Fridays). To deny us right to be in your fiction unless we’ve got a special passport is skeezy on about eight different levels, and since we Americans are currently having a massive boner over love winning, we need to actually stick by that and change things to show that love truly has won.
(image credit: The Pile of Spider Man by Ryan Hyde Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)