Marvel Studios has clearly begun working towards more diversity and better representation of groups like racial minorities and women, but after 11 years the only confirmed LGBTQA+ character in the MCU was nothing more than a one-off cameo. But over the past year, there have been several instances of Marvel Studios higher-ups hinting or even explicitly confirming gay characters are on the way, “Both ones [we’ve] seen and ones [we] haven’t seen,” according to Kevin Feige.
We know The Eternals is looking to cast an openly gay actor for a character that seems likely to be gay as well, so that would fall under the “haven’t seen” category. But in terms of potentially gay characters we have seen, there are a few possibilities we find noteworthy.
This one seems like a no-brainer for several reasons. Valkyrie is bisexual in the comics, having had relationships with both men and women. Tessa Thompson has said she carried this into her portrayal of the role in Thor: Ragnarok and there were scenes shot for the movie which would have confirmed it as an official part of MCU canon as well had they not been cut from the final film.
Thanks to the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Joe Russo support group cameo in Avengers: Endgame, Valkyrie won’t get the distinction of becoming the first confirmed LGBT+ character in the MCU after all (which really is a shame) but she could still be the first hero confirmed to be part of the community. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like she’s going to get that honor either, simply because it seems a confirmed LBGT+ hero will be appearing in a soon-to-be-released film or series and we don’t have any confirmation as to if or when Valkyrie will make her next appearance in the franchise.
Loki is another character who is canonically bisexual in the comics, so it would only make sense to carry that over to the onscreen Marvel Universe. Romantic and sexual endeavors aren’t something we’ve seen explored with this character in the MCU as of yet, and his solo series could be the perfect time to do so. (It may be worth noting the one time we have gotten anything close to resembling “content” in this department was a suggestive wink from the Grandmaster in Thor: Ragnarok.) Loki is also genderfluid in the comics, which could also be a very interesting avenue to explore in the upcoming Loki series on Disney+.
This one may seem out of left field and unlikely to happen, but hear us out. Unlike Valkyrie and Loki, the comics version of Bucky Barnes isn’t gay. The sexual orientation of the Bucky we see in the movies, however, has actually been debated pretty hotly on the internet over the past few years; many fans have viewed the close relationship between Bucky and Steve Rogers as queer-coded. It seemed pretty clear from the beginning of the Captain America saga they weren’t planning on going that direction, but the haphazard inclusion of the relationship between Steve and Sharon Carter in Captain America: Civil War and the events of the ending of Avengers: Endgame made the movies seem almost like they were going out of their way to show us that they weren’t gay. Well, at least that Steve wasn’t…
Bucky’s film counterpart is one of the biggest departures from the source material in the entire MCU and is actually a combination of two characters from the comics: Bucky Barnes, where he gets his name, original death, and Winter Soldier storyline from, and Arnie Roth. In the original comics, Arnie was the one who was Steve Rogers’s childhood friend who stood up for him against bullies before World War II (Bucky was a younger child in the original comics). The two of them later met again years after the war, and together they went on a rescue mission…to save Arnie’s boyfriend, Michael.
So while the “Steve and Bucky as a couple” ship has firmly sailed, the idea of Bucky being gay or bisexual in the MCU might not have quite yet, and could actually be an interesting idea to explore in the Falcon and the Winter Soldier series. We’ve seen Bucky show interest in women back in Captain America: The First Avenger, which could indicate bisexuality or could even have been just a front, as open homosexuality wasn’t nearly as common or accepted in 1940′s America the way it is in modern times. (It also may be worth noting that the “date” we saw him on was actually a double date with Steve as the other guy and that he showed much more concern for him that the women they were with.)
We’re not saying all of this is firm confirmation Bucky is or should be gay, but we do think there are a lot of interesting avenues this kind of revelation could take the character down. Did Bucky have one-sided feelings for a man he knows he could never be with? Or maybe he just was closeted in the 1940′s and might want to openly explore his sexuality now that he’s free from both the homophobia of the time period he grew up in and the torture and brainwashing he faced under HYDRA? It probably won’t happen, but it would be an interesting place to take this somewhat underdeveloped character who fans are excited to see more from.
Carol Danvers isn’t gay in the comics, and her film counterpart doesn’t directly borrow from any other characters who are, but a lot of fans have pointed out that there may have been some lesbian coding in her movie. In Captain Marvel, it’s clear that Carol’s closest relationship is with fellow pilot Maria Rambeau, a woman who she lived and raised a child with.
“Auntie Carol” dubbing by Maria’s daughter Monica notwithstanding, the revelation of the nature of this relationship being romantic – or even just of Carol being a lesbian – certainly wouldn’t come out of left field, seeing as – unlike with Steve Rogers – there has been no explicit romantic subplot for Carol (or Maria) in the MCU as of yet.
Many fans have already gotten on board with the idea of Carol being a lesbian, but even Carol’s actor herself, Brie Larson, seems like she might be here for it; she’s acknowledged the significance of Carol’s love for Maria and both she and Tessa Thompson – who plays the aforementioned Valkyrie – have shared fan content depicting their characters as a couple on social media. Ultimately, only time will tell as to whether Carol will officially have a girlfriend in a future movie, become romantically linked with a male character (she did have a relationship with James Rhodes in the comics) or if her love life continues to be a subject the filmmakers don’t touch on…explicitly, anyway.
Of course, there are many other characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that could easily be revealed to be part of the LGBTQA+ community, these are just some of the possibilities we could see happening, and we’re very intrigued to find out which character(s) it will be and how Marvel Studios will handle this type of representation.