Recently there’s been a fair amount of talk about the lack of LGBT representation in big, tentpole, blockbuster movie. It was brought into stark relief a couple of days ago when GLAAD released its Studio Responsibility Index, which revealed that no movie released by Disney in 2015 featured an LGBT character. It highlighted how the likes of the Marvel universe is completely straight.
However, now the director’s of Captain America: Civil War, Joe and Anthony Russo, have suggested they think there’s room to change that. When asked by Collider whether they think LGBT heroes will be brought into the Marvel universe, they said, “I think the chances are strong. I mean, it’s incumbent upon us as storytellers who are making mass-appeal movies to make mass-appeal movies, and to diversify as much as possible. It’s sad in the way that Hollywood lags behind other industries so significantly, one because you think that it would be a progressive industry, and two it’s such a visible industry. So I think it’s important that on all fronts we keep pushing for diversification because then the storytelling becomes more interesting, more rich, and more truthful.”
Admittedly that’s far from saying it’s going to happen, and it’s one thing for directors to be interested in it, and another to get studio executives to invest tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars in a film featuring LGBT characters and heroes. However, with the Russo’s directing the two-part Avengers: Infinity War, they will hopefully have some sway to get things moving in the right direction.
Earlier this year, the makers and cast of Deadpool loudly proclaimed that, as in the comics, the screen version of the character is pansexual, and saying that certainly didn’t hurt it at the box office. However, other than a few jokey comments, that pansexuality wasn’t particularly visible on-screen.
The Russo’s believe though that the success of Marvel may mean it’ll become easier for the studio to take a ‘risk’ on an LGBT heroes. They added, “I think this is a philosophy of Marvel, in success it becomes easier to take risks. There’s a lot of unconventional ideas in Civil War in terms of what people’s expectations of a superhero movie are, but I think we were able to do that because Winter Soldier worked and Marvel’s been working in general, so there’s more of a boldness in terms of what you can try and where you can go. So I think that’s very hopeful for all of us moving forward that bolder and bolder choices can be made.”
It will still be an uphill struggle though, as there’s still a massive fear in Hollywood that an LGBT hero in a massive tentpole movie would be box office poison in less gay-friendly countries such as Russia and China, and may result in a right-wing backlash that could effect returns in the US and other countries. Whether that’s true or not can’t really be tested until a studio makes a major movie with an LGBT lead, but it’s going to be tough to convince them to do that.