Pride Month is in full swing, meaning people, organizations, and even companies are celebrating or showing support for LGBTQ+ persons across the globe. Marvel is certainly one of those companies, and the brand is eager to highlight its queer representation in its properties. Previously, we have taken a look back at one of Marvel Comics’ milestones. And while the comics certainly have more history to draw from, the Marvel Cinematic Universe notably lags in LGBTQ+ representation across its franchise.
The MCU is absolutely gaining momentum here, with recent additions such as Phastos in Eternals and America Chavez in Doctor: Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The franchise even promises more inclusion in the near future with characters like Valkyrie in Thor: Love and Thunder. As with any underrepresented group, there is always pushback from an unfortunate corner of the supposed fandom when any major (or minor) character is explicitly queer.
While we can celebrate the progress the MCU has made and is continuing to make, there is room for the Disney-owned company to make a significant and bold statement in support of LGBTQ+ representation on screen. The MCU needs a strong queer icon, and there is no better choice than the Merc with a Mouth himself. Below are four major reasons why Deadpool should be MCU’s LGBTQ+ icon.
Deadpool Has Long Been Established as LGBTQ+
Important to any conversation about queer representation is an understanding of the character themselves. In Deadpool’s case, there is no question that Wade Wilson is an out member of the LGBTQ+ community. The comics antihero was first confirmed as pansexual by writer Gerry Duggan, though the terminology to describe Deadpool’s sexuality has fittingly been in flux—the character’s co-creator Fabian Nicieza emphasized this back in 2015.
Deadpool has become well-known as a pansexual symbol for many, including Fox-universe Deadpool director Tim Miller, who previously expressed his support for showcasing Deadpool’s sexuality in the movie franchise. While the character clearly has a female love interest in the live-action franchise, any viewer simply has to pay attention to Deadpool and Deadpool 2’s dialogue to know that the character’s interests go beyond the opposite sex.
In any event, the fact that Deadpool is already a well-known queer character in the comics and has the support of many of the films’ creators, including actor Ryan Reynolds (see below), to bring that aspect of the hero into live-action is a perfect starting point for the character to further embrace that when he makes his MCU debut.
Deadpool Is High-Profile
When any franchise begins to embrace and increase diversity among its characters, those characters tend to often get assigned more minor roles. It does not take rocket science to understand why, but it is another reason why the MCU should wholeheartedly embrace Deadpool as LGBTQ+. Of course, the more prominent a queer character is, the more backlash they will receive. But frankly, Deadpool is already beloved across wide demographics. While he has not made his MCU debut yet, the character is established in the greater Marvel film universe, so opinions of the super-powered mercenary have already been formed. If Deadpool were to act as one of the leading LGBTQ+ characters of the MCU, it would give the character a huge platform for representation that other characters simply do not have yet.
Deadpool’s Fan Base Spans a Wide Demographic
It goes without saying that LGBTQ+ people—and fictional characters by extension—are subject to a wide range of stereotypes and discrimination based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Certain segments of the population, including MCU fans, support queer inclusion less than others. When new LGBTQ+ characters are introduced, it is quite easy for those people to immediately be hostile toward the idea that a single character in a movie may make them uncomfortable. For example, both Phastos and America Chavez were queer characters of color, which led to hatred and accusations of “wokeness” long before their respective films were ever released.
Make no mistake, all LGBTQ+ characters—including women, trans, and those of color—should be fully supported by the MCU, Disney, and the vast majority of fans who have no issue with characters reflecting the real world. But in an age where the ignorant backlash is so common, Deadpool is a character that, for several reasons, has the advantage to cut through much of that in the MCU. That can be a win for the character, but it should be recognized that it could help pave the way for other queer characters.
Deadpool is well known for being vulgar and hyperviolent among plenty of other traits. He is loved for his mature themes as well as his basic charisma and humor. The character is a hit across nearly all adult and teen demographics, and that includes demographics that may otherwise not be so supportive of LGBTQ+ representation. If the MCU’s Deadpool 3, for example, made the hero’s sexuality explicit and left no room for audiences to argue whether or not he is queer, Deadpool then becomes a symbol or icon for LGBTQ+ people across the board. In addition, it may force certain groups of people to question their assumptions and biases if one of their favorite characters also happens to not be straight.
Deadpool’s LGBTQ+ Identity Has Ryan Reynolds’ Support
There is no dancing around the fact that actor Ryan Reynolds, the epitome of Deadpool, is well-loved and respected in the entertainment community generally as well as for his embodiment of Wade Wilson. Reynolds has several times made it clear that he would love for the Deadpool franchise to explore Deadpool’s pansexuality, and very much wants Marvel to let the character be explicitly queer in the future. Deadpool 3 will actually be Marvel Studios’ first non-Spider-Man co-production, with Reynolds’ Maximum Effort Productions also in the producer’s role. While Reynolds will not have unilateral control over the character’s future, he undoubtedly has a lot. With the support of someone as powerful as the actor/producer/businessman is, though, the amount to which MCU could push the envelope with Deadpool’s LGBTQ+ identity could be significantly increased.
In conclusion, no one character is the perfect icon for an entire group, including the LGBTQ+ community, nor should they be. Queer MCU fans, and queer people in general, deserve to have major franchises better represent them and better represent reality. If the MCU were to fully embrace Deadpool’s LGBTQ+ identity, whether it is explicitly pansexual or described/defined in some other way, it could be one of the strongest moves Marvel Studios could make in terms of supporting the diversity of their characters and audiences.
The character is already well-known to be queer; the Deadpool franchise creators, producers, and actors strongly support the move; and the character’s more formal cinematic coming out would have a ripple effect through numerous groups and demographics that would almost certainly strengthen the general MCU fanbase’s support, acceptance, and love for LGBTQ+ characters.