Disney is supporting LGBTQ characters in upcoming movies

Marvel has plans for many more LGBTQ characters, starting with its next movie.

Again, Disney (SAY) finds itself embroiled in a political quagmire over its support of the LGBTQ community, after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis punished Disney for speaking out on its “Don’t Say Gay Bill”, seeking to revoke the designation of Disney World as a special tax district (which, as we’ve pointed out, is ultimately a meaningless move).

And again, the company doesn’t seem willing to back down in support of the LGBTQ community.

This time it comes down to one of the crown jewels of Disney, Marvel Studios and the inclusion of an LGBTQ character in one of its highly anticipated upcoming films.

Marvel Comics has openly featured LGBTQ characters in comic books since 1992, when the mutant and “Alpha Flight” character Northstar came out of the comics.

In 2005, Marvel introduced a new team of teenage superheroes called the “Young Avengers”, which contained a number of LGBTQ characters, and is generally considered to be when Marvel started striving to tell more stories. featuring queer characters.

But Marvel Studios is a different matter altogether, with a lot more money at stake, which makes executives overly cautious.

When the Marvel Cinematic Universe officially kicked off in 2008 with “Iron Man” and began to take over the film industry after the record-breaking success of “The Avengers” in 2012, there were no LGBTQ characters on screen.

That’s recently started to change, and now it looks like Marvel is making its biggest push towards LGBTQ representation onscreen, but not without some pushback.

Which Marvel movie is causing controversy?

Marvel will release its latest film, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” on May 5, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular wizard.

The film will see the introduction of the character America Chavez, a teenage superhero with super strength, flight, and the useful ability to punch holes in reality that allow him to travel across the multiverse. (Marvel is all about the multiverse these days.) In the comics, America Chavez (who will be played by Xochitl Gomez) is a lesbian.

At first, Marvel President Kevin Feige didn’t really say whether the character would be portrayed as gay in the film, and reviews for the film have yet to be released.

But last week, news broke that the film had been banned in Saudi Arabia due to the portrayal of America Chavez, as the Hollywood Reporter notes “With homosexuality officially illegal in the Gulf, films that feature LGBTQ references or issues often fail to pass censors.

Now, the Saudi film classification committee disputes those claims, saying the film is not banned, but the committee needs edits before it can be shown in the region.

Nawaf Alsabhan, general supervisor of cinema classification in Saudi Arabia, said the problem boiled down to “12 seconds” of the film in which Chavez mentions his “two moms”.

The Classification Board requested that those 12 seconds be removed, but so far Marvel refuses to do so.

“Being in the Middle East, it’s very difficult to pass something like that,” Alsabhan told Variety. “We sent it to the distributor, and the distributor sent it to Disney, and Disney told us they didn’t want it.”

The movie was supposed to be released on May 5 in the Gulf, but so far it’s unclear if that will happen or not.

marvel studios

Marvel doesn’t back down from LGBTQ characters

While Marvel would allow characters in its Netflix shows to be gay, including a “Jessica Jones” character, it was more finicky about movies. But it looks like pressure from fans and creators for greater LGBTQ inclusion is forcing the company’s hand.

Last year’s “Eternals” featured a gay charter named Phastos, played by Brian Tyree Henry and described as having a husband. The film was not released in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait because of the couple, which drew criticism from actress Angelina Jolie and other cast members. A version of the film without any reference to Phastos’ sexuality was released in the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.

China also regularly bans films with LGBTQ content. “Eternals” was not released in the country, but it has been speculated that this was due as much to Phastos as to director Chloe Zhao’s criticism of the Chinese government.

While it’s unclear exactly how gay America Chavez will be allowed to be onscreen, Marvel has big plans for the fan-favorite character. She will appear next year in “The Marvels,” a sequel to 2019’s “Captain Marvel” starring Brie Larson.

On the more speculative side of things, America Chavez has traditionally been a member of the Young Avengers, and while Marvel hasn’t announced a Disney+ movie or show about the team, several comic book characters were introduced in the year. last, including the Kate Bishop version of Hawkeye in last year’s “Hawkeye” and Scarlet Witch’s sons Speed ​​and Wiccan were featured in last year’s “WandaVision.” (In the comics, Wiccan is gay and in a relationship with his teammate Hulkling.)

With more teenage superheroes on Marvel’s path, including “Ms. Marvel” (about a Pakistani-American teenager with shape-shifting powers) and next year’s “Ironheart” (about of an African-American teenage genius who builds his own Iron Man armor), a next-gen team event that will also include Chavez as a Wiccan seems inevitable.

Plus, a frustrating near miss for people who want to see more inclusion in Marvel movies is that director Taika Waititi said there was a scene in “Thor: Ragnarok” that would have confirmed the super character. -Tessa Thompson’s hero, Valkyrie, because queer was cut for time.

But for the upcoming “Thor: Love and Thunder” sequel, which hits theaters on July 8, there will be an LGBTQ-focused romance for the character, as Feige has taken to saying that Phastos is “just the beginning” of the story. Marvel’s LGBTQ representation. .

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This story was originally published April 26, 2022 2:26 p.m.

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