Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off in 2008, the comic book titan has risen to the top of the film industry. However, it has done so despite criticism about a lack of diversity in the casting of its heroes. Lately, Marvel has made a very clear effort to incorporate and announce more female heroes, and more heroes of color. But less has been done about the lack of prominent LGBT characters in Marvel.
On screen, this was lightly addressed with last year’s Jessica Jones, a Netflix series that brought the titular hero to life for modern audiences for the first time. It was praised for covering a lot of material the MCU had until that point ignored, including drug and alcohol use, sexual abuse, and the basic idea of a female hero taking on a male villain. And the series also contained a lesbian love triangle, not involving Jessica Jones but rather a few other prominent characters. It was certainly a step in the right direction, though still a far cry from the introduction of a major LGBT hero.
Perhaps in keeping with the MCU’s slow but sure progress toward more inclusive casting, Marvel has actually made a few recent announcements about LGBT characters who will be headlining new comic editions. First up will be Miss America, described by Comicbook.com as “a Latin-American character and a member of the LGBT community.” Miss America is a relatively new character, created in 2011 and best known for her appearances in the Young Avengers series. But now, even as she continues in a few other comics, she’ll be getting her own series.
Additionally, there will be a new series revolving around Iceman, who may actually be Marvel’s most prominent gay superhero. According to Inverse, the character (whose real name is Bobby Drake) will be the main focus of ResurrXion, which is to be the first series “after the dust settles” from Inhumans vs. X-Men. In the comic world, the X-Men are in pretty dire straits, and it sounds as if Iceman, who was outed as a gay hero earlier in Inhumans vs. X-Men, will be among the first to pick up the pieces.
It’s impossible to know at this stage how much the LGBT community will be emphasized in these two new series, but the fact that they’re both part of the upcoming Marvel lineup probably indicates that the company is aware of the need to better represent this community moving forward. The interesting question now will be where else we might see these two characters, if at all.
One interesting possibility is that they could fairly naturally pop up in a Marvel video game. There are actually several games out there online incorporating MMO and multiple apps in particular known specifically for incorporating large swaths of Marvel characters in playable capacities. Iceman is actually already featured in the MMO (Marvel Heroes 2016), and given the general vastness of the game, Miss America could one day follow. Either could also be injected into the Marvel mobile games with relative ease (with Iceman probably the likelier choice given these games’ growing selections of X-Men characters).
The other option would be for one or both characters to emerge as Marvel representatives in the company’s themed slot gaming content. As made evident on Betfair, this content already includes slots and jackpots based on plenty of Marvel characters, including major figures like Wolverine and the Avengers, but also some that might be considered more “fringe” in modern entertainment. For instance, Elektra and Blade each headline their own games. It seems as if Marvel uses these kinds of games to help prop up characters that either don’t exist in the MCU or may soon be plugged into it.
And that of course brings us to the other possibility, which is that Iceman or Miss America might soon appear in the MCU, or in 20th Century Fox’s X-Men universe for that matter. Both might initially seem like long shots, but they could actually make for fairly natural inclusions. In the case of Iceman, this is because he’s actually been around before. Bobby Drake was played by Shawn Ashmore in several of the X-Men films, even if he wasn’t quite a main focus in any of them. The comics contain multiple versions of the character on different timelines though, and an older version with more of his own story to tell could actually be a pretty interesting hero for Fox to pursue. They’re already working on Logan, which will take place in the future with an aged Wolverine. In the case of Miss America, meanwhile, the path to cinema is less obvious. However, it’s worth noting that she’s largely a mystical hero with the capability to dive between dimensions, which seems to be pretty neatly in line with the direction Marvel is taking in Doctor Strange.
Ultimately, the forthcoming comics are pretty exciting for those who have been wishing to see more representation of the LGBT community in modern hero stories. But should the comics succeed, there is also more reason to hope that LGBT characters earn more prominent positions in other areas of modern Marvel entertainment.