Marvel Fans' #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend Campaign Sparks Response From GLAAD
While this week saw controversy over Marvel's hero for a different reason, prior to the big comic book reveal fans were hyping a campaign for Steve Rogers to get a canonical boyfriend using the hashtag #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend.
You may recall GLAAD recently weighed in on last year's movie releases. Spoiler: almost everyone did terribly when it came to LGBTQ+ representation. They made it a specific point at the time to call out Marvel's parent company, Disney, for where they could improve in both their animated and science fiction projects.
"It's getting increasingly difficult to ignore that LGBT people remain almost completely shut out of Hollywood's big budget comic films that have dominated the box office over the past couple of years," said Megan Townsend, GLAAD's entertainment media strategist, who noted there are LGBT characters in both the source comics and in television adaptations, but not on the big screen.
Tuesday's trending was powered by both advocates and dissenters. Scores of Twitter users suggested that Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) be paired up with his old friend Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), who has been a significant player in all three "Captain America" films. But other tweets decried the rallying call, stressing that the character has never been gay in the comic book source material.
Townsend disagrees. In fictional worlds, she said, there's "room for established characters to have backstories built out that we weren't aware of."
And I would be of the same mind, stories and characters are constantly evolving, but not everyone is comfortable with such a change. Some say it doesn't make sense simply because Steve Rogers has been presented as heterosexual in the past to which I'd have to say, so what? Rule number one, creators can do whatever they want. But too often creators fall back on what they feel is the "default" in society, which is why we have so many movies starring heterosexual white people. Representation is so important but most of the time it's not even considered as part of the conversation, which is why hashtag campaigns like this are important. They create visibility.
But Steve having been with women in the comics up until now doesn't preclude him from being with someone of another gender moving forward. Steve, like many people in the real world, could develop feelings for someone else later on in life. Or, he could be bisexual. Or pansexual. Nothing from Captain America's past needs to be erased in order to evolve his character. It's just that some people don't like the idea of it. It makes them uncomfortable. "Make a new character," they'll say, knowing full well having an already established and popular character being revealed as queer would have a much larger impact on society than one no one has heard of.
And there are LGBTQ+ characters in Marvel Comics but wouldn't you know it, we've never seen that on the big screen (from Marvel Entertainment or other rights holders). Even Deadpool, called omnisexual by comic writers and creators, called pansexual by the film's director, and Ryan Reynolds being totally open to Wade Wilson having a boyfriend amounted to nothing in the film itself. And it totally should have.
Neither Disney nor Marvel responded to the Associated Press' requests for comment but I hope they, and perhaps actor Chris Evans, are listening and learning.