If you had asked me three years ago which Marvel movie would be the first to have canon, on-screen queer lady characters, I’m not sure I would have been able to guess it would be Deadpool.
Though, given that Deadpool is the black sheep of the Marvel family with its R rating compared to the others’ PG-13… maybe I should have. Because while I would like to believe the first canon lesbians being in the only R-rated Marvel movie is a coincidence, something tells me it’s not.
I guess now is a good time as ever to let you know that there will be spoilers for Deadpool 1 and 2 ahead. You’ve been warned.
Now, before I go any further, I want to make it clear that when I saw “canon, on-screen” when referring to queer lady characters, I am a) only talking about movies, as there are lesbians in the Netflix Marvel universe, and b) not including characters who were queer in the comics, or were confirmed as part of the LGBTQ+ community by creators or actors after the fact. I like to pass representation through a very specific filter before I assess it. You see, my dad consumes almost as much media as I do, and we talk a lot about a lot, so he’s pretty good about telling me when a lesbian pops up on one of the shows he watches but I don’t, like NCIS. But the thing is, my dad rarely, if ever, reads articles about the shows he watches, and he is definitely not on Twitter. Hell, we have had conversations where he has been like, “Oh when does X show come back?” and I’ve had to break the news that X show was cancelled…two years ago. So when I’m on the fence about the subtlety of representation, I pass it through the Dad-filter. And this Dad-filter works both ways; he once, entirely unprompted, told me that he thought Lena and Kara were into each other on Supergirl. But also, he had no idea Valkyrie was supposed to be bisexual in Thor: Ragnarok. So as much as I appreciate Tessa Thompson speaking out about Valkyrie’s bisexuality after the fact, and despite any interviews that discussed it after its release, as far as my dad is concerned (and therefore, I imagine, plenty of other people), Valkyrie didn’t register as queer at all.
Now, the same can’t be said for Negasonic Teenage Warhead in Deadpool 2. Negasonic Teenage Warhead was a revered, though sardonic, ally in the first Deadpool movie, and when she first appears in the sequel, she is holding hands with her new girlfriend, Yukio. Deadpool is surprised by this revelation, and while Negasonic Teenage Warhead’s first reaction to this was to accuse him of being a bigot, he responds by saying he can’t believe anyone would date her at all, which is exactly the kind of relationship they have.
While there’s no kissing or deep conversations between these two characters in this movie, and even though no one makes a big thing of it, there is no doubt that they are dating. Even the most conservative/in-denial person couldn’t deny that these two are girlfriends. No need to fear gal-pal-itis. And what’s more, toward the end, they swooped in to save their dude-buddy instead of the other way around. (Bonus fact! The actress who plays Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Briana Hildebrand, is queer in real life.)
Also this is beside the point but Domino, played by Zazie Beetz, was a fierce, badass female character I am now obsessed with. Though, I’ll admit, this was my first exposure to the character, and I thought it was pretty cool how it looked like this Black woman with vitiligo just naturally had a spot over her eye that was reminiscent of a domino and her mutant ability had to do with luck — or that her mutation caused it. That’s how it always works, right? Wolverine has a wolfish look about him, Storm has ice-white hair. I genuinely didn’t think anything of it until I Googled “Domino” in the interest of reading some of her comics. After the racist bullshit I saw on the matter, I think I’ll stick with the Zazie Beetz version, if you don’t mind. Because despite how many times Deadpool told her “luck” wasn’t a power, she strolled fearlessly into the face of danger and won every time.
So, while I could have done without the fridging, overall I enjoyed Deadpool 2. For its humor, for its action sequences, for its relentless breaking of the fourth wall, and for giving us real, undeniable queer ladies. I hope other Marvel movies will a) specifically include Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Yukio (and Domino!) and b) make the casual introduction of LGBTQ+ characters a more common occurrence.
One last post-credit scene from me: a cool (spoilery) thing is that Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Yukio were both in the Deadpool 2 post-credit scene, which could mean nothing, but could mean they will show up in movies between now and Deadpool 3. Or, at the very least, Deadpool 3 itself. I think this is a great step for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
I’m pretty sure they will have future films. I know a lot of the reshoots for Deadpool 2 were to add more Domino after all test audiences worldwide asked for more of her (heck, Domino was so big in South Korea she was often the face of the film.)
Also, Ryan Reynolds has been pretty explicit in interviews that he doesn’t even have plans for a Deadpool 3 and hopes that this will instead launch a series of X-Force movies. So while it was a joke in the trailer, I’m pretty sure he was serious about wanting to cast actors and actresses who could helm a franchise for a decade.
Oh, weird, there’s a Deadpool 3 listed on his IMDb already; I would totally be into X-Force movies!
I could totally be wrong! And Ryan may not be the end-all-be-all of sequels when they make this kind of money. I just know he’s said a few times he’d rather it be X-Force.
I believe that “Deadpool 2” is a lead-in to an “X-Force” movie. If that’s true, then “X-Force” would almost certainly have NTW and Yukio.
Count me as very much not surprised that it was in Deadpool for everything from the mentality of the original comic to the fact the whole franchise owes its existence to insiders trolling their own studio by releasing the short to the net.
Negasonic Teenage Warhead (and Yukio!) are the first Marvel Canonically lesbian characters, but not first in a major superhero release. Remember Silhouette from Watchmen (my other big crush) appeared a few times with her lesbianism being front and center. She was murdered before the current storyline but I am sure her dip kiss of the nurse in the beginning of the movie replacing the sailor at the end of WWII is remembered…fondly…in some quarters. Still, it is good to see Negasonic shown positively and she and Yukio even got to live!
That’s why I specified Marvel – well, not specifically about Watchmen, I didn’t know about Silhouette but am adding that to my movie list STAT! But I know, for example, there was queerness in Power Rangers, etc, and didn’t know for sure about other superhero movies, so I kept it to Marvel only! :)
She’s killed off in the opening exposition (specifically for being queer) and doesn’t have any lines. Fair warning for disturbing imagery, as they show the murder scene.
So I know *nothing* about the Deadpool comics – is it intentional that Yukio has an incredibly male-coded name, or is this another round of White Writers Throw Some Japanese Morae At The Wall And Hope It Works Out?
I don’t know much about the comics, but from what I read, Yukio is from the comics, so she wasn’t invented for the movie. I also found this: “It has been hinted upon by Wolverine that Yukio’s real first name could be ‘Yukiko’.” So maybe she changed it!
I’m going to be That Comic Book Person for a second and give you way more information than you wanted, but in my opinion, the history of Yukio is pretty cool.
The movie’s Yukio actually bears little resemblance to the Yukio of the comics, but she clearly owes something to the Yukio character from The Wolverine (2013). The original Yukio was created by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller in 1982 and was a major character in the Wolverine mini-series (which largely inspired the aforementioned movie). In this incarnation, Yukio was not a mutant at all, just an incredibly badass human. She was a deadly assassin and Mariko’s rival for Wolverine’s affections, wanting him to remain animalistic and live for the moment, as she did. After the Wolverine mini-series ended, she jumped to the main X-Men comic and had a few adventures with them when they went to Japan.
Here’s the really interesting part. Chris Claremont had always intended for Yukio to be bisexual (honestly, if you’ve ever read Claremont’s X-Men, nearly every damn female character could be read as bisexual…Kitty, Rachel, Ororo, Illyana…but I digress) and not just in the “oh it’s a tacked-on aspect of her character” way. He had meant for her to have a relationship with Storm, but it being the 1980s, Marvel higher-ups nixed this (note that they had also nixed his plans to have Mystique and Destiny, her female lover/life partner, be the biological parents of Nightcrawler). However, they did have an extremely close friendship, and have you ever seen the 80s costume change where Storm suddenly adopted a mohawk and looked like a punk rocker? That was Yukio’s doing. I believe that helped inspire new!Storm’s costume in X-Men: Apocalypse.
As a complete and total aside, I know Kitty Pryde is about to marry Colossus in the comics, and I will probably buy that issue, but when I met Chris Claremont last year he told me that in his headcanon Kitty marries Rachel Grey (alternate-timeline daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey), so I’m sticking with that. He also ships Logan with Jean, which didn’t hurt my feelings either. #WolverineandJean4ever #I’llgodownwiththisship
Thank you for this!!
I didn’t like the fridging either, but those post-credits scenes were confirmed canon, so there’s that!
Yeah that’s why I didn’t dwell on it! Just in case it’s truuuue!
Negasonic and Yukio are so freaking adorable and perfect! Love them to pieces. And Domino was amazing! I’m incredibly in love with her and Zazie Beetz is so gorgeous I can’t deal.
I’m not the least bit surprised the first on-screen canon lesbian Marvel character appeared in Deadpool, since Deadpool himself is canonically pansexual. They didn’t shy away much from the overall queerness that is Deadpool comic canon.
Also, I am all over that Domino appreciation life. She stole the show. I really hope they lead this into an X-Force franchise and bring her back for about a billion movies. Please and thank you.
I know absolutely nothing about comic books or the films based on them, but I’d assume Wolverine’s looks are based on a wolverine (a badass, disproportionally powerful weasel known to bully bears into giving up their prey) rather than a wolf.
I’d say it’s more like his personality is based on it than his looks. Funny enough, Dave Cockrum designed Logan’s face after his trademark cowl, making his pointy hair match the shape of the mask. They had originally intended him to be a punk kid with red hair, but things work out just like they’re supposed to, I think.
I actually think Wolverine’s portrayal in the movies is not particularly true to the comics. I love Hugh Jackman and would gladly buy him a beer on sight, but he is tall and attractive – two things Wolverine canonically is not. He’s supposed to be a short, gnarly-looking dude, and not the face of the franchise. I say this as a huge Wolverine fangirl. The character was ruined by overexposure. I adore what Jackman brought to the character and thought that the Logan movie was an absolutely appropriate sendoff, but I am eager to see who might be cast as Wolvie next. I hope it is a shorter, rougher-looking guy. Hell, I’d almost like to see an Alpha Flight movie. Peter Dinklage would be amazing as Puck.
I want an X-Force movie that mostly centers around Domino, NTW, Yukio, and Russell. Deadpool can be in it too, sure. But nobody else needs to get fridged, c’mon! BOTH main male characters’ arcs driven by their female loved ones’ deaths? And not just two adult women but also a daughter? Sigh.
I appreciated what they did with Russell. I think maybe at one point Deadpool acknowledged that Russell might have been teased for his weight, but I never saw the movie itself mock him for it. He got one of the more fleshed-out emotional arcs of the movie. (Julian Dennison, the actor, is pretty impressive too: check out http://www.looper.com/118484/kid-deadpool-2-looks-familiar/ )
And am I the only one who thought the treatment of the mutant kids in the institutional “home” was a stand-in for conversion therapy? The movie made its opinion of that pretty clear with what they did to the home’s director.
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