'Deadpool 2' features groundbreaking LGBTQ superhero storyline [SPOILERS]

May 15, 2018

GLAAD President responds: “storyline is a milestone in a genre that too often renders LGBTQ people invisible.”

GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today applauded 20th Century Fox for including two new LGBTQ superheroes in Deadpool 2 which is scheduled to be released nationwide on Thursday night, May 17. In the film, Negasonic Teenage Warhead (played by Brianna Hildebrand) meets a girlfriend in her fellow X-Men teammate, Yukio (Shioli Kutsuna). During the film, the two clearly state they are girlfriends, a first-of-its-kind moment in a wide release superhero film.

“20th Century Fox have finally given countless moviegoers around the world what they’ve longed to see- LGBTQ superheroes in a relationship who protect the world together,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO. “Negasonic and Yukio’s storyline is a milestone in a genre that too often renders LGBTQ people invisible, and should send a message to other studios to follow this example of inclusive and smart storytelling.”

GLAAD tracks LGBTQ inclusion in film through the annual Studio Responsibility Index, which measures the quantity, quality and diversity of LGBTQ people in films released by the seven major motion picture studios (https://www.glaad.org/sri/2017). The sixth annual Studio Responsibility Index is scheduled to be released next week.

While comic books and superhero shows have seen a welcome increase in LGBTQ characters, those characters – or their LGBTQ identities – have often not yet made it to the big screen. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has included seconds-long cameos of out news anchor Thomas Roberts appearing as himself in The Avengers and Iron Man 3. DC’s Extended Universe has done the same with Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which included cameos by out commentators.

Universal’s Kick-Ass 2 (2013) included Insect Man as one of the everyday superheroes inspired by Kickass’ antics. He introduces himself by saying that a lifetime of being bullied for being gay inspired him to stand up for the defenseless, adding that he doesn’t wear a mask because it’s too much like being back in the closet.

DC’s Suicide Squad ignored Harley Quinn’s (Margot Robbie) bisexual identity. Last year’s Wonder Woman broke box office records, but did not include Diana’s (Gal Gadot) bisexuality – a story that played out in the recent Greg Rucka run of comics and which moviegoers hope to see included in the upcoming sequel.

Thor: Ragnarok included two characters who are bisexual and gay respectively in the source material, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Korg (Taika Waititi). However, this film did not include any references to their identities or love interests, and as such, audiences would have no clue they were seeing queer characters unless they had read outside press or the source material stories. The likely Black Panther sequel should include the romantic relationship between Dora Milaje members Ayo and Aneka. Their story was explored in the GLAAD Media Award-winning spin off Black Panther: World of Wakanda and the two – alongside Dora Milaje leader Okoye – are set for a summer three-issue miniseries.

GLAAD’s 2017 Studio Responsibility Index found that only 23 of the 125 (18.4%) releases from the seven major studios in 2016 included LGBTQ characters. The majority of those characters were minor in both substance and screen time, 10 of the 23 inclusive films (43%) included less than one minute of screen time for their LGBTQ characters. Queer men far outnumbered women by two to one (47 to 22), and there was one character counted as non-binary (All, Paramount’s Zoolander 2) who existed only to serve as a punchline. Racial diversity took a huge drop, down to only 20% of all LGBTQ characters being people of color. GLAAD’s 2018 Studio Responsibility Index, examining the 2017 releases of the seven major studios and four subsidiaries, will be unveiled next Tuesday, May 22 at a special panel event at global entertainment agency WME, hosted by the agency and Endeavor Content.