Hear me out on this one, okay? I could pick any character out of a hat and argue that they should be made gay in the next instalment, but I do actually have a case here beyond ‘I like gays’. I don’t think Hawkeye episode six will confirm anything one way or another – although they won’t know if true love’s first kiss with Yelena will work until they try it – but moving forward, Bishop is going to be a major figure in the MCU, and making her queer would be a huge signal of intent.
Kate Bishop is part of a new wave for the MCU, with Endgame offering something of a reset for the box office behemoth. Before Hawkeye aired, I wrote in reaction to Black Widow that I felt Bishop would be the key to Phase 4 and beyond, especially with Florence Pugh’s Yelena involved. After seeing Kate and Yelena meet in episode five, I’m even more convinced.
Related: The MCU Is Finally Doing Right By Hawkeye, Just Before He Leaves‘Go woke, go broke’ has become something of a motto for MCU detractors, but the box office returns of Black Panther, Shang-Chi, and Captain Marvel, not to mention that WandaVision has been the best received television show from the MCU to date, prove that’s not really true. Instead, as the MCU has grown from a collection of comic book movies into a global phenomenon, it has brought in a larger crowd. If you think Endgame broke world records entirely off the backs of Funko collectors with neckbeards, Iron Man t-shirts, and Black Widow body pillows, you obviously didn’t look around your theatre at whatever screening you went to four times in a week. Be honest, I know you did.
As a result, with more diverse eyeballs on the MCU, it needs to reflect this diversity of its audience. Making Kate queer seems like an obvious way to do that. The show is her first foray in the MCU, so it’s not a rewrite of an existing star the way making Spider-Man bisexual would be, and she’s set to be a leading light in the MCU going forward, not just a background character with a handful of lines.
Why Kate Bishop though, you might ask. Captain Marvel’s queerness has already been teased – you shut your dirty mouth, yes it has – and since the existence of Brie Larson already ensures the ‘go woke, go broke’ crowd are apoplectic, it’s less of a risk. You’ll get no objection – a queer Captain Marvel built on her (now tragic) relationship with Maria Rambeau sounds like a great idea. But I’m still going to be fighting Bishop’s corner.
It’s not just that Kate wore two excellent suits in the premiere double header. I mean, a lot of it is the suits, but Hailee Steinfeld has a great track record when it comes to bringing queer characters to life. Arcane’s Vi is voiced by Steinfeld, while she also plays the titular role in Dickinson, set to end this week after the penultimate episode finally saw Steinfeld’s Emily and Ella Hunt’s Sue Gilbert getting intimate while Steinfeld read poetry and Taylor Swift’s Ivy played in the background.
Please, make Kate and Yelena kiss to a Taylor Swift song in the finale k thanx bye.
There is, of course, a homophobic elephant in the room, and I’m not talking about the Republican Party. Disney has had eight first gay characters now, and the reason it’s able to have so many firsts is because the ones that came before don’t really count. They never declare themselves queer, and always operate on a nudge nudge, wink wink level. The same thing happened with Loki. They can be, and frequently are, trimmed away from the film entirely so that the movie can still hit the box office in less progressive regions. Having Kate Bishop, likely to be one of the main Avengers and backed by the considerable star power of Hailee Steinfeld, be gay means it’s impossible for her to be cut from the film like a Star Wars kiss.
The tide may be slowly turning, however. Eternals stars Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, the first gay superhero in the MCU. Rather than cutting Phastos or altering his role, Disney elected to take the hit and miss out on the box office in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait. It’s a step in the right direction, but Eternals is not Avengers and Brian Tyree Henry is not Hailee Steinfeld, and whether Marvel would be this brave with more money on the table remains to be seen.
I know Bishop is straight in the comics. I know, in Young Avengers, she even asks “am I the only straight one in the group?” but I don’t care. I’ve never believed that the comic book versions have to be exactly replicated on the screen, especially when the pencil and ink iterations have so many alternate backstories and timelines and personalities to consider.
Instead, what I care about is using the characters available to tell the best story possible, the story that best appeals to your audience, takes risks, and pushes against new boundaries. What I care about is making Kate Bishop gay. Hey, Marvel execs. Do that.
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