People are thrilled about Deadpool 2’s groundbreaking queer superhero couple
Deadpool 2 is getting a lot of praise for finally bringing LGBT superheros on the big screen.
The superhero sequel, which is out this week, brings back moody teenage mutant Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), and introduces her girlfriend, the badass mutant Yukio (Shioli Kutsuna).
The inclusion of queer superheroes in the film, even in a supporting role, has earned praise from fans and LGBT activists – who have long criticised DC and Marvel for perceived ‘straightwashing’ of characters in blockbuster films.
Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO, said: “20th Century Fox and Marvel have finally given countless moviegoers around the world what they’ve longed to see- LGBTQ superheroes in a relationship who protect the world together.
“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.”
Fans also rushed to praise the film.
One wrote: “If anyone could do it, I knew it would be Deadpool <3.”
Others expressed joy at finally seeing themselves represented in the genre.
The two characters hold hands on-screen and explicitly confirm that they are dating, and Deadpool himself remarks that they’re a cute couple.
The pair don’t have the most prominent role in the plot, but their existence alone is enough to break a barrier.
Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, meanwhile, has thus far failed to portray a single explicitly LGBT character across any of its 19 big-screen releases.
It is likely that Deadpool, which is already banned in many overseas conservative markets due to its violent and sexual content, had less reason to worry about abiding by international censorship standards.
Reynolds previously confirmed as much, saying of his own character’s sexuality: “That’s not really a problem for us, because we were banned in China. We were rated ‘f**k you!’ in China.
“I think [Deadpool’s sexual interest in men] could be played up more. He’s an outsider in every way, shape, and form.”
Deadpool was denied a release by China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), citing graphic violence, nudity, and bad language.
By contrast, the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – which rely on wide releases and global family audiences for success – routinely face accusations of ‘straightwashing’ characters who are depicted as LGBT in source materials.
Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther are among the Marvel films that have come under fire for removing references to the sexuality of queer characters.
Ryan Reynolds previously said that the only barrier to a same-sex romance for Deadpool in the sequel would be the character’s love for his current girlfriend.
He said: “The only thing that you have to consider going forward is, ‘Are we being faithful to the canon that we nurtured and created?’
“One of those things is that Deadpool is in love with Vanessa. Deadpool isn’t in love with Vanessa just because she’s a woman.
“He’s in love with Vanessa because he loves her.”
Tim Miller and Reynolds have described their version of the character as pansexual. Deadpool 2 also introduces the superhero Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), who is bisexual in the comics, but his sexuality was not explored on screen.
Screenwriter Rhett Reese added: “Most comic book heroes have been heterosexual or homosexual. We find that interesting and groundbreaking. I hope it can evolve into something a little more.”
Brianna Hildebrand, who plays Negasonic, is also out in real life.
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The star filmed an It Gets Better video in 2016, explaining: “I knew from pretty early on that I liked both boys and girls.
“Growing up in a fairly religious household I knew not everyone would be as comfortable with who I was as who I was, and it wasn’t until middle school that I realised how many people would feel the need to put a label on me, and throughout high school I really struggled with that. I didn’t know which group I belonged to.”
She added that “the idea of putting a bisexual, lesbian or pansexual label on myself [feels] extremely limiting.”
Hildebrand previously starred in 2016’s First Girl I Loved, which portrayed the story of two teenage girls wrestling with their sexuality and attraction to each other.
Speaking at the time she said: “I could not tell you how rewarding it feels to be a part of a movie that feels so close to home for me, and personal, and really tells my story. It’s a really amazing feeling.”