Captain America: The Winter Sweetheart

Posted May 26, 2016 by Jason Adams in Comic Books

Superhero couple shipping has long been a component of being a fan, and the superhero movie universe is no exception. Everyone was cheering for MJ and Spidey back in the early 2000s, lots of us have taken a side in the Thor/Jane Foster/Sif love triangle, and there probably exists libraries upon libraries of fan fiction hooking up Black Widow with any given co-star from the Avengers movie. Fans rooted for Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter back in Captain America: The First Avenger, then for Steve and Sharon in The Winter Soldier, but now fans are pushing a much more interesting romance for ol’ Cap with the release of the next film in his franchise.

This week, the hashtag #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend has been sweeping the web, indicating one’s endorsement for Disney/Marvel to start a Steve and Bucky romance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movement seems connected to one from earlier this month, where fans were again encouraging Disney to give one of their film characters a same-sex significant other, and is also reminiscent of earlier this year when fans expressed their interests in having Disney make two of the male leads in Star Wars Episode VII more than just wartime rebel buddies. It might seem like overkill on the fandom’s part to want so many main characters of Disney franchises to be in gay relationships, if not for the fact that across 7 Star Wars movies, 13 Marvel films, and who even knows how many animated Disney princess-related adventures, not a single gay couple has been portrayed (yes, I’ve thought about this in depth and no, R2D2 and C3P0 don’t count, no matter how Artoo identifies).

It’s easy to excuse a franchise like the MCU in its earlier incubatory phase when not too many heroes even existed yet, but our little MCU is starting to grow up and hit puberty (whatever that means for a film series), and we’re at a point where not having minority- or female-lead films is starting to be troubling (though, unless they get pushed back even further, Black Panther and Captain Marvel will start to remedy this issue over the next couple of years). Before Civil War, this world only had two female heroes (a little more if you count the Netflix series and Agents of SHIELD, though according to lead actress Chloe Bennet, the producers don’t), and two non-white heroes (though both are black, and are relegated to sidekick roles and are mostly reliant on Stark tech). Again though, there’s a complete and increasingly more apparent lack of sexual identity diversity in this world.

I somehow doubt that anyone pushing this hashtag realistically expects Disney and Marvel to actually make the film Cap anything but straight, let alone pair him up with the Winter Soldier. Steve has shown interest in women repeatedly across his film appearances (though Black Widow did experience resistance trying to set him up with women in Winter Soldier…). He could come out as bi with his bud Bucky, but their friendship has been portrayed as only that since the start without any hint of something more, not to mention that romantic feelings between them would justify his actions against Tony Stark in Civil War and diminish the severity of him betraying one friend to side with another. These fans know the hashtag won’t get Cap a boyfriend, but the aim is clearly to attract more publicity to the issue and maybe have the studio bring more (or any) queer characters to the MCU.

Marvel comics are maybe gayer than they have ever been right now. We have maybe more LGBTQ Avengers at once than we ever have with the somewhat-recent promotion of maybe the most prominent couple of boyfriends in superhero comics to the New Avengers and Ms. America Chavez to the Ultimates, and a newly-out original X-Man. Loki continues to be popular with his streak of solo titles, but although he may potentially be the queerest god across the nine realms, his big-screen counterpart hasn’t shown any indication of sexual preference or different gender identity. There is more than enough material for Marvel to pull from if they want to inject some more diversity into their roster of heroes. Alien hybrid prince Hulkling could fit into a Guardians of the Galaxy sequel with relative ease. Demiurge (née Wiccan) can be introduced (maybe minus the convoluted backstory) now that Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange are bringing out the more mystic side of the MCU. And it’d be awesome to see Hercules partner up with Thor in one of his films, and sorry to say it, but his films could do with the introduction of some more classic Avengers. We don’t need a gay Captain America to get some much-needed diversity in the film franchise, and the ball’s in Marvel’s court.

About the Author

Jason Adams