Way back in the mists of time, at the beginning of January 2020, the internet lit up with the news that Marvel was going to be adding a transgender character to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) “very soon”.
Speaking at a New York Film Academy event, the president of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige was asked whether there were plans to bring “more LGBT+ characters” into the Marvel universe – “specifically the T, trans characters?”
“Yes, absolutely, yes,” he replied. “And very soon – in a movie that we’re shooting right now.”
The news was picked up by outlets from the BBC to the Guardian and everyone in between, but unfortunately it turned out Feige’s reply hadn’t been accurate. He hadn’t been addressing the “specifically the T” element of the question, he’d just been referring to the fact that the upcoming movie Eternals would feature a gay character in the form of Phastos, played by Brian Tyree Henry.
Eternals is due to be released in November 2021, with Phastos as the first openly gay superhero in the MCU. He’ll also be married with a family.
That’s obviously something to be celebrated, but that clarification left people who had been hoping for more transgender representation in the MCU feeling pretty disappointed, especially since rivals DC have already led the way by adding trans character Nia Nal – played by transgender actress Nicole Maines – to the fourth series of their TV show Supergirl. She’s the first transgender superhero on television.
In 2018, before casting Maines and adding the character of Nia Nal to the show, Supergirl creator Greg Berlanti spoke about the lack of trans representation in the DC Arrowverse, saying: “We don’t have an active trans character across the shows[…] And so I still feel behind the times every day on that issue.”
Three years later, and the MCU are yet to follow suit, despite the fact that they have a ready made transgender superhero ready to go in the form of Sera, the only current trans character in the Marvel comics.
Sera was originally one of the Anchorites, a race of rare wingless angels of Heven, one of the Ten Realms of Asgardian cosmology. The Anchorites are all assigned male, but Sera has always known that she is a woman.
She grew up locked in a temple. After helping heir to the Asgardian throne Aldrif Odinsdottir (Angela) defeat a monster that was attacking the temples, Angela helped Sera live her truth. Sera then went to live with Angela in her manor. Later, after hunting a fugitive together, they made out and started a relationship.
That entire paragraph is a wild ride and potential movie in itself, frankly.
There’s clearly a lot of interest and demand for a transgender character in the MCU, and it’s high time that these films and TV shows – seen by millions of people each year – follow DC’s lead and add a trans superhero to the mix.
When will that happen? It’s impossible to say (even if you’re the president of Marvel Studios, apparently). But we certainly hope it happens sooner rather than later.