Hawkeye quietly introduces new queer character into Marvel Cinematic Universe

Officer Wendy Conrad (Adetinpo Thomas) holds up a bag that her wife embroidered her nickname Bombshell on it

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has welcomed a new queer character in the most low-key way on the new Disney Plus series Hawkeye.

In episode four, Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) – aka Hawkeye – tasked his young protégé, Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), with tracking down the trick arrows that he used to fight live-action role-playing (LARP) enthusiasts earlier in the season.

Kate encountered off-duty New York Police Department officer Wendy Conrad (Adetinpo Thomas) who is training alongside the LARPers in the park. The young hero eventually enlisted the help of Conrad and others in the guild to help retrieve the missing arrows, and the group accompanied Kate back to her makeshift HQ.

In the comics, Conrad – aka Bombshell – is a juggling (yes, juggling) mercenary who specialises in explosives. She faces off against Hawkeye several times across the Marvel Universe and eventually goes on to join the Death-Throws, a team of criminal jugglers.

Later in the episode, after some sleuthing of his own, Clint finds Kate hanging out with the guild of LARPers who are baking cookies and crafting armour for the young archer.

As the group prepares to leave, Conrad arrives with the trick arrows in a bag, declaring that she had completed the “arrow retrieval mission”.

Clint then attempts to take the bag containing the arrows away from the off-duty cop. But Conrad is hesitant to part with the bag, revealing it was a gift from her beloved wife.

“My wife gave me this bag,” Conrad revealed. “It’s embroidered. It says ‘Bombshell’.”

Clint and Kate eventually promised to return the bag to her, but it’s not really clear in the episode whether they actually follow through on that promise.

Several fans were thrilled to welcome another openly queer character into the MCU through the nonchalant introduction.

While she might be a cop and ally, for now, Conrad – aka Bombshell – is actually a mercenary and supervillain in the Marvel comics.

Bombshell first appeared in the 1983 solo Hawkeye series as a master juggler and explosives expert who joined up with fellow villain Oddball to eliminate Hawkeye and his partner Mockingbird. She worked alongside the Death-Throws to free Oddball’s previous boss Crossfire from jail.

After Crossfire was freed, the Death-Throws used him as bait to attract Hawkeye and Captain America. But the two Avengers were too powerful and defeated the Death-Throws.

This isn’t the first time that Disney has expanded the number of LGBT+ characters within the MCU.

Earlier this year, Loki came out as canonically bisexual in the third episode of the trickster god’s solo series. Marvel also confirmed that Loki’s sex is “fluid” via a dossier about the God of Mischief written by the Time Variance Authority.

Marvel has also tried to increase its LGBT+ representation more broadly across the MCU.

In November, Marvel released Eternals, the studio’s first film to feature an openly gay superhero. The film follows the Eternals, a group of superpowered and immortal beings, who have lived secretly alongside humanity to fight their enemies known as the Deviants.

One of these heroes, Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), is an openly gay tech maverick who lives with his husband (Haaz Sleiman) and their child.

Though the film symbolised a large step forward in LGBT+ inclusion in the MCU, Eternals was “review-bombed” on IMDB by hateful bigots to “protest” this representation. The film was also banned in several conservative Gulf nations over its gay content.