Trans Marvel actor slams lack of LGBTQ+ representation in MCU: ‘It’s not good enough’
Spider-Man: Far From Home star Zach Barack said the state of queer and trans representation isn’t “good enough” in Marvel’s films and TV shows.
Barack, who was the first openly trans actor to appear in a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film, said the superhero studios efforts to champion LGBTQ+ representation are falling short in an interview with Digital Spy.
“It’s not good enough,” Barack said. “It’s… I mean, on some fundamental level, even seeing Batgirl shelved, which is not Marvel, it all boils down to what we value – which is not femininity.”
He continued: “That’s where hating trans people, in a lot of ways, comes from – that we don’t want people to act less than what we see, which is often masculinity.
“Which is why it’s a lot less dangerous to be a trans guy than it is to be a trans girl or a trans feminine person.
“So that’s one of the reasons it’s harmful. But then more directly, yeah – just make the character trans, and face the consequences. Be brave. Do something in the world, so that when you die, you’re like, ‘I’m glad I tried that,’ [laughs] and don’t regret not doing it.”
The Dead End: Paranormal Park star admitted he didn’t “know what to say to a person who’s more focused on the ticket sales” than bringing forward authentic queer and trans representation into media.
He said he could “argue for the net benefits success-wise”, “what it could do on a cultural level” and how they could “just be a good person”.
“I don’t know how to tell someone to care, but they should,” Barack said. “It’s the right thing to do. And it matters. It matters more than anything.”
He added: “Be a human being, and look out for other human beings. It’s all we have. You know, we can’t afford to not be on the same team at this point.
“And if you’re really on my team like you’re saying you are, then show up and play the game.”
In 2021, Marvel Studio’s executive vice president of film production Victoria Alonso vowed more queer representation in the superhero production company’s upcoming content.
“It takes time, we have so many stories that we can tell,” Alonso told Variety. “We will empower those that are.”
Marvel has slowly been increasing its roster of queer characters in recent years, but fans have criticised the studio’s dissatisfactory progress on telling authentic LGBTQ+ storylines.
Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie was long-been a queer icon in the MCU, and she was confirmed as LGBTQ+ in the most recent Thor film. However, fans were left hanging on the promise that Valkyrie would have a dedicated queer storyline or finally find her queen in the film.
Loki came out as canonically bisexual in the trickster god’s solo Disney Plus series, and Marvel also confirmed the god’s sex is “fluid” in a dossier about the character written by the Time Variance Authority.
Marvel also introduced its first openly gay superhero in the film Eternals, and the film featured Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) kissing his husband, played by Haaz Sleiman.
In July, Marvel confirmed Black Panther: Wakanda Forever would include queer character Aneka – a combat instructor of the Dora Milaje, played by Michaela Coel. Coel said the fact that Aneka is queer “sold [the actor] on the role”.
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