Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn and 17 Other LGBTQ+ Superheroes
Way back in 2016, Margot Robbie made her debut as Harley Quinn in "Suicide Squad." She's reprised the role twice since — in 2020's spinoff "Birds of Prey" and in 2021's "The Suicide Squad," directed by newly appointed DC head James Gunn. Gunn and Peter Safran took over DC Studios in the fall of 2022, and while their announced plan for the DC Universe's first chapter doesn't include Robbie as Quinn just yet, the "Barbie" star really wants to be back: and she has big plans for Harley. Specifically, she wants her character version to romance Poison Ivy, just like in the comics.
Speaking to Comicbook.com in December 2022, she said, "I have been pushing for that for years. I cannot tell you how hard I've been pushing for that. I want it too." When it came to who she would cast as Ivy, she added, "Honestly, when I pictured, I always picture like Poison Ivy in the comics. I don't really actually picture an actress doing it, but I agree, that would be so good."
Harley's bisexuality was established on screen in "Birds of Prey," but Robbie isn't the only A-lister to tackle the character in recent years. Kaley Cuoco has voiced the character in the adult animation "Harley Quinn" on Max since 2019, and her version of the supervillain is in a long-standing relationship with Poison Ivy (voiced by Lake Bell). Plus, Lady Gaga is taking on the role in the "Joker: Folie à Deux", which is expected to be released in 2024 (and is unrelated to the main DC films).
As far as queer representation in superhero films, some iconic LGBTQ+ Marvel and DC heroes have made it to the screen so far. Ahead, we're running down some of the biggest appearances, and which queer superheroes you can look forward to seeing on screen soon.
Harley Quinn (DC)
"Birds of Prey" briefly nods at Harley Quinn's queerness but she's been in same-sex relationships long before this onscreen reveal. "Harley Quinn #25," published in 2017, features the antiheroine kissing Dr. Pamela Lillian Isley, aka Poison Ivy for the first time in main DC continuity, though DC notes that the characters had also kissed in comics that were outside of the universe. The relationship is a major aspect of the Max series "Harley Quinn."
Poison Ivy (DC)
Poison Ivy was created in 1966 but the "Harley Quinn" series is the first time she was explicitly depicted as queer. There have since been multiple comic plot lines exploring this aspect of her life, including the graphic novel "Poison Ivy: Thorns."
"Deadpool 2" alludes to Deadpool's queerness but he's always been explicitly pansexual in the comics. The movie also featured the lesbian couple Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Yukio.
In July 2018, movie star Ryan Reynolds said that he wants Deadpool and his alter ego Wade Wilson to explore that side of their lives in future films. When asked by a fan at San Diego Comic-Con if future Deadpool films will feature queer characters, Reynolds said, "The great thing about Deadpool is that we're allowed to do things that other superhero movies don't necessarily do. It's something that I'd love to see more of, certainly through Wade, certainly through this universe because it's something that we're building out more," per Variety. With "Deadpool 3" bringing the anti-hero into the MCU, fans will have to wait and see what happens.
The Marvel comics reference Loki's gender fluidity as he shapeshifts into different characters with feminine and masculine qualities. In 2014, Marvel writer Al Ewing confirmed that Loki was bisexual and would shift between genders, per io9. Season one of the Disney+ series "Loki" brought these aspects of the character to the screen for the first time. Series star Tom Hiddleston said in May 2022 that he hoped Loki's coming out was "meaningful" for people, but noted it was only "a small step."
John Constantine (DC)
Keanu Reeves is one of the many actors who's portrayed comic-book hero John Constantine. Since "Hellblazer #51" in 1992, the chain-smoking detective has alluded to his queer identity, per Syfy. In the comics and CW's Arrowverse, he is a bisexual man. In Netflix's "Sandman" TV series, John is instead Johanna Constantine, who is also queer.
Season one of The CW's "Batwoman" features the canonical story of Ruby Rose's Kate Kane getting kicked out of a military academy for being in a relationship with a female cadet. Kane became the first queer iteration of Batwoman in 2006, 50 years after she was introduced as Batman's love interest, per Autostraddle. Rose left the series after the first season and Javicia Leslie's Ryan Wilder took over Batwoman's cowl. Ryan is a lesbian.
At the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel announced that Valkyrie would be the MCU's first LGBTQ+ superhero (though "Thor 4" ended up being delayed so long that other characters made it to screen first). In recent comics, Valkyrie is depicted as bisexual and in a relationship. In 2022's "Thor: Love and Thunder," her sexuality is mentioned, though it isn't intrinsic to the plot.
Valkyrie isn't the only queer character in the world of Thor. In a "Planet Hulk" storyline, Korg, the Kronan alien, is gay and develops a romantic relationship with the male warrior Hiroim, per Insider.
Ayo and Aneka (Marvel)
Canonically, Ayo (Florence Kasumba), one of King T'Challa's guards in "Black Panther," is a queer character in the comics. She falls in love with another warrior name Aneka (Michaela Coel) and they form the Midnight Angels. Part of their love story was briefly seen in 2022's "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever."
America Chavez (Marvel)
America Chavez made her debut in the comics back in 2011. The Latina hero was raised by two mothers and is a lesbian. She made her live-action debut in 2022's "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." She didn't have a romantic subplot but wore a pride pin on her denim jacket.
In 2021's "Eternals," Brian Tyree Henry's Phastos became the first hero to be depicted as gay in the MCU, and viewers see him living with his husband. That's not part of his character's story in the comics, but a welcome addition to the screen.
Mystique, played by Jennifer Lawrence in previous X-Men films, has been written as queer in the comics since the '70s, per Syfy. However, Lawrence's iteration did not include this aspect of the character.
An original X-Men character, Iceman, aka Bobby Drake, had long been written as straight, but he was revealed to be gay in 2015 after fellow mutant Jean Grey read his mind. The Iceman solo series by Sina Grace focuses on his queer identity, per io9. The character was not portrayed as gay in the 2003 film "X-Men 2," but with the MCU moving toward mutant stories, it's possible we could see him return.
Thunder, aka the eldest daughter of Black Lightning, is involved with her teammate Grace Choi in the comics storyline "One Year Later." With her appearance on The CW's "Black Lightning," Anissa Pierce, portrayed by Nafessa Williams, became the first Black lesbian superhero on TV.
Pied Piper (DC)
In DC's "Crisis on Infinite Earths" arc, Hartley Rathaway, aka Pied Piper, is an openly gay man, working as a vigilante after Barry Allen's (aka the Flash's) death. He becomes romantically involved with David Singh, Allen's crime lab boss. The character appeared on CW's "The Flash."
Another member of the X-Men, Psylocke dates both men and women in the comics. She has been with the fellow mutant Archangel as well as Cluster, a female clone of one of the three brains of Fantomex. Olivia Munn portrayed the hero on-screen, though it was not part of her storyline.