Justin Oo | The Poly Post

Is Disney’s diversity a spell or here to stay?

By Matthew Acosta, May 10, 2022

Marvel is set to release the much-anticipated “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” in theaters. However, the corporate giant has had its ongoing battles in the past few weeks fighting for LGBTQ+ rights.

Between Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and the battles with China and Saudi Arabia about the contents of the film, Disney has stood its ground and continues on its path of progressiveness, but have they truly done all they can for the LGBTQ+ community within their films?

The future of LGBTQ+ representation in film rides upon big companies like Disney to make the big moves in order to create a world in which placing queer scenes and actors into films becomes more commonplace.

Between Disney and Marvel, there have been few hints and background scenes that depict gay relationships in most shows and, in some rare occasions blockbuster movies.

The biggest moment for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date comes from “Eternals,” which was deemed by most to be a flop when compared to the rest of the MCU. One of the side characters, Phastos, has a husband who was organically added to the movie and was less of a stunt.

Justin Oo | The Poly Post

Having moments like this become more common will in turn create more acceptance in real-world situations for those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. With things like this happening consistently in films, it becomes less of a novelty and more common through repeated practice.

The line that Disney and Marvel have to ride and make sure of is to not add these scenes into a movie for the sole purpose of making news or making a statement. Rather, these corporations need to add such scenes to increase normalcy for the LGBTQ+ community.

Though Marvel is becoming more and more open about their characters’ sexualities, it still has a long way to go when comparing the comic books to the movies thus far, which reveals a big discrepancy between the two. While the comics provide a plethora of queer characters, the MCU seems to slowly roll them out.

One of the bigger wins when it comes to Marvel standing up for its beliefs is Marvel standing its ground when other countries ban its films, such as other countries, such as Saudi Arabia and China, ban its films due to a 12 second clip of America Chavez revealing that she has two same-sex parents.

Xochitl Gomez, 15, who plays Chavez in the film, has also received harassment on social media due to the content of the film and the battles that it it had to go through with those in and out of the United States.

By holding through with this, Marvel is telling the rest of the world that its views on progressiveness will not be silenced, and it is trying to start the dialogue around the world that this massive corporation will no longer be adjusting its films to old ways of thinking.

Though this statement is powerful, there still is much room for improvement in terms of promoting normalcy for the LGBTQ+ community in their films in the future.

There have been major strides within the Marvel company under Disney toward a more progressive film industry. However, there is significantly less LGBTQ representation in Disney and Pixar films.

Many of the films have had some LGBTQ+ background characters but these characters are hard for viewers to notice on their first watch

The Warner Bros. has improved regarding its progressiveness within the Wizarding World with the canonization of Albus Dumbledore, a major character in the “Harry Potter” and “Fantastic Beasts” series, being gay.

Though its studio may have had its own issues and major media headlines, Warner Bros. has continued to move forward with telling its story the way it wants and believes it should be told.

In a statement from the LGBTQ+ employees of Pixar and their allies, obtained by Variety, many employees claimed that they had seen many stories full of diverse sexual orientations  cut and changed by Disney due to them containing “overtly gay affection.”

With situations like this, creators within the company feel underrepresented and some even feel betrayed with all the work that Disney puts in for the LGBTQ+ community only while in the public eye.

This story broke just as Disney had been in the media for the work the company had been putting into battling against Florida lawmakers the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The bill intends to bar public schools from instructing on sexual orientation or gender. Disney has since publicly opposed the bill, which started the battle between Florida lawmakers and the corporate giant.

The path to inclusion and diversity among not only gender but sexual orientation, may not be clear cut on how Disney and Marvel need to handle their moviemaking, but the simple answer is they need to continue their path of change and kick it into high gear.

Feature image by Justin Oo. 

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