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Deadpool 2's LGBTQ Representation Is Great... But Also Really Problematic

Normalcy is absolutely the priority, and it's encouraging to hear from the team behind Deadpool 2 that it was for them, too. Negasonic actress Brianna Hildebrand told TooFab.com, "When Ryan [Reynolds] messaged me about it, the only thing I requested it that it not be made a big deal and so I think that's part of what makes it so special, it's just mentioned and it is what it is. I hope the fans can appreciated that about it." She added, "as a member of the LGBTQ community myself, it feels awesome to be paving that path."

While Deadpool 2 deserves the applause it's receiving regarding its approach to sexual progressiveness, we shouldn't ignore where it sits in the wider picture -- something that might not be so positive. It's notable that the first LGBTQ couple in a widely-released superhero movie comes from an R-Rated one.

Deadpool™ is controversial, edgy and risk-taking, which frames this landmark moment in the same context by default. This unintentionally works against the normalcy that the actors and writers want us to view this relationship in. You could argue that the message of the film -- finding your own family in a bunch of a misfits -- holds a mirror up to the place that LGBTQ folk sadly still occupy in society. But while queer characters might be distinctly "on-brand" for Deadpool movies, it's important not to make them the exclusive home for queerness. Particularly if that home has been built in such a nebulous place in the X-Men movie universe, a cinematic universe that, let's not forget, has failed to give us even the barest hint of a bisexual Mystique across six films.

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Normalizing LGBTQ characters and relationships in the superhero genre means having it run through media aimed at every kind of audience, not just orbiting around the fringes. When we look at the repressed tokenism Disney thinks passes for an "exclusively gay moment" in Beauty and the Beast, or the missed opportunities of inclusion in Marvel's Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok, or the barely-explored lesbianism in Wonder Woman, or worse, the deliberate closeting of Dumbledore in the Harry Potter spin-off series, the message is loud and clear about where LGBTQ characters belong and where they don't belong when it comes to mainstream, family-friendly cinema. We can hardly say that the Deadpool series isn't mainstream considering it's record-breaking first entry, but it isn't remotely family-friendly -- no matter how many underage viewers sneak into screenings or watch blurry cam footage online.

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As it stands, explicit gayness is for adult eyes only in the world of modern superhero blockbusters, which feels more like a compromise than equality. For Deadpool 2, including queer characters falls into the series' unique selling point of getting away with what every other superhero movie can't. Until the rest of the genre can answer that challenge, the message here will be that LGBTQ relationships are not child-friendly enough to be seen anywhere else other in those that feature the titular hero being ripped in half, forcing Colossus to drop an F-bomb.

In theaters nationwide, director David Leitch’s Deadpool 2 stars Ryan Reynolds as the titular Deadpool, Morena Baccarin as Vanessa, T.J. Miller as Weasel, Leslie Uggams as Blind Al, Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Stefan Kapičić as Colossus, Zazie Beetz as Domino, Julian Dennison as Russell and Josh Brolin as Cable.

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