Slowly but surely, the LGBTQ population is getting more representation in Hollywood, particularly in the superhero genre. In the past, those who were queer in Hollywood were forced to be closeted for years, sometimes their entire career. A famous example of this is Rock Hudson, a prominent actor in Hollywood’s Golden Age whose agents frequently had to quash rumors of his homosexuality. Even upon his death in the '80s, there was a stigma attached to being gay, particularly in the context of the AIDS epidemic, the disease Hudson died from.
Now we’re in a time where LGBTQ people are playing superheroes -- some of them even get to play out superheroes. The significance of this cannot be stressed enough. When marginalized communities are better represented -- women, people of color, the LGBTQ community -- the easier it will be for children of these communities to find stories that speak to them and help them navigate their own identity. The major comic book companies, DC and Marvel, have ushered in the era of the queer superhero on TV and in film.
The CW network did for television what Marvel did for films. The Arrowverse is a shared universe of superhero shows -- Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow -- who once a year have an epic crossover event. The CW, which obviously works with DC characters, is killing it when it comes to openly out LGBTQ actors playing out characters.
The CW’s success with this makes sense considering they cater to younger audiences who are generally more open in their sociopolitical views. Additionally, younger audiences could be struggling with their own queerness, making it all the more important that an actor like Ruby Rose is cast as Batwoman.
Ruby Rose’s casting as Batwoman, a lesbian superhero, is the latest news out of the CW machine. Rose came out as a lesbian when she was young, at the age of 12. Ruby Rose also knows what it’s like to struggle with gender nonconformity and identifies as genderfluid. She has been open with telling her story, which is something young people need. However, her casting as Batwoman prompted a backlash, driving Ruby Rose to quit Twitter.
Thankfully, Nicole Maines has not yet been driven off Twitter. At Comic-Con International in San Diego this year, the CW announced that Maines, a transgender woman, will be playing Dreamer, TV’s first transgender superhero, on Supergirl. According to Variety, the show’s producers worked with DC Comics, GLAAD and members of the transgender community to “show the whole spectrum of humanity, and that everyone can be a hero.”
Lest we forget, the CW already has a number of queer characters and actors who play them. Wentworth Miller and Russell Tovey are also out actors who played an out couple in The Flash as Citizen Cold and The Ray. In last season’s crossover event, “Crisis on Earth-X,” the two characters shared a kiss, and, later on The Flash, Cold announced his intention to marry The Ray. After the giant Nazi-filled mess that was Barry and Iris’s wedding, it’s nice to have another Arrowverse wedding to look forward to.
Worlds of DC
Speaking of The Flash, Worlds of DC has Ezra Miller as their Flash. Miller had brief cameos as The Flash in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. In last year’s Justice League film, Miller had much more screen time as the high-energy, K-pop loving Barry Allen.
Ezra Miller spoke about his sexuality in a 2012 interview with Out Magazine, describing himself as “queer.” As far as major motion pictures go, Miller’s presence in Worlds of DC is significant. If plans go through for a Flashpoint film, he will be the first openly queer actor to lead a superhero film.
Worlds of DC, however, has had a lot of upheavals in their slate of upcoming films. News of Flashpoint has stalled. Considering how poorly Justice League fared at the box office, DC may be looking to build up their individual heroes first before doing more ensemble stories like Flashpoint.
While we hope that Ezra Miller does get to lead his own film and make that first for the LGBTQ community, we also hope that DC brings on more out characters and actors.