WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Shazam!, in theaters now.
After Deadpool 2 broke new ground for by giving Negasonic Teenage Warhead a girlfriend, the rest of the superhero movie landscape is trying to catch up in terms of LGBTQ representation. Spider-Man: Far From Home has cast transgender actor Zach Barack as one of Peter Parker's friends, and Marvel's Eternals is all but confirmed to have a gay male lead.
In Warner Bros.' so-called DC Extended Universe, we're still waiting to find out whether Wonder Woman 1984 will acknowledge Diana's inherent queerness, and Birds of Prey will introduce lesbian detective Renee Montoya and just possibly acknowledge Harley Quinn's bisexuality. Yet another character to pay attention was just introduced in Shazam!, although we don't blame you if you missed him entirely, as it's alluded to in one throwaway line open to multiple interpretations.
Shazam! director David F. Sandberg and producer Peter Safran hinted that the film might feature a gay superhero. Having now seen the film, it's clear they're referring to one line that points to the sexual orientation of Billy Batson's foster brother Pedro Peña.
Played by Jovan Armand as a child, and D.J. Cotrona in his superhero form, Pedro is the shyest and most withdrawn of Billy's foster siblings. He doesn't initially make the same bold impression as nerdy Freddie or energetic Darla or obsessive Eugene. However, if future films follow through on one scene's implications, he may be one of the DCEU's most groundbreaking characters.
At one point, Shazam teleports him and his siblings to a strip club. The kids express a range of reactions, from excitement to offense, but Pedro? He says, nonchalantly, "not my thing."
It isn't absolutely confirmation that Pedro is gay, of course. Armand's line reading doesn't suggest discomfort so much as apathy, but there is the possibility he simply wasn't into the atmosphere, as opposed to having no interest in women's bodies. He could be asexual, which would also be welcome representation, if that was the intention. Given Sandberg and Safran's comments, however, we're almost certain the line is meant to imply Pedro is gay.
We wouldn't classify one line that could be interpreted a number of ways as full-on gay representation. Wonder Woman also had a brief dialogue about men not being necessary for the Amazons' pleasure, but didn't go so far as to confirm any characters' same-sex attractions or relationships. At the same time, this is a more solid hint about a character's queer identity than anything that's made it to screen in either the DCEU or the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's not the be-all end-all, but it is a potential jumping-off point for future superhero films.
Directed by David F. Sandberg, Shazam! stars Asher Angel as Billy Batson, Zachary Levi as Shazam, Mark Strong as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, Djimon Hounsou as the ancient wizard Shazam, Grace Fulton as Mary Bromfield, Jack Dylan Grazer as Frederick “Freddy” Freeman, Ian Chen as Eugene Choi, Jovan Armand as Pedro Peña, Faithe Herman as Darla Dudley, Cooper Andrews as Victor Vásquez and Marta Milans as Rosa Vásquez.