Why 'Deadpool' sequel's groundbreaking gay superheroes 'weren't a statement'

Kevin Polowy
·Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment

In one early scene in the new sequel Deadpool 2, superhero sidekick Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) introduces her girlfriend, Yukio (Shioli Kutsuna), to Ryan Reynolds’s eponymous crimefighter.

Deadpool, of course, zings a wise-ass comment or two in her direction. It’s his nature. But the sequence plays as matter-of-factly as anything in the joke-a-minute sequel. This, despite what the moment represents in cinematic history: the first same-sex superhero relationship depicted in Marvel movies.

And that’s exactly as the filmmakers intended it to be.

“[It wasn’t] a statement we were trying to make,” director David Leitch told Yahoo Entertainment (watch above).

Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, who penned the film with Reynolds, concurred. “It’s everyday life,” Wernick said. “We ground Deadpool in real life. As outrageous as it is, Deadpool is a very, very grounded movie.” Added Reese: “We didn’t want to make too big a deal of it.”

There have been gay characters portrayed in Marvel comics before, including Northstar, Wiccan, Hulkling, and X-Men’s own Karma. But never has one been represented onscreen in a Marvel film. There was speculation that Black Panther would portray Danai Gurira’s Okoye in a lesbian relationship, but that never came to pass; and Thor: Ragnarok star Tessa Thompson has publicly commented on the fact that her character, Valkyrie, is bisexual in the comics, but that’s not represented in the film itself.

Negasonic Teenage Warhead is a relatively obscure character in Marvel comics who came to prominence in the 2016 megahit Deadpool, as portrayed by Hildebrand. The actress is gay in real life, and since her smashing breakout in the first installment, she has received acclaim for the indie teen lesbian drama First Girl I Loved. Yukio is getting a Marvel rebooting of sorts, in Deadpool 2: The character was previously portrayed in 2013’s The Wolverine by Rila Fukushima, but there doesn’t appear to be any continuity between the two versions.

The decision to add an openly gay couple is already being hailed by GLAAD. “20th Century Fox have finally given countless moviegoers around the world what they’ve longed to see LGBTQ superheroes in a relationship who protect the world together,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD’s president and CEO. “Negasonic and Yukio’s storyline is a milestone in a genre that too often renders LGBTQ people invisible, and should send a message to other studios to follow this example of inclusive and smart storytelling.”

Still, Leitch insists that very little mind was paid to the groundbreaking nature of Negasonic and Yukio’s relationship. “I never really thought of it that way,” said the filmmaker, whose credits also include Atomic Blonde and John Wick.

“It just felt natural to the material. I’m glad that it is [breaking ground]. I think that I’m really glad that it doesn’t feel like it’s groundbreaking. Maybe we’ve come to a place in society where that just feels natural.”

Deadpool 2 opens Friday.

[Updated May 18 at 3:45 p.m. PT with GLAAD statement.]

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