Deadpool 2 welcomes the satirical, 4th-wall-breaking Wade Wilson back to the big screen, this installment of the franchise chronicling the assembly of the X-Force team in an attempt to save a young mutant from time-traveler Cable.
The first Deadpool installment introduced the character of Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) as a rebellious mutant-in-training, often clashing with Deadpool’s sarcastic sense of humor and lightheartedness. In the first film, the character’s sexual orientation is not discussed at all, but in Deadpool 2, her first appearance on screen is alongside her girlfriend, as she introduces her to Deadpool, ninja Yukio (Shiori Kutsuna).
The power-couple proves groundbreaking, proving to be the first truly open, explicitly LGBT couple in superhero cinema. At a moment when Wade Wilson could follow the subversive humor of the Deadpool franchise and throw in a few gay jokes, he instead decides to become buddy-buddy with Yukio, further annoying Negasonic.
The lukewarm part comes during the rest of the movie when our new LGBT power couple doesn’t do a whole lot. They hold hands once, almost as if to prove to the audience that they are actually a couple, but their screen time is limited to a few minor appearances.
In one of the final fight scenes, Negasonic and Yukio take down Juggernaut when the rest of the X-Force is unable to do so. They both prove to be totally badass and essential characters, but the plot moves quickly from their heroics back to Deadpool and his antics, leaving little room for their characters to develop further. At the very end, when it seems that all is lost, both Negasonic and Yukio have little to say and appear more as background characters than part of the main cast.
Negasonic isn’t the focus of the plot, which falls more on Deadpool’s new mentee, Rusty Collins (Julian Dennison). As David Opie points out in IntoMore, it’s likely that Negasonic became a little redundant when the writers decided to revolve the sequel around Rusty Collins. Because Negasonic made appearances in the first film, it wouldn’t quite make sense for her to be Deadpool’s mentee again in this installment.
The franchise may also face financial pressure to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, and therefore not make any LGBT representation that is too visible or would make certain audiences uncomfortable. Blockbusters have demonstrated this again and again, with missed opportunities for representation in Thor: Ragnarok, and the decision not to even acknowledge Dumbledore as a gay character in Fantastic Beasts, despite the fact that author J.K. Rowling has explicitly stated that he is gay.
There may be hope for more positive and actually visible representation in the next installment of the Deadpool franchise. The after-credit scene in Deadpool 2 showed Negasonic and Yukio helping Wade with time-travel technology. There is also an annotation pointing to Yukio and stating that “the force is strong with this one.” We can only hope that this points towards more open and visible representation in X-Force. It’s high time that LGBT characters receive the screen time they deserve, rather than continuously having scenes cut, identities erased, and characters sidelined.
Featured image via Den of Geek.0
Also published on Medium.