Of all the heroes and villains that are well-known and recognized even in our reality, the most likely candidate for LGBT representation would be Marvel’s Captain America.
He is considered as the poster boy for the American government. The perfect role model citizen: a white, cis, heterosexual, male Christian. He is not only a hero to those in the Marvel universe, but to our world – the real world – as well. Lots of children, now adults, grew up reading the comics and the impression they have of him as a war hero will stay with them. But if this poster boy turns against those strictly placed values, and he discovers himself to be bisexual, then that would help show that it is okay. It’s normal. Anyone can be a different sexual orientation other than straight. This is the kind of representation that is needed.
In Captain America: The First Avenger, the main love interest for the protagonist is Peggy Carter – a female British officer.
The official Marvel wiki even states that “Rogers felt passionate about Peggy Carter” and she eventually becomes Steve Rogers’ World War II girlfriend. They maintained an established romantic relationship and were even able to display a bit of physical affection just before he disappears for the next seventy years.
While there is absolutely no denying that Steve fell in love with Peggy, he shows a very close relationship with his childhood friend Bucky. While living in Brooklyn as children, Bucky would take care of his weak, sickly friend and protect Steve from bullies.
The film immediately introduces the audience to the pair when we see Steve getting beat up in an alley. Then Bucky storms in out of nowhere and knocks the guy out, which quickly gives us the idea of how protective Bucky is over Steve and how willing he is to defend him. Bucky had no obligation to stay for as long as he has with Steve other than being friends, and yet they stayed close even up until Bucky Barnes was shipped off to war.
Fast forward to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the film give us a flashback to Bucky Barnes offering pre-serum Steve Rogers some comfort as they are leaving Steve’s mother’s funeral. Steve insists that he can “get by on [his] own” and Bucky retorts that by letting Steve know he “doesn’t have to”. This then leads to a recurring line in both Captain America films: I’m with you, ’til the end of the line.
Bucky was brainwashed for a majority of the film, but gets back his memory of Steve upon hearing this line that only his super close guy friend could’ve have said to get through to him. That’s pretty romantic.
Back to the first movie, a lot of evidence can be found from visual cues, camera angles, and acting choices. Bucky Barnes, played by actor Sebastian Stan, looking at Steve for the first time in weeks after being tortured and experimented on by the enemy.
Then when the two soldiers get separated by a fiery pit of doom, Steve calls out to Bucky and tells them to go on ahead. And of course, this brings up another romantic trope of not wanting to leave behind a person you truly care for.
The absolute desperation and stubbornness in Bucky’s face is frightening. It’s like he really cares. But of course, nothing can really beat the ever-in-love stare-and-smile, bonus points if the other person isn’t looking.
So it’s stars and stripes not stars or stripes.
Captain America: The First Avenger. Dir. Joe Johnston. Perf. Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, and Sebastian Stan. Paramount, 2011. DVD.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Dir. Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. Perf. Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, and Anthony Mackie. Marvel Studios / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, 2014. Film.
“Steven Rogers.” Marvel Movies. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Aug. 2014. <http://marvel-movies.wikia.com/wiki/Steven_Rogers>.