Today’s pool of movie superheroes is growing in terms of diversity. White superheroes like Superman and Captain America are still adored, but modern audiences are demanding more relatable superheroes. Fortunately, we live in the 2020s — a land where white superheroes aren’t the only ones who reign supreme.
Consider the current superhero landscape: Marvel recently introduced people of color in their pool of silver screen heroes: Black Panther, Shang-Chi, Monica Rambeau, Miss Marvel — everyone’s getting a representation in the world of superheroes. The world is more colorful.
Apart from race, the world is also opening up to diversity in sexual identities. Despite not being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, 20th Century Fox’s Deadpool introduced an uncanny superhero named Negasonic Teenage Warhead.
At first glance, she seems like a normal angsty emo sidekick mutant. All eyes were on the Merck with a Mouth. But come “Deadpool 2,” audiences (particularly those who haven’t read the comics) realized they were watching Marvel’s first explicitly LGBT superhero.
Yep, you read that right. Our teenage Negasonic Warhead is the LGBT superhero the world needs.
First Things First: Who is Negasonic Teenage Warhead?
Since the “Deadpool” movies were pretty much about Deadpool, not much is known about Negasonic Teenage Warhead, unless you read the comics.
Born Ellie Phimister, Negasonic Teenage Warhead is a mutant known for her precognitive and telepathic powers. She was the typical Genonshan teen: dark hair, pale skin and all goth. In the comics, she was a student of Emma Frost. During her earlier days with the X-Men, she had a recurring nightmare where all people in Genosha would die. This happens and Emma Frost, who survived the genocide due to her mutation, carried Ellie’s corpse. She suffered a mental breakdown when she realized her student was dead.
Except, she wasn’t. Negasonic Teenage Warhead was seen alive and as a member of the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle. During a fight with the X-Men, however, it was revealed that this version of Ellie was an illusion from Emma Frost. She was eventually resurrected again by the Transmode Virus by Eli Bard and Selene.
Her connection with Wade Wilson (aka Deadpool) continues after the events of Necrosha. She uses her powers to establish a new life for herself until she was captured by Deadpool, the latter unaware that an organization called Umbral Dynamics wanted to rid Ellie of her powers.
Wade and Ellie eventually became friends. In one instance, she cheered him up while she was doing a mission for S.H.I.E.L.D. Negasonic Teenage Warhead used her powers to make Deadpool costumes for the group.
She remains the only Merc in Deadpool’s employ after he defected to Hydra.
This “emo” teen is not without the best abilities, either. Negasonic Teenage Warhead’s powers and abilities include the following:
- In “X-Force #24,” Negasonic is the only person aware that Proteus holds Destiny. She also displays her precognitive powers, which announced her victorious return to the Inner Circle.
- In “X-Men #115,” she manifests psychic powers and telepathy.
- In “Deadpool & the Mercs for Money,” Ellie can create a house for herself out of thin air. She can also overpower professional mercenaries in hand-to-hand combat. Over the series, she shows great power in terms of harnessing, absorbing and generating radioactive energy.
The First Queer Superhero on the Silver Screen
Negasonic Teenage Warhead first appeared on the silver screen in “Deadpool.” During her short scenes, moviegoers could only speculate about her sexuality. For some people, she looked queer. She sounded queer. And she acted queer. But the film didn’t offer any explanation on her character, especially since it was centered on Ryan Reynold’s crazy antics as the Merc with a Mouth.
But “Deadpool 2” saved the day when the film introduced Yukio, a chain-wielding mutant who is also Negasonic Teenage Warhead’s girlfriend.
You read that right — girlfriend.
The scene in question takes place when Negasonic enters the scene with a bubbly Yukio, the couple holding hands. She introduces Yukio to Deadpool as “my girlfriend, you intolerant sh*t.” The couple shares plenty of scenes, adding color to the film as they listen to Wade and his commentaries. In the film’s final act, Deadpool even tells Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Yukio that they make a “super cute couple!”
Yukio is the perfect partner for the sullen and tattooed emo kid that is Negasonic. In the film, she’s always greeting Deadpool with her high-pitch and bubbly voice. When Negasonic is about to be rude to him, her girlfriend nudges her and says, “Don’t be mean.”
Most of their screen time shows the pair together, whether they’re drinking tea or saving the world. As Deadpool said, they are a cute couple but they are more than that. They are also a breath of fresh air for queer fans of superheroes.
It Took Movie Studios Long Enough
Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Yukio’s romance is a welcome change in a world of heterosexual superheroes. Prior to their appearance, Marvel and DC had not portrayed queer relationships in the movies, despite being canon in the comics.
The most that Marvel has done is include short cameos of queer TV personality Thomas Roberts in “Iron Man 3” and “The Avengers.” The studio cut a scene in “Thor: Ragnarok” where Valkyrie showcases her bisexuality. They also ignored the same-sex relationship Ayo and Okoye share in the “Black Panther” universe.
The DC Universe hasn’t done much either. The “Wonder Woman” film may have broken many box office records, but it failed to include Diana’s bisexuality. Even Harley Quinn of Suicide Squad’s queerness was ignored in the films.
The problem with today’s studios is they do not wholeheartedly consider including queer characters in their circle. It’s almost as if a character’s sexual identity is just an afterthought. For example, Valkyrie’s bisexual storyline seems forced, almost as if the producers want to push the agenda for the sake of diversity.
Why is there a “forcing” of queer representation? It’s unfortunate proof that there remains an issue with how members of the LGBT community are viewed in society. No one ever said “stop forcing heterosexuality into films” because straight has always been the default.
Ryan Reynolds dared to break the LGBTQ+ barrier by suggesting Negasonic Teenage Warhead’s storyline in “Deadpool 2.” According to Brianna Hilderbrand, the actress behind Negasonic, Reynolds came up with the idea and suggested it to her, which she eagerly accepted. Hilderbrand, who is part of the queer community, was eager to portray the first LGBT character in movies.
Why Queer Representation in Superhero Movies Matter
Although Negasonic Teenage Warhead is a breath of fresh air in the superhero community, she is also a battle cry for change. Simply put: we need more queer characters LEADING a massive superhero movie.
The sidelining of LGBT characters discourages queer viewers by making them think that straight people will always come first, even in superhero movies. What the world needs right now is a superhero film led by a queer character. Having a queer lead will normalize the queer identity.
Think of it this way: superheroes are role models. They are the epitome of all things great, noble and true. Sure, they may have their flaws but their struggles towards victory inspire a generation to be better versions of themselves. How many kids have expressed their desire to be Iron Man or Batman?
Imagine if modern superheroes were queer. Queer kids would have someone to look up to, not just try to fit themselves into. Having a queer superhero equal to the status of Captain America, Wonder Woman and the other leads would be massive, especially to young people. Even if they’re not superheroes, just to have a lead that is queer. A gay Katniss Everdeen, anyone?
It wouldn’t just inspire queer kids, too. Non-queer children watching these superhero movies will also view their LGBT friends in a more empowering and positive light. When they watch these films, they’ll know anyone can be anything.
Despite being known for her sullen and emo attitude, Negasonic Teenage Warhead is a beacon of positive change in a world of heterosexual superheroes. Her appearance on the silver screen will hopefully encourage movie producers to not just “force” queerness in films, but to make them the star of the superhero movies of today.