Civil War & Stucky: Why Good Representation Helps All Our Narratives

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I am not even going to lie: I am Stucky-shipping filth.

For those who have no idea what I just wrote, this means that in the steaming dumpster I call a brain, I take a great deal of satisfaction from seeing a romantic timbre to the relationship between Steve Rogers (portrayed by Chris Evans) and Bucky (portrayed by Sebastian Stan) in the MCU. Lots of folks have myriad feelings about this, but at the end of the day, I don’t really give a damn. My fandom, my dumpster fire.

But why do I do this? Why is this so important to me, enough to make me watch with hawk-like raptness any interaction between those characters, just waiting to pounce on the slightest indication of that romantic relationship, however super-heroics-fraught it may be?

Because it is a story I have always wanted, and continue to want.

Yes, this undermines what its creators might have intended to simply be the expression of deep platonic friendship between the two characters. But if you were to switch the genders of one of these characters, there is literally no way this story and its characters motivations would not be played out as a high-octane action/romance. None. We all know this.

Which tells us a couple of things:

We need more stories in which men who are action heroes are allowed to fall in love. Men in all walks of life fall in love. The Marvel Universe has gay characters. Why the hell haven’t we seen any of them yet? Why the hell are none of them on the roster for upcoming movies? (And I’m sorry, but Deadpool does not qualify, because no matter how pansexual he may or many not be, there’s no fucking way he’s going to be depicted getting into an actual relationship with another man.) Not one is even hinted at as a cameo character, to say nothing of as a main one.

We need more stories in which men and women strike up powerful, platonic relationships as equals. This is the other half of this coin. Unsurprisingly, Captain America and Black Widow have given us the best version of this in Captain America: Winter Soldier, but I want more. The fact that their interaction will literally be the one people point to when you ask for that is because it’s the only one we’ve gotten in the MCU to date.

This is why representation matters. There are stories we want. We want to see ourselves in some stories, and I don’t think it’s too much to ask for inclusion in some way in the MCU, which has an immense queer following, geeky and otherwise. We need more of a length and breadth of these kinds of stories. We have enough in which straight dudes bro out, with the occasional female character standing by as a token hottie who may eventually turn into someone’s love interest. This isn’t me being harsh. This is me being real. We deserve these stories too. Non-queer people who are watching these films deserve these stories, too.

You want me to stop injecting my narratives into your intended one? Then give me some narratives that resonate with me, too. Show me where I would belong, if I were one of these heroes. Give a queer kid the hope that his gayness doesn’t stand in the way of being a hero in his own life, because whether or not you intend it, when you show us no queer heroes, you enforce the notion that the two are mutually exclusive.

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