Warner Bros. and DC Films’ “Wonder Woman” broke box office records when it hit theaters this summer. Now the franchise has a prime opportunity to break new ground by following the source comics’ example and making Diana bisexual in the upcoming sequel.
The film follows Gal Gadot as Diana, princess of the Amazonian island Themyscira, as she grows up and leaves her home behind to protect humankind during World War I. In the recent DC “Rebirth” comics run — meant to bring Wonder Woman back to her origin story — writer Greg Rucka confirmed that Diana is bisexual. “The answer is obviously yes,” he said, noting that Diana has been in love and had serious relationships with women.
Director Patty Jenkins’ film laid the groundwork for this story by making coy references to the fact that the Amazons were involved in romantic relationships with each other, and now the writers of the sequel have a historic opportunity to include a character who is more overtly defined as queer. Never before has there been an openly LGBTQ — in this case bisexual — leading superhero on the big screen.
While Rucka’s “Rebirth” run began after principal shooting for the film had already finished, “Wonder Woman 2” is perfectly positioned to pull from this storyline and take a huge step forward for the film industry. GLAAD’s most recent Studio Responsibility Index found that only 23 releases from the seven biggest studios in 2016 included lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) characters — nearly half (10) of those films included less than one minute of screen time for queer characters.
Portraying Diana as bi would also be a welcome sign of progress for comic book films. While LGBTQ characters have made huge strides on the pages of comics, very few have made the jump to the big screen.
The sum total of LGBTQ representation that GLAAD has counted in Disney’s Marvel films are seconds-long cameos, like out news anchor Thomas Roberts appearing as himself in “The Avengers” and “Iron Man 3.”
Similarly, DC/Warner Bros.’ “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” was only counted as LGBTQ-inclusive for cameos by out news commentators. Fox’s “Deadpool” was confirmed as pansexual in outside press though most of the film’s references to this are in service of proving how outrageous his character is. And Warner’s “Suicide Squad” completely erased Harley Quinn’s bisexual identity in her jump from the comics to the screen.
But there are great opportunities in several major studios’ upcoming slates. Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok” will reportedly include the gay character Korg. Next February’s “Black Panther” includes Ayo, one of the leads in the miniseries “World of Wakanda” which follows Ayo’s relationship with a fellow Dora Milaje bodyguard named Aneka. However, it doesn’t bode well that Marvel rushed to issue a statement saying “that specific love storyline […] was not used as a source” when press outlets read as preview clip as romantic.
Fox is developing a film adaptation of BOOM! Studios’ GLAAD Media Award-winning comic series “Lumberjanes.” Warner Bros.’ “Gotham City Sirens” could include the romantic relationship between Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. Meanwhile, Warner is also developing a standalone film for Justice League member The Flash that would star Ezra Miller, who identifies himself as queer — though it’s unclear what his character’s sexuality will be.
Given the mass appeal of comic book films, this genre is the next frontier in GLAAD’s work to advocate for LGBTQ-inclusiveness. Entertainment has a reciprocal relationship with society: reflecting social attitudes while also shaping them. As audiences learn about, care for, and identify with people different than themselves.
For a film with the international reach and cultural cache of “Wonder Woman,” portraying its lead character as bisexual would send an impactful message. A bisexual superhero could be a lifeline to LGBTQ youth living in areas of the world where LGBTQ people are persecuted or where acceptance is not the norm. While bisexual people make up the majority of the LGBTQ community, they are less likely than gay or lesbian people to be out to friends and family. The negative tropes that entertainment has long perpetuated about bi people, like being predatory or “confused” about their sexuality, can make coming out difficult.
“Wonder Woman” fans are speaking up. As part of Bisexual Awareness Week, Gianna Collier-Pitts (a GLAAD campus ambassador) started a Change.org petition calling on Warner Bros. to commit to portraying Diana as bisexual in the sequel.
Diana’s character is grounded in the power of being truthful and forthright. Being an out and proud bi woman would be in line with her ideals to fully live her own truth and recognize all parts of herself. While Wonder Woman is already a hero to girls and women around the world, letting her be fully out would make her a hero to an entirely new community of people hungry for a hero who reflects their lives.