According to recent polls, fans of the Marvel “cinematic universe” think Captain America (aka Steve Rogers) and his old buddy Bucky Barnes (aka Winter Soldier) should hook up. This follows Star Wars Episode VII where a lot of people thought Finn and Poe should hook up.
Part of this seems like an immature reaction people have whenever two characters work together really closely. Like all those years Mulder and Scully didn’t hook up on the X-Files there were gigabytes of fanfics hooking them up. There was probably just as much with Star Trek Voyager. (I’m kind of afraid to Google for Parks and Recreation fanfics hooking up Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson.) And then sometimes people get their wish like Lois and Clark or that one X-Files movie I never watched and people aren’t that impressed with it. Some people can’t seem to grasp that two characters can work together and just be friends.
But also I think it’s a sign that there are plenty of people who are ready for an LBGTQ (and however many other letters they’ve added since I wrote this) character in one of those big franchises. Because really I can’t think of one. The closest I can think of was one of the original Minutemen in Watchmen was a lesbian and brutally murdered in the credits for her “indecent lifestyle.” Even the X-Men, whose mutants are seen as a symbolic device for the LBGTQ community, doesn’t seem to have a character who is actually LBGTQ.
The reason for this is pretty obvious: Hollywood is pretty conservative. Individual stars might be liberal but studios are anything but. Think how long it took to get a Wonder Woman movie. Or a Black Panther movie. And while Wolverine is on his third solo movie Storm has zero solo movies. Or how people lost their minds over a black Stormtrooper and a black Johnny Storm. Then there’s all the whitewashing in movies like Gods of Egypt.
No one wants to be the guy who kills the golden goose, so as long as straight heroes are making tons of money for Disney, they have little impetus to add LBGTQ characters. The last thing they want is hard-line Christians picketing theaters and attracting a lot of negative news stories. Plus there’s always the risk of damaging foreign markets. That was the argument an exec used for whitewashing the role of the “Ancient One” in Doctor Strange: if we cast an Asian actor, Chinese people won’t go watch the movie! Um…yeah. Sounds like you’re straining to do some explaining.
But with polls like I mentioned so close together it points towards a hankering that will eventually have to be satisfied. Probably something small at first, like a secondary character, and then if sales are good a more mainstream character. I just wouldn’t expect to see Cap and Bucky lubing each other up anytime soon.