We are just one episode away from the series(?) finale of WandaVision. There are still many unanswered question, but one thing that is certain is that Billy and Tommy are here to stay.
As Kate Bishop, America Chavez, Stature, and other Young Avengers are set to make their debut, it is highly unlikely that the twins of Wanda Maximoff will be left out of the lineup.
Now, despite their confirmed presence moving forward, one thing that is yet to be determined is will they depict Billy, or Wiccan rather, as comics accurate? By this I of course mean, will they embrace Billy as the superhero with an amazing same-sex relationship?
Like most big franchise projects the MCU is no stranger to the pandering trap. Avengers Endgame was built up to have a big LGBT reveal which turned out to be a brief pop-up from one of the Russo brothers. In other news, it was revealed that The Eternals would feature the first LGBT hero in the MCU. This was an exciting development as fingers were crossed for the lead, Ikaris, played by Richard Madden, to be the man but it turns out the supporting character, Phastos, played by Brian Tyree Henry will be our guy.
Any representation is good representation? Sure! However, we are no strangers to how “inclusion” has worked in big budget films. We can’t say for sure in this case but in previous big studio projects, that have included an LGBT character, this portion of their identity has been reserved for a short clip that could be easily edited out for international markets. We saw this for Beauty and the Beast as well as the Rise of Skywalker.
In other words, had they made the character Ikaris gay not only would it have had representation front and center, but it would have been nearly impossible to edit anything out because most heroes have a love interest! Even if they don’t, standing as the protagonist has to see development of character and sooner or later such an element of personality has to be addressed; Especially as something so deeply developed as the MCU.
I’m excited to see Phastos on screen, but I am curious about Billy and his future.
Billy is not really a supporting character. Sure, he belongs to an ensemble but even then he and his boyfriend, Teddy, are front and center in many of the team’s plots. Not only that, they were introduced into the comics as a couple! They have been together as a unit and have functioned as such ever since 2005! In other words, you can’t really bring in Billy without depicting him as LGBT. You just can’t.
Now, this is where I think Marvel and Disney intend to have their cake and eat it too.
With the introduction of Marvel television shows we have been given a medium where characters can have more screen time and development.
Looking at the phase four film lineup we see that the overwhelming majority of the projects, despite having singular hero titles, are ensemble projects. In other words, marvel films are becoming the screen equivalent of comic crossover events where television shows may be where heroes are further explored and developed.
When it comes to the case of Billy and Teddy, I think an honest and open portrayal of their relationship and affection will be saved for Disney+, where projects live as part of a bulk streaming library, and for feature films their relationship will take more of a backseat with just short clips that can be easily edited out for international markets.
I wish that wasn’t the world but it IS the world we live in. For now, I will take it. To have these characters on streaming to explore their relationship will mean audiences will be able to engage the material privately without having to anger the masses in theaters. It is also a good subtle push in the right direction that may ultimately embrace characters like these internationally.
Who is set to play an older Billy? We have yet to find out! Hopes are that the twins will do one final age up this Friday to reveal the official casting.