When it comes to LGBT representation, DC is not known for its diversity. In many ways, Marvel Comics has been slaying that game since 1992, but it took until Jessica Jones in 2015 for the MCU to finally represent queer characters. On the flip side, the DC TV shows have casually established a diverse cast of characters since 2012, from the bisexual Sara Lance to lesbian detective Maggie Sawyer joining Supergirl in Season 2.
This is thanks in a large part to the showrunners. Executive producer Greg Berlanti recently spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about why he's dedicated to introducing as much diversity as possible to the DCTV multiverse.
So, why is this so important? Obviously, we create stories for escapist purposes, but when it comes to superhero tales, these characters take on a special symbolism.
Avatars Of Identity
Superheroes are in many ways the modern idols of fiction, fulfilling the same role in our culture as the knights of legend and champions of myth. As viewers, we tend to live vicariously through the characters we see as similar to ourselves — superheroes aren't just powerful, they're empowering. Which is why it's so important to ensure that everyone has a hero they can empathize with.
Berlanti — showrunner for The Flash and executive producer for Arrow, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow — explained his stance on representation to THR.
"As a kid, representation really mattered. For most of my childhood, even through college, there was a lot of feeling very alone. I loved TV, so when those very special episodes of anything came or when certain characters reflected the world I lived in, I felt connected. I wanted to contemporize these comics that I loved growing up and have them reflect the society that we live in now. It's still about working in some of those very real qualities so that everyone feels represented."
Everyone wants to see themselves become a hero, and it's good to know that the people running the DC shows understand why that's important.
The best example of a character like this in the DCTV multiverse is Sara Lance, known first as the heroic Black Canary in Arrow, then the White Canary in Legends of Tomorrow after her resurrection. Although her main love interest throughout her run on Arrow was the eponymous Oliver Queen, the Season 2 episode "Heir to the Demon" established that Sara was in fact bisexual, having had a romantic relationship with Nyssa al Ghul.
This makes Sara the only long-running main character in the DCTV multiverse who happens to be queer. Legends of Tomorrow explored her bisexuality further, giving her a female love interest in the episode "Night of the Hawk," reuniting her with Nyssa, if briefly, in "River of Time."
Sara isn't by any means the only queer character in the DC shows — police captain David Singh of The Flash is gay and married, Arrow Season 4 regular Curtis Holt is also gay, and Supergirl will introduce lesbian Maggie Sawyer in Season 2. In addition to being an awesome detective, Maggie is also Batwoman's longterm girlfriend in the comics, which is an exciting prospect for Supergirl, though seeing Batwoman in the show is admittedly unlikely.
However, as fantastic as it is to see these small successes, there's still a long way to go.
DC has a checkered history with LGBT characters, especially when it comes to Maggie Sawyer. Soon after Marvel had their first gay wedding (on the cover of a comic, no less), the writing team on the New 52 Batwoman comic quit because DC higher-ups objected to Maggie and Kate Kane tying the knot. In fact, the marriage between these two women was expressly forbidden.
That was back in 2013. DC seems to have reversed its stance on this recently though — an issue of Batgirl last year saw two women tie the knot, and one of those women was transgender. Of course, a one-off issue featuring minor characters getting married is a little different from one of DC's biggest heroes getting hitched to her longterm girlfriend, but it's still progress. Here's hoping someday Maggie and Kate can get married too. (Hey, I'd settle for Maggie making a casual reference to her wife Kate in Supergirl Season 2.)
Otherwise the DC comics have had some fantastic examples of positive LGBT representation, like Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy's relationship. The recent continuity reset Rebirth also revealed that Aqualad is gay.
Overall, DC seems to be moving toward a more inclusive future, and the CW shows are a big part of that. There are already far more queer characters in the DC shows than in Marvel's, and with Berlanti continuing to make LGBT representation one of his priorities, we're hopeful for the future.