You’d think that maybe the first same-sex kiss in the MCU would’ve been between Victoria Hand and Isabelle Hartley, reuniting after it’s revealed that Tori had only been pretending to be dead. You’d think that the first queer kiss would mean something for the company and the direction the cinematic universe is headed.
You’d be wrong. And I’d be wrong. We’d all be, as Chowder once said, “Wrong, horribly, horribly wrong!”
And with the decision at Marvel to push back Black Panther and Captain Marvel for yet another (likely) white Spider-Man origin story, something’s got to give. You know, dear reader, that here at GeeksOut, we’re all about queer representation in the media. It’s in our ‘about’ section.
But this wasn’t representation. This was shock value. And someone needs to talk about how poorly the MCU has decided to treat queer women.
First, we have Victoria Hand. I’ve spoken about Victoria at length in Agents of SHADE, so I’ll just summarize with this: there is no reason for her to actually be dead. There are a million and one ways that she could have been faking, that she could’ve tricked or been testing Grant, but the writers don’t seem to think that matters. They would rather have something to dangle over Ward’s head than have a living, breathing queer woman.
Then, of course, we have Isabelle Hartley. Touted as having a much larger role in the show, queer icon Lucy Lawless was cast as a character that only appeared once in comics to be Victoria Hand’s girlfriend.
She was killed off in the first episode of season two. The writers of the show mentioned never bringing up Tori or Izzy’s sexual orientation because they “didn’t want to be know as [the people] that killed two lesbians.”
Well, guys. Who’s going to tell them?
Which brings us to last night, to our same-sex kiss on Agent Carter. A point about Dottie, before I continue:
- She has been, from an early age, brainwashed. And not just brainwashed in the abuse sense, as we’ve discussed in SHADE (though I’m sure there was plenty of it.) I’m talking about real sci-fi style brainwashing. And the show, as of right now, seems content to make her the villain. It’s unlikely, at this point, that Dottie’s going to see any justice. We can hope that Peggy may continue to be sympathetic to her, to what happened, but it’s unlikely. And let’s keep in mind before we discuss that brainwashing like that is ‘irreversible’ that Natasha Romanoff is doing just fine with her free will.
There’s a couple ways to look at this kiss. On the one hand, there’s a more positive way to spin it in terms of representation. Given that Dottie has literally been bred into being a living weapon, she would obviously know countless ways to render a person unconscious. She chose to apply Peggy’s lipstick and kiss Peggy on the mouth. This could mean that some part of Dottie, some part that is allowed the slightest choice, has affection for Peggy. That she kissed Peggy because there is a part of her that actually wanted to. If we explore this, then fine. I’ll give it to the MCU. Let Dottie’s affections for Peggy be a stepping stone to undoing her brainwashing. That would be amazing.
Which is why I get the feeling that it’s not going to happen. See, one of Agent Carter’s key flaws has been its overall avoidance of major minority politics of the time. There are no center characters of color, which keeps the show from having to have a discussion of race. So do I really trust them to have a discussion of queerness in the 40s with only two episodes left in the season?
Of course not.
And here’s the sad thing: Dottie could very well be a queer character. But at this point, if she is, it’s going to stick her directly in the ‘queer predator’ category that most bi and homosexual female characters find themselves in. Let’s not forget that in Agents of SHIELD, Victoria Hand was set up to be the Clairvoyant at the end of episode 16, a ruse that continued halfway into episode 17.
This is a problem. The audience, as a whole, is still willing to see queer women as inherently bad. So it makes them easy villains. It means the quickest way to ensure the audience knows you’re dealing with a lady villain is to make her interested in the same sex.
I will stop to mention that, again, Victoria’s queerness was never mentioned on the show. But of course, the writers were fully aware of it. And if you watch the queer coding in both her ‘villainy’ (“we’re having a coming out”) and then the way that John Garrett is queer coded when he’s revealed as the actual Clairvoyant, you get a very clear picture of how queerness is still used to make a villain seem more evil.
It’s lazy writing. It’s offensive writing. And it’s not another tally that Agent Carter needs on its ledger.
We have two episodes left in the season, so I do understand that this may be jumping the gun a bit. But with the poor track record proceeding it, I don’t have reason to have a lot of faith in Agent Carter or the MCU. And that’s a huge shame.