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LGBT superheroes

Marvel’s new batch of heroes puts sexuality at the forefront

Actress Tessa Thompson (right) with actor Chris Hemsworth at San Diego Comic-Con International on Saturday Associated Press/Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision

LGBT superheroes

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is ready to gamble that its massive audiences are diehard enough to embrace its first LGBT superhero. Spoiler alert: It’s the Asgardian warrior Valkyrie.

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige confirmed Saturday at San Diego Comic-Con that fans can expect an LGBT Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, in Thor: Love and Thunder, set to release in November 2021.

Feige also indicated fans can expect other LGBT portrayals in Marvel’s forthcoming content, telling the blog io9, “How that impacts the story remains to be seen with that level of representation you’ll see across our films, not in just Thor 4.”

Thompson teased the news during Comic-Con’s Thor: Love and Thunder reveal, telling fans, “As the new king, she needs to find her queen. … That will be her first order of business.” The movie also will include actress Natalie Portman as the first female to wield Thor’s hammer, leading some to speculate a Portman-Thompson hookup.

These absurdities might surprise some, but Marvel has been inching toward LGBT plotlines in recent years under increasingly intense pressure and scrutiny from activists. The staggeringly successful Avengers: Endgame included a short scene of a homosexual man, played by the movie’s co-director, Joe Russo, lamenting the loss of his partner. “It was incredibly important to us to have a gay character represented somewhere in [the Avenger] movies,” Russo told The Hollywood Reporter in May. “We felt so strongly about it that I wanted to play that character in the film.”

Meanwhile, Marvel Comic’s X-Men series Northstar, considered the first comic book about an openly gay superhero, featured a same-sex wedding in 2012.

Marvel isn’t the only comic franchise introducing LGBT superheroes. Earlier this year, the CW Network rolled out a Batwoman TV series featuring a lesbian crime fighter played by actress Ruby Rose, who is a lesbian in real life. In 2016, DC Comic’s Wonder Woman writer Greg Rucka told fans that lead character Diana is bisexual.

Venice Film Festival officials announce the festival lineup in Rome on Thursday.

Venice Film Festival officials announce the festival lineup in Rome on Thursday. Associated Press/Photo by Domenico Stinellis

Venice Film Festival embraces Netflix

The 76th Venice Film Festival will spotlight three Netflix productions alongside Hollywood films in its lineup. Venice has been more welcoming of the streaming giant than the Cannes Film Festival, which shut out Netflix for the second year in a row.

Venice’s 21 competing titles, announced Thursday in Rome, include Netflix dramas The Laundromat starring Meryl Streep and Antonio Banderas, Marriage Story featuring Scarlett Johansson, and David Michôd’s The King, an adaptation of Shakespearean plays.

The world’s oldest film festival runs Aug. 28 to Sept. 7. It also features Hollywood productions like Joker with Joaquin Phoenix and Ad Astra starring Brad Pitt.

While Venice embraces Netflix, Cannes has refused to include the streaming service’s movies in its competition due to opposition from French exhibitors and the country’s strict screening policies. After the festival rejected Alfonso Cuarón’s Netflix movie Roma, the film went on to earn 10 Oscar nominations, including best picture.

Earlier this year, the Berlin Film Festival featured its first Netflix film, Isabel Coixet’s drama Elisa y Marcela, drawing outrage from protesters who claim Netflix fails to play by the rules.

In a statement released Thursday, the International Union of Cinemas, a group representing movie theater operators in 38 European territories, criticized Venice’s inclusion of Netflix films, calling it a “marketing tool.” —M.J.

Venice Film Festival officials announce the festival lineup in Rome on Thursday.

Venice Film Festival officials announce the festival lineup in Rome on Thursday. Associated Press/Photo by Domenico Stinellis

Unwanted bonus buy

Fashion retailer Forever 21 said “whoops” when several customers complained about receiving Atkins weight loss bars with their plus-size online orders. Offended customers called the retailer “fatphobic” and said they would no longer shop at the store, which specializes in inexpensive, dress-code violating clothes for teens and young women. An ex-Forever 21 shopper told Inside Edition the lemon-flavored bar came at the bottom of her bag, under her new skirts and dresses.

The retailer said all online orders for a while included the bars: “From time to time, Forever 21 surprises our customers with free test products from third parties in their e-commerce orders.” That wasn’t the surprise some customers wanted. —Leah Hickman

Weekend flicks

Looking for a thought-provoking movie to watch this weekend? WORLD’s Megan Basham recommends Chappaquiddick, available for streaming on Netflix. The movie relates the events surrounding the 1969 death of Mary Jo Kopechne. The 28-year-old campaign strategist was a passenger in a car driven by Sen. Ted Kennedy when he drove off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, Mass. In her review on The World and Everything in It, Basham calls the film, rated PG-13, a searing, personal drama about the damage wrought by extreme privilege. —Lynde Langdon

Mary Jackson

Mary is a book reviewer and senior writer for WORLD. She is a World Journalism Institute and Greenville University graduate who previously worked for the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal. Mary resides with her family in the San Francisco Bay area.



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