As I was finishing up my Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recap last night, silently bemoaning the fact that the very lesbian Agent Victoria Hand still hasn’t come out on-screen, an ironic thing happened: Black Canary (played by Caity Lotz) revealed herself as the bisexual ex-girlfriend of Nyssa al Ghul (played by Katrina Law) on CW’s Arrow, making them the first queer female characters in Marvel or DC’s cinematic universes.
Here’s how it went down:
Not too very long ago Sara Lance was rescued by the League of Assassins after nearly drowning in a boating accident. To show her thanks, all they asked was that she train with them to become a super-secret super-killer. And when Ras al Ghul, the leader of the League of Assassins, asks you to do something, you pretty much agree, or you pretty much die. Sara trained with the LoA but decided it really wasn’t the life for her, so she escaped and took up with Oliver Queen/Green Arrow & Co., which has allowed her to explore her superheroic Black Canary side. (They have a lot in common; his Pops was also involved in a shipwreck.)
But this week, Ras sent his daughter, Nyssa al Ghul, to bring back Sara, something she is more than happy to do—because she’s in love with her! The two of them run into each other outside a bar where Sara was just telling her dad that the League of Assassins wasn’t going to give up on her, and they go right ahead and make right out out. After they call out Oliver for peeping on them from the shadows, they take a walk by the river. Nyssa wants Sara to come home, but Sara’s not really feeling it. I mean, she’s feeling feelings for Nyssa , but she’s not feeling the thing where Nyssa’s dad is a sociopathic crime ring king. So, of course, Nyssa kidnaps Sara’s mom as leverage, which forces Sara to come out to her dad, something he doesn’t freak out about at all. Frankly, he’s just glad someone was kind to Sara when she was in captivity.
Sara finally rescues her mom and confronts Nyssa about how she’s acting like a maniac, so, “in the name of Ras al Ghul,” Nyssa releases her. But that’s not the last we’ll see of her! Arrow boss Andrew Kreisberg told E! online: “This was not Katrina’s only appearance this season. Fans can expect to see her pop back up in Starling City sometime after episode 18.”
For now, though, it looks like Sara is getting into a relationship with Green Arrow himself. At the end of last night’s episode, she made out hot and heavy with him, which Kreisberg says is true to the reveal that Sara is queer: “We really wanted to approach it like not be salacious and be sensitive and be realistic. We actually specifically avoid using the term bisexual. We didn’t want to label her at all. Let her be her own person.”
Let’s just set aside that unfortunate implication that the words “bisexual” is synonymous with “salacious” and talk about what all this means in the grand scheme of lesbian/bi visibility in the complicated world of comic books. Like I mentioned above, this a revolutionary moment in the Marvel/DC TV/movie world because no Big Two female character has never expressed her queerness on-screen before. In the Batman animated universe, we’ve seen Maggie Sawyer and Renee Montoya, both of whom have dated Kate Kane, and we’ve also seen Batwoman herself. But there’s never been any indication that the women are more than buddies. Mystique has shown up in multiple on-screen incarnations of The X-Men, but there’s never been any hint about her bisexuality. (She had a longterm relationship with Irene Adler/Destiny.) And, of course, the aforementioned Agent Victoria Hand from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is super gay in the Marvel comics universe, but there hasn’t been a peep about it on the show yet.
It’s actually really encouraging to see Arrow introducing a guest starring lesbian character and exploring the bisexuality of a recurring character. It softens the blow I’ve been feeling since DC’s giant Batwoman debacle, and losing the two queer characters in Fearless Defenders when Marvel cancelled the book, and the demise of the always-destined-for-death Dark Annisia, who was in love with the She-Devil in Gail Simone’s Red Sonja reboot.
Now, it’s your move, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!
You can watch the last night’s Arrow at CW’s official website.