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Wed Jul 10, 2019, 05:11 AM

Birds of Prey Might Get a Gay Villain--But Is That a Good Thing?

We talk about queer representation a lot on PRIDE. Despite all the progress that has been made in recent years, there is still a great need for marginalized and underrepresented folks—like women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community—to see themselves represented in mainstream media because it shows us that we can be and do anything. But does that mean we should also be portrayed as villains in movies and TV shows, especially after decades of being villainized by society in real life?

According to unnamed sources in a report by the We Got This Covered blog, Warner Bros.' upcoming DC film Birds of Prey (Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn passion project that we've covered extensively and that we've been looking forward to for quite some already) is set to feature a villain named Black Mask, played by veteran actor Ewan McGregor. The site reports that Black Mask will be portrayed as gay and will have moments of "sexual tension" with another villainous character named Victor Zsasz, played by a platinum blonde Chris Messina.

While the idea of sexual tension between Ewan McGregor and Chris Messina sounds good on paper, it's hard for us to get over the rumors about Black Mask, literally a murderous supervillain, being portrayed as gay. Before you go calling us sensitive, remember that before this recent rise of positive LGBTQ representation, queercoding was a big thing in Hollywood. (YouTuber Rowan Ellis breaks it all down perfectly in a video about why Disney Villains seem so gay, if you're not familiar with it.) So many villainous characters in different TV shows and movies showcased offensive, cliché, stereotypical behavior that was associated with queer people, which in turn made it seem like queer people were bad IRL. While viewers and critics are more aware of and ready to call out queercoding when it happens, it's still something that does plague some of our fave shows and films, and we'd hope that in the year of our lord 2019, queercoding wouldn't even be a topic of conversation in a box-office film like Birds of Prey. But here we are...

To be fair, Birds of Prey hasn't come out yet and Black Mask's sexuality has not been officially confirmed. Who knows, if he does turn out to be gay, maybe the film will give Black Mask a nuanced and well-done story arc, despite him being a villain. Considering the extensive history of queercoding, though, it's understandable that many fans are a little...apprehensive.

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See also: Report: DC Universe to Introduce Its First Gay Supervillain

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