Marvel’s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law just revealed that one of its characters is queer… well, sort of – if you squint.
The latest episode in the Disney+ series saw the titular character talking to her best friend, Nikki Ramos (Ginger Gonzaga), about the woes of online dating. To which Nikki responds that “hetero life is grim.”
This is the kind of blink-and-you-miss-it, plausible deniability moment of queerness that we’ve come to expect from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Alas, just like Tessa Thompson has always been an eager champion of making Valkyrie’s barely-there queerness more visible, Gonzaga chose to be perfectly frank with viewers about her character’s sexuality.
The actress confirmed during an interview with TVLine that Nikki is “definitely queer, she’s free, she’ll love anyone.” She also offered up her thoughts on the importance of getting that line in while talking with Total Film.
“It was so special to me,” she said. “That’s her. That’s her, that’s me, that’s what we want for Nikki and that’s how I was playing it. It’s just so important for everything that Nikki is. She’s always trying to tell Jen to be free, she’s always telling Jen to embrace her uniqueness and her different-ness.”
Unfortunately, it sounds like we won’t be getting anything more from Nikki’s love life for the time being, and it’s unclear whether her queerness will be addressed any further beyond how Gonzaga opted to play it — although the actress did claim Nikki has a crush on co-worker Mallory Book (Renée Elise Goldsberry).
Marvel’s TV shows have historically been better about queer representation than their movies, although that was in the era of Jessica Jones and Runaways, before they started pointedly treating the shows as an extension of the film-driven MCU. Since then, representation has largely remained bleak on both fronts, with the only real exception being The Eternals.
And while dating, like coming out, shouldn’t be a requirement to introduce a character as queer, it is a little difficult to find much joy in this tiny nugget of representation with the MCU’s legacy of heteronormativity dragging it down. Maybe it would be easier to have faith that this might mean something more than tokenism one day if not for that.
In the meantime, though, we’ll have to wait for Marvel execs to take a cue from their actors and allow stories to embrace the rainbow through more than a single line.