In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the titular Master of the Mystic Arts finds himself entangled in a mission across multiple parallel realities in an effort to stop Wanda Maximoff, aka The Scarlet Witch. Maximoff is on the hunt for teen America Chavez who has the ability to travel the Multiverse under her own power and Wanda wishes to kill her in order to steal this capability.
In the comics, America Chavez is a lesbian, but in the MCU, her sexual orientation has not been confirmed. She does, however, wear a Progress pin on her jacket representing the LGBTQIA+ Pride flag. Most have taken this to mean that MCU Chavez is much like her comic book counterpart in that regard.
With Marvel Studios still making small, measured steps towards better Queer inclusivity in the MCU, surely they'd want to confirm whether America is a lesbian in the MCU, which is something that a Marvel costume designer remarked on.
About America Chavez's Pride Pin
Speaking to Inverse, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness costume designer Graham Churchyard offered the following on the addition of the Progress pin on America Chavez's jacket. Churchyard revealed that Richie Palmer, a then-production assistant, encouraged him to add the pin to the costume and noted that it's inclusion is "a subtle start" to Chavez's LGBTQ+ journey in future movies and/or shows:
“In the first script, there was no comment about where she’s going in the MCU. I think we did a kind of subtle start to it, Richie Palmer said to me, ’Yeah, do it put it on,’” he says. “It allows enough to be shown where the character is going in the MCU.”
Churchyard also shined a light on several of the other subtle details included in America's outfit:
“I was tempted to give her a different personality like she’d have a heavy metal t-shirt of a band she’d seen in the multiverse. But Sam [Raimi] found that distracting. So I took the detail to a very subtle level. The jacket’s covered in Spanish poetry, and some Portuguese witchcraft.”
Xochitl Gomez, who plays Chavez in the MCU, responded to USA Today (via Epicstream) during the press junket for Multiverse of Madness, noting the things she appreciates about her character, including that "she just happens to be lesbian:"
“I’m all about positivity and creativity (but) sometimes I can’t ignore that completely. I’m grateful to have very supportive fans that are so much louder and more enthusiastic than haters. And it’s really important, since I do have a really big young following to show them that things happen and it’s better to stay strong and continue and move forward.” Gomez added, “I love that she is a leader and a problem solver, and she just happens to be lesbian.”
Additionally, in an interview with ComicBook.com, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige remarked that with America's character, the story of the film came first and that the team, as filmmakers, tried to be respectful to the narrative and decided to merely hint at her Queer status. According to Feige, "it is not any one thing that defines any one character."
“It’s important, as we always say, that these films present the world as it is, and the world outside your window, as they used to say in publishing. That aspect of America’s character is from the comics. We always want to adapt them as well and as truthfully as we can. I think when people see the movie, much like it is in life, it is not any one thing that defines any one character,” Feige said. “As Xochitl said, she’s a 14-year-old girl figuring out this very traumatic element of her life, which is not the LGBTQ issue, it’s the fact that she keeps being tossed around the Multiverse multiple, multiple times. Being truthful to that and showcasing that, and that is not what the movie is about, but it is an important part of the character she becomes in the comics. We wanted to touch upon that.”
Will Chavez's Queerness Be Explored?
Certainly, in order to fully do the character justice, Marvel Studios will need to confirm that America Chavez is a lesbian in the MCU. LGBTQIA+ representation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is still lacking, despite the efforts behind the scenes to make more of a push towards it.
This whole situation of not explicitly exploring a character's sexual orientation in favor of advancing the plot brings to mind another recent MCU example. Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie is bisexual. However, in Val's most recent appearance, Thor: Love and Thunder, aspects related to her love life were not able to be expanded upon in any particular detail beyond a few fleeting moments.
Now, Love and Thunder had a studio-mandated limited runtime to work with, and the same might be the case with America in Doctor Strange 2. Maybe the movie had so many things to cover, the Illuminati, Wanda breaking bad, Strange's overall arc, that there was simply no time to deal with anything else in the story, which included more details about Chavez.
But as mentioned above, the MCU is so clearly in short supply of quality Queer representation that it begs the question: should the studio be more forthright and assertive on this matter? Previously, there were concerns about films with LGBTQIA+ elements in them not playing well internationally, but the last several MCU movies haven't even been released in China and other markets, and they still did very well for themselves at the box office. So the door would now seem a bit more open to adding in more Queerness to the proceedings.
It's currently unknown where Xochitl Gomez's America Chavez will appear next, but her debut in Marvel Studios' Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now streaming on Disney+. The film will also be available on both digital and physical home release starting Tuesday, July 26.