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Marvel Introduces Its First Queer Leading Character

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The first episode of Jessica Jones doesn’t go public until November 20th — and though we avoid major spoilers, you should turn back now if you want to go into the series knowing nothing.

So, a few days ago Marvel and Netflix dropped a bomb on New York Comic Con on Sunday when they offered up a surprise screening of the entire first episode of the highly anticipated Jessica Jones series.

It was also confirmed that the new show gives the Marvel Cinematic Universe its first lesbian character – attorney Jeri Hogarth played by Carrie-Anne Moss.

Moss, who probably remains best known for her work in The Matrix films, is playing a gender-swapped version of the male character Jeryn Hogarth from the Marvel comic books.

Hogarth is a high-powered lawyer who hires the titular Jessica (a super-humanly strong private eye) to serve a subpoena to a heavily guarded club owner.

While the women discuss the job during a late-night phone-call, a young woman slinks up behind the glamorous Jeri and begins nuzzling and nibbling her neck.

Just a few scenes later, we find out that this encounter is an affair, and that Jeri’s cheating on her female partner.

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It has also be reported that eponymous hero Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is bisexual or sexually fluid, with hints of a previous relationship with best friend Trish ‘Patsy’ Walker (Rachael Taylor).

Later in the episode, Jessica is in need of cash and, after dark, drops in to see Trish. Neither character says it outright, but the brief interaction heavily implies that they used to be a romantic item.

There’s talk of how Jessica used to discuss her most closely guarded emotional struggles until she pushed Trish away, there’s a palpable and melancholy attraction in their gazes, and there’s a sweet surrender to financial kindness on Trish’s part that is usually reserved for concerned former lovers.

This is seen as a big deal, considering that every Marvel movie thus far has featured a white straight male lead.

To date, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has never shown us openly gay women. Indeed, the only depictions of non-straight characters in Marvel’s shared universe have been a recent episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that reveals a bit player to be gay and a regrettable, Blu-Ray-only short feature that shows Sam Rockwell’s Iron Man 2 villain alluding to having sex in prison.

Unlike those minor beats, Jessica Jones‘s queer relationship scenes are clearly integral to the internal lives of major characters, and are not played for laughs or for shock value. They’re sad, sweet, and subtle.

A Netflix series, of course, is a far leap away from a blockbuster film, but still, progress.

The new show is also raising eyebrows over its frank portrayal of sex in general, especially noting that Marvel TV and movies are generally pretty sexless.

Jessica Jones hits Netflix on Nov. 20.

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