By Joe Glass
Anyone following me on twitter knows I'm mildly obsessed with mobile game MARVEL's Avengers Academy.
The game, from TinyCo, re-imagines a wide variety of Avengers and Marvel characters as high schoolers, training in their powers and becoming true superheroes under Nick Fury. The game essentially allows players to recruit characters, send them on tasks to gain XP and currency, and improve the characters and Academy itself.
It's incredibly addictive.
The game has also in its time featured a number of limited time events. At the moment, it is running a mini-event which it is calling the British Invasion. During this event, Black Knight has been driven mad by the Ebony Blades curse, and the Avengers must free British superheroes Captain Britain and Union Jack to help combat him and cure him (and thus also recruit Black Knight too).
And what has been rather wonderful, especially with this event falling on Pride Month, is that Union Jack has carried over an element of the character from the comics that is maybe unexpected: the character is gay.
In the comics, the second Union Jack, Brian Falsworth, was gay (he was also for a time using the superhero alias of The Destroyer). It would seem that this element has also made it over into the game as well.
After a story quest, Black Widow thanks Union Jack for being the first man at the academy who hasn't come onto her. Jack points out she isn't his type, and Black Widow fears this means he likes the shallow Enchantress. Instead, Union Jack simply states "I'm telling you I'm gay."
The game handles the coming out in a straight-forward manner, and it is handled very well indeed, with characters being accepting and positive. It's also not something that comes and just goes away either, as it is also suggested that Union Jack has a crush on school mischief-maker, Loki.
What's also very nice to see is Union Jack is presented as being really quite a cool guy. A bit of a James Bond-type, he comes across as strong, capable and very, very cool.
Union Jack is the first, but hopefully not the only/last LGBTQ character to be added to the game (at least openly and in continuity of the game universe). Further into the British Invasion event, there is a suggestion that long sought after Hawkeye may be coming soon to the game, and he even makes a comment about having to find a new Hawkeye to train to protect his neighbourhood. So it's possible we may get two Hawkeyes, with Kate Bishop too. Could this mean we also get some other Young Avengers included? Like maybe Ms America, Wiccan and/or Hulkling?
This remains to be seen, but I personally commend TinyCo and Marvel games for including a queer character openly in the game. I've already mentioned how such a small thing can feel huge with the importance of representation. Hopefully this can continue in the future.
Joe Glass is a Bleeding Cool contributor and the writer/creator of LGBTQ superhero team series, The Pride. The Pride is available here and also on Comixology. He is also a co-writer on Welsh horror comedy series, Stiffs, which also includes a gay character because representation can occur in any book, any genre, at any time. Stiffs is available here and on Comixology too.