The push for diversity and representation in movies is going to have an effect on Warner Bros.’ Birds of Prey movie. A gay character will not only figure in prominently but a decades-old, well-known one is being revamped for that purpose.
According to We Got This Covered, Black Mask as portrayed by Ewan McGregor is written to be a homosexual. The rub is it won’t be so overt. Instead, Mask’s sexuality is implied by his demeanor and the way he interacts with Zsasz (Chris Messina), which hints at the latter’s orientation as well.
Over at Marvel, Avengers: Endgame introduced their cinematic universe’s first gay character. However, many were shocked to find it was in a small cameo (a man in Steve Rogers’ support group). That person and all the women were edited out in a cut by a disgruntled viewer.
Black Mask’s reinterpretation will undoubtedly meet with a similarly mixed reaction. Those calling for a gay character in the DC Extended Universe might like it. Others are likely to fume over what a departure it is from the comics.
Created by Doug Moench and Tom Mandrake, Black Mask made his debut in issue #386 of Batman back in 1985. His real name is Roman Sionis — a troubled child of Gotham elites and the entitled heir to a cosmetics fortune. Turning to murder to inherit his family’s company, Janus, he drove it to the brink of bankruptcy. A life of crime followed and so did a confrontation with Batman, whose true identity Roman always despised.
His motives were tied to a female love interest, a model named Circe. The two were engaged but Roman was forced to break it off, which pushed him over the edge. After crafting and donning his eponymous disguise, he caught up to Circe and applied his toxic make-up concoction to her face, disfiguring her.
A possibility for this reimagining opens up, in a way. Throughout his existence, Roman has tortured plenty of women, including Selina Kyle. Given that, he’s not the type of guy a girl would want to bring home to her parents, so it’s easy to consider him kryptonite to the opposite sex.
Ewan McGregor is not new to LGBTQ roles. He played bisexual rock star Curt Wild in the indie glam-rock drama Velvet Goldmine. In a flashback, Wild has an intimate encounter with fan and reporter Arthur Stuart (who, ironically, was played by Christian Bale).
Directed by Cathy Yan, Birds of Prey stars McGregor, Margot Robbie, Rosie Perez, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Written by Christina Hodson (Bumblebee), it will be out on February 7, 2020. It will be the first major superhero movie to feature a gay character in a lead role.