The internet wants Captain America to get a boyfriend (as evidenced by this hashtag sweeping Twitter). The timing for a new romance seems right for Steve Rogers. When we last saw him, Peggy, the woman he loved and was tragically separated from for decades, had died. As fans calling for Rogers to find the man of his dreams are quick to point out with erotic art, Captain America spent the entirety of Civil War desperately protecting his BFF Bucky with little concern for anything else. But Rogers' obsessive need to keep Bucky safe doesn't mean he wants to make things Facebook official. Captain America isn't the Civil War superhero who should get a boyfriend — Spider-Man is.
Captain America's obvious devotion to Bucky is one of his two defining characteristics (the other is brooding idealism). Those calling for the two to kiss already aren't wrong in their assertion that if Bucky were a female friend, their love for each other would immediately be read by the entire audience, and likely the writers, as romantic. But platonic love can be just as strong as romantic love, and needing to make two best friends romantic partners can appear to invalidate that platonic connection (which is why it was exciting to see that besties Black Widow and Hawkeye won't be making out). But that doesn't mean the superhero universe isn't in desperate need of more LGBT representation.
When Marvel announced it would be rebooting the Spider-Man franchise for the third time in 15 years, critics and fans alike wondered (vocally) what's the point? A hopeful contingent suggested Marvel could bring in much-needed nonwhite heroes by casting an actor of color. When a third white actor was selected, the one added wrinkle to the character seemed to be how incredibly young 19-year-old Tom Holland reads on screen. There is an opportunity here to connect with kids who rarely see themselves in their superhero idols — by giving Holland's Peter Parker a boyfriend.
Of course, the options for LGBT representation in the Marvel universe don't end with Spider-Man or Captain America.
The previous two Spider-Man franchises are rooted in through lines — Parker lives with his aunt May and turns to a life of crime-fighting after a spider bite and the death of his uncle Ben. But each Parker has a different love interest, with Tobey Maguire getting Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) and Andrew Garfield getting Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Yes, both these female characters are featured in the comics, but a large number of moviegoers are not comic-book devotees, and simply accepted that a teenager is going to have more than one relationship over the course of his adolescence. So what's to stop Marvel from introducing John Michael (keeping the double first names for continuity), an independent guy with his own passions who also needs to be saved a lot by his beloved Spidey?
Of course, the options for LGBT representation in the Marvel universe don't end with Spider-Man or Captain America. Black Widow's love interest seems to have disappeared; she could meet and gaze lovingly at a women who shares her affection for impressive acrobatics done in a very tight suit. Tony could discover in Pepper's absence that he feels drawn to a man who appreciates his banter and his rapidly shifting worldviews. In the next decade, legions of new Marvel movies will be released. Between all the fight scenes, romances of varying depths will be introduced. There's no reason all that romance can't include some same-sex couples.