Marvel has introduced its first gay superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe whose sexuality has been confirmed on screen.
Quick 101 in case you don’t already know: Cali native Virginia Gardner is currently the lead in Runaways, a Hulu original series based on a Marvel comic of the same name. She plays Karolina Dean, a lesbian, who is also an alien that can absorb solar energy and glows like a rainbow.
Runaways, which is helmed by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (the duo behind The OC and Gossip Girl), follows a group of teenagers who band together after realising their parents are villains — also, that they themselves have superhero powers.
Karolina got in touch with her sexuality right away in the first episode of the series. While at a party, she spots two women kissing in the crowd. She decides to take off her bracelet, which conceals her alien identity, so she can radiate her rainbow light and dance.
In an interview, 22-year-old Virginia Gardner revealed that she’s actually straight. “One of the first things I wondered was whether people will be offended that I’m straight and playing a gay character. I was really nervous when I got the job because I didn’t want to disappoint fans.”
The starlet continued, “I have a lot of friends who are gay, so I talked to them a lot about how I could do the character justice. Karolina is superhuman, but human, too. Her sexuality was a huge thing for me because I want [to play] characters that I think are going to help people or start a conversation.”
With the full season released on Hulu, Virginia is focused on new projects ahead (including Runaways #2 and the feature film Halloween) but she’s still taking time out to process Karolina’s impact in Season 1.
“The reaction has been super positive and I think that’s largely because for a very long time people from every walk of life have wanted to see people they could identity with on the screen,” she muses. “I’m just happy that I’ve had the opportunity with my role as Karolina to be a voice for the LGBTQ community.”
Here’s another 411: Virginia Gardner did online schooling when she moved to Los Angeles in 2011, but then chose to take the California High School Proficiency Exam when she was allowed to. She took the test in October 2011 and found out she passed the following month.
Ugh, we love this show already! Watch The Runaways to learn more about Karolina and gang on Hulu.