Ironheart’s Zoe Terakes, the first trans actor to play a major role in an MCU project, shares what it means to them to join Marvel’s big leagues.
Zoe Terakes, who will play an unknown role in the upcoming Disney+ series Ironheart, revealed how they feel about being the first trans actor to appear in a major role in a Marvel Cinematic Universe project.
Speaking to Collider, the Australian actor shared how important trans representation is to them, especially in Ironheart‘s genre. “I think as trans people, growing up I didn’t get to see myself anywhere, so I didn’t really know that I existed,” they said. “And especially not in a superhero show or movie. And so I think I just feel deeply grateful and moved that little trans kids and trans teens have something to look at and to know they exist and to know that they can have superpowers, and that that’s where we belong.” Nothing is currently known about Terakes’ character on the series, including whether they play someone with powers.
Terakes also pointed out that trans stories in media are often relegated to more serious works and excluded from happier narratives and more lighthearted fare, as superhero movies and shows tend to be. “We don’t just belong in trauma stories on the fringes dying in things, you know? We belong there with the big guys,” the actor said. “So yeah, it meant a lot to me.”
Queer Representation in the MCU
Terakes isn’t the first openly trans actor in the MCU, as two trans actors appeared in 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home — Zach Barack, who played one of Peter Parker’s fellow students, and Tyler Luke Cunningham, who was a featured extra. Meanwhile, Jessica Jones, not technically part of the MCU, featured a trans character played by trans actor Aneesh Sheth in its third season.
Terakes’ appearance in Ironheart follows several other milestones that Marvel has made in LGBTQ+ representation in the past year. While some fans were disappointed with how Thor: Love and Thunder delivered on its promise to establish Valkyrie as bisexual, many were pleasantly surprised when Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness stayed true to the comics and clearly depicted America Chavez having two moms. Kevin Feige said, “that aspect of America’s character is from the comics, so we always want to adapt them as well and as truthfully as we can.” 2021’s Eternals also featured Marvel’s first same-sex couple in Phastos and his husband.
While their characters (and their respective gender identities) are still secret, Terakes will also be joined in Ironheart by RuPaul’s Drag Race star Shea Couleé. Couleé’s role may be easier to guess than others, as she was apparently one of the inspirations and the photo reference for Marvel Comics character Shade. Starring on the series will be Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams/Ironheart, Anthony Ramos as Parker Robbins/The Hood, and a supporting cast that includes Manny Montana, Alden Ehrenreich, Lyric Ross, Harper Anthony, Cree Summer, Regan Aliyah, Shakira Barrera, Rashida “Sheedz” Olayiwola, Sonia Denis and Paul Calderón.
Ironheart is expected to premiere on Disney+ in late 2023.
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