After the fangirl rant last week, I feel compelled to tell you guys that I do not sit down to watch things looking for gay. Many of the standard slash pairings mystify me. Skinner/Muldur in the X-Files? No idea where it comes from. I only vaguely see where they're getting anything involving Krycek. And I watched that show religiously for like the first four or five years.

I wasn't watching Marvel movies looking for it either. I just thought Cap2 was kind of blatant.

They were plainly setting Steve and Peggy up in the first film, and when I found out Black Widow was in the second one, I figured I'd be grinding my teeth for two hours, because as wonderful as Evans and Johansson are in those roles, that is not the kind of chemistry they have together. When the nurse across the hall turned out to be a SHIELD agent, I figured that was Sharon and he'd be orbiting her by the end of the film.

I figured these things, frankly, because they're action movies. Action movies are not known for their stunning plot twists. It would take valuable screen time that could be used for more explosions.

I did go blinky-blinky a bit when Sam was brought in. Drawing from observation of my totally scientific sample of "a bunch of stupidly attractive guys in the local circus guild", dudes who are trying to become ego-buddies will talk about their own muscles, and dudes who are trying to flirt will talk about each other's. (If you have ever wondered what the Sirs chat about when off stage and left to their own devices, they talk about their abs. Sometimes video games. You're welcome.)

The impression is particularly strong here because the idea of an unexpected queer romance fits rather well with the theme of the story. They've chosen to come straight from unfreezing Cap into the Winter Soldier/Civil War arc, which, at a character level, is pretty much all about Steve trying to figure out what the hell he is doing here in the future. He spent the entirety of WWII feeling that he was firmly on the side of the angels, and that he had a solid moral ground for roaming Europe and punching the fuck out of the various grotesqueries manufactured by Nazi R&D. It wasn't pleasant, and he wasn't always that comfortable with being a national symbol, but overall he was doing a job he was proud to have done. Everybody agreed with him on that count, except Hydra, and they're disqualified on the grounds of unmitigated evil.

Now he gets to the 21st century, and while the internet and way kids don't die en masse in polio and measles outbreaks anymore are pretty cool, Steve also finds himself doing a lot of things that never would have crossed his mind before. Beating some of his SHIELD coworkers into a fine paste in the office elevator, for example. Executing a mission with a comrade who didn't mention her completely different objective before they got there. Going on the run from his own government after seeing the Director shot dead in his own personal apartment. Talking to the artificial echo of a Nazi scientist who vivisected his best friend. Walking through a museum exhibit about his own life, trying to judge his own reflection in other people's eyes. In light of how very upside down his life is right now, it would not be all that surprising to find 'suddenly realizes that thing he's been doing with the other dudes is flirting' popping up on the list.

This whole thing is about Cap coming to terms with the fact that this is not the man he thought he was yesterday, and trying to figure out what kind of man he wants to be tomorrow. Perfectly applicable to a lot of stuff.

In my ideal world, the romance would progress strictly through character interaction without any explicit discussion at all, as they did with Steve and Peggy in the first film. I frankly do not think we are at the point where anyone could write a screenplay that involved a presumed-straight superhero protagonist dealing with a homosexual romance without making it into a movie about "queer people talking about being queer and the meaning of queerness, plus something something aliens", rather than a movie about "superheroes kicking massive amounts of ass and saving the world from evil, and also the romance subplot happens to be queer". The first one probably would be a worthwhile and interesting film, but I'd be very angry if they put it out under the title Captain America: Civil War, because sociological interplay like that sucks up a lot of screen time that would more properly be devoted to punching and large explosions.

We don't live in an ideal world, and I am not under the delusion that any of this will actually happen. The execs in charge of the Marvel movies are not that savvy about playing to new demographics. I put the odds at greater than zero but less than one that Evans and Stan are doing it on purpose; if it's crossed either of their minds in so many words, they probably thought it would be a great idea. Stan appears to be bewildered by the way all the machinations in his head seem to come across as 'acting talent', never mind why anyone is paying any attention to it, but I get the impression that Evans is intentionally trying to make his Steve Rogers into an ordinary Everyman whose transformation has made all of his good qualities visible on the outside, and given him the physical might to back up his convictions. When his Cap gets angry, he stops sounding like Captain America: National Icon, and starts sounding like Steve, a big guy from Brooklyn who is not interested in dealing with any more of your shit. Evans is my age, and he's trying for the Everyman of his own generation; whether he's going for 'Steve is okay with flirting with other guys' or 'Steve is not worried that he is doing things that may be construed as flirting with other guys', he's picking up on a big cultural shift in our cohort that playing strictly to the traditional comic book audience of larval-stage Stodgy Old White Guys would not catch.

Hell, I'd be proud of all of them if they got one good kiss take for the gag reel, even if it'll never be in the script. I know the cast is aware of some of the other bits of subtext; one of the Avengers gag reels has a moment where Clark Gregg takes Coulson's fanboy crush on Cap to its logical conclusion, and hooks Evans around the back of the neck to pull him in. They both die laughing before anything happens, but notably, Evans does cooperate.