Marvel’s New Show Is Aimed At Little Trans Kids

Marvel's upcoming Ironheart series has cast Zoe Terakes, a non-binary trans actor.

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

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The upcoming Marvel Disney+ series Ironheart is going to follow in the shoes of its fellow Champions series Ms. Marvel by breaking barriers for the 15-year old superhero franchise. Zoe Terakes, a young actor that has previously been in Australian series Wentworth and A24’s horror film Talk to Me, has joined the cast of the Black Panther 2 spin-off. That in itself isn’t boundary breaking, except as reported by Bounding into Comics, Terakes is both non-binary and trans, making their inclusion the first of each for the MCU.

Since Marvel properties have been produced in vast quantities for 15 years now, it’s a little surprising that Terakes is the first non-binary actor to have a role in the franchise. Even when it comes to including a trans actor, Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy beat Disney by featuring Elliot Page, who was part of Fox’s X-Men franchise. What excites the newest member of the Ironheart cast is that they get to help be a model for others.

In an interview, Zoe Terakes admitted that they were excited to be part of a Marvel property because “I think as trans people, growing up I didn’t get to see myself anywhere, so I didn’t really know that I existed, 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.”

Inclusion is important in media and plenty of studies have shown that representation matters from including actors of different races, genders, orientations, religions, and even political preferences can make a huge difference to the public. Marvel has been getting better at diversifying their cast with some great results, such as re-purposing Namor to be Mayan, and some less than stellar results such as deciding Taika Waititi‘s Korg, an alien rock man, would be gay after cutting scenes with Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie as a bisexual woman.

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Dominique Thorn as Riri Williams in the Ironheart armor

Terakes adds, regarding non-binary and trans performers, “We don’t just belong in trauma stories on the fringes dying in things, you know?” Which is true, as no one deserves being relegated like that, but whether or not an on-screen character is viewed as a positive or negative tends to come down to the quality of the writing. Marvel’s Ironheart will have to prove itself in that regard, as it could be a positive for inclusion like The Last of Us or a negative if it follows the footsteps of HBO’s Velma.

Ironheart stars Dominque Thorne as Riri Williams, continuing the role from Black Panther 2, while Anthony Ramos is Parker Robbins, known to Marvel comic fans as the mystical villain The Hood. Jim Rash, Lyric Hood, Harper Anthony, Manny Montana, Alden Ehreneich, and Zoe Terakes round out the supporting cast in mostly undisclosed roles, Rash is the Dean of MIT while Hood is playing Williams best friend.

Whether or not Ironheart builds on the recent Marvel successes of Black Panther 2 and the Guardians of the Galaxy Christmas Special remains to be seen, but two more barriers have been struck down in one of the largest franchises on the planet. What comes next is even more important and that is sticking the landing with a great story that moves along Phase 5 of the MCU and makes fans excited to catch new episodes each week. After all, representation matters, but combined with an amazing story it’s like using a grass-type Pokemon against a water-type: super effective.