Overwatch debuts Soldier 76 as its newest queer hero

Posted on January 8, 2019

Blizzard has quietly revealed the sexuality of one of its playable characters in a new Overwatch comic. In the short story Bastet, by Michael Chu, Jack (better known as Soldier 76) is going over some old photos, one of which shows him with his arm around the shoulder of another man named Vincent.

Talking with fellow hero Ana, he expresses regret that he couldn’t give Vincent the life he wanted, and that he has since moved on and married someone else. Whilst it isn’t made super explicit in the text itself, the author has since clarified beyond doubt that Soldier 76 and Vincent were in a relationship and identify as gay.

This makes Soldier 76 the second of Overwatch’s playable cast to be identified as being LGBT. In 2016, the Overwatch holiday comic Reflections, which showed Tracer buying a present for her partner, who happens to be a woman named Emily.

However, looking closely at one of the later panels of the Reflections comic, you can see Soldier 76 looking at the same photograph of Vincent, suggesting that this particular revelation was set up quite some time ago.

Soldier 76

Overwatch is primarily a multiplayer shooter, with most of the world-building found in expanded universe comics and short stories like this one. However, adding in these small characterisation details makes them much more relatable for the players. It’s excellent to see Blizzard representing the LGBT community with its characters.

Canonising one of the most commonly used heroes as gay is an excellent demonstration of acknowledgement of the LGBT fans of Overwatch. Bonus points for communicating it in  a subtle, character-driven exchange, that feels natural for the stoic Soldier 76 without it coming across as forced or pandering to the queer community.

Soldier 76

Michael Chu, who is also the Overwatch lead writer, has stated in the past that “multiple” heroes in Overwatch are LGBT, saying that “it’s very important for us to have diversity and inclusiveness of all types, and that includes LGBT characters. There are definitely LGBT heroes [in Overwatch] — that’s multiple heroes.”

As such, it is entirely possible that there are other LGBT heroes whose sexualities haven’t been revealed yet. Overall, this is nice news for the queer community to see themselves represented in a major AAA game, as well as some interesting background details of one of Overwatch’s more mysterious heroes.