Is Guardians of the Galaxy’s Moondragon’s Greatest Ability To…Unlock Queerness?

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Heather Douglas, aka Moondragon, is known for her formidable psychic powers and expert martial arts skills. These abilities make her a valuable member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. But before she joined this superhero team, she displayed another ability that changed the lives of people around her. As a confident queer woman, Moondragon was the object of attraction for some of her friends and teammates. In certain cases, their attraction to Moondragon helped them acknowledge and embrace their own queerness. This happened with two different characters: a genderfluid cosmic being named Cloud, and a bisexual woman named Marlo Chandler.

Cloud was a sentient nebula who came to Earth and lost their memory. After Cloud was manipulated by the Secret Empire, Moondragon and the other Defenders took pity on them and allowed them refuge. Cloud soon became an active member of the Defenders, as their ability to transform into a gaseous “cloud” form and electrify people with lightning was useful in combat.

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When the Defenders first met Cloud, their human form was that of a young blonde woman. However, as Cloud began developing feelings for Moondragon, they began to feel that their female form was not adequate to express who they truly were. In Defenders #136, by Peter B. Gillis and Don Perlin, Cloud manifested a new human form, that of a young blond man, and confessed their feelings to Moondragon. However, Moondragon did not feel the same way.

Because of Moondragon’s villainous past, she was forced to wear a headband that inhibited her psychic powers. She often implored her teammates to remove it so she could access her full powers again, but they ignored her pleas because they did not trust her. In a desperate attempt to regain access to her powers, Moondragon used her weak telepathy to try to make the male members of the Defenders fall in love with her. She hoped that if she could manipulate one of them into falling in love with her, then that person might remove her headband and she would regain her full powers.

When Moondragon found out about Cloud’s attraction to her, she was distraught. Though she had no problem with Cloud’s genderfluidity, she worried that her telepathic attempts to manipulate men had snared Cloud by accident, causing them to believe they were in love with Moondragon. Cloud insisted that their feelings were genuine, but Moondragon rejected their advances. Still, the two remained friends, and Cloud even helped Moondragon make a new costume for herself.

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Cloud’s decision to begin presenting as male as well as female was not solely because they wanted to capture Moondragon’s affections. However, it was their love for Moondragon that made them question their identity and realize that they were genderfluid. Throughout the rest of Defenders, they would switch between their male and female forms as they pleased, and they were overall met with acceptance from their other team members.

Years after the Defenders team had broken up, Moondragon encountered Genis-Vell, the new Captain Marvel. She tried to teach him how to hone and master his newfound cosmic awareness, as these powers had the potential to literally drive him insane. During this same time, Marlo Chandler was going through a rough patch with her marriage to Rick Jones, the man who was bonded to Genis-Vell by the Nega-Bands. Moondragon moved in with Marlo, hoping to help her control the reality-warping power she had developed after being possessed by Death, and they soon became friends.

In Captain Marvel #32, by Peter David and Jim Calafiore, Marlo and Moondragon shared a spontaneous kiss, which shocked them both. At first, Marlo denied that anything had happened between them and tried to rekindle her relationship with Rick. But when Rick found out about the kiss, Marlo couldn’t keep pretending as though nothing had happened. Although she loved Rick, she admitted that she wanted to explore her feelings for Moondragon, who felt the same way about her. Rick was unhappy to hear this, but respected Marlo’s choice to be with Moondragon instead of with him.

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Though she deeply cared about Moondragon, Marlo realized that she wanted to get back together with Rick when he broadcasted a recording of himself singing a song about her throughout the whole universe. She was touched by this display of his love for her and realized that she still had feelings for him. Even though it meant losing the woman she loved, Moondragon encouraged Marlo to heed her feelings and reconcile with Rick. Marlo and Rick were very happy together, and Moondragon started a relationship with Phyla-Vell, Genis-Vell’s sister.

Marlo’s relationship with Moondragon helped her realize that when it came to romance, gender wasn’t an important factor for her. She could fall in love with both men and women. Although she eventually left Moondragon and went back to her husband, that didn’t make her bisexuality any less a part of her. Marlo’s experiences with Moondragon allowed her to understand herself better and accept her queerness instead of suppressing it.

Moondragon and Phyla are happily married now, working with their Guardians of the Galaxy teammates, several of whom are also queer. Moondragon has changed lives on a large scale by protecting against galactic-level threats, but she has also changed lives on a smaller scale, by helping her friends realize and embrace their queerness.

KEEP READING: Who Is the Most Powerful Guardian of the Galaxy – and Why? 

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