Extremely frank Reaper/Gabriel Reyes discussion and analysis follows:
I mean this in the politest yet bluntest way possible:
Gabriel Reyes/Reaper is hardcoded mlm.
I’m going to level with y’all
Gabriel/Reaper is legitimately one of the strongest mlm-coded characters in current media.
And before people go, “You’re biased, you’re pulling this out your ass,” Gabriel/Reaper is basically a “mlm character designed and written by straight men (mostly).” I’m actually willing to believe that Blizzard has semi-decent intentions with him at this point, but from the outset, Gabriel/Reaper’s design is so blatantly “we aren’t entirely sure how to design/write a mlm character so we’re gonna kinda throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.”
I am not saying all mlm individuals in real life behave like this or do these things.
Rather, I am saying that these are mlm stereotypes perpetuated in the media that artists, designers, and writers at Blizzard have seemingly applied to Gabriel Reyes/Reaper.
Here’s the “we took every major mlm stereotype and built it into Gabriel Reyes/Reaper’s character” list:
- Talking with a slight lisp
- Incessantly sassy, sarcastic, and sardonic
- Wearing jewelry (Reaper canonically wears a silver bangle on one wrist, seemingly only for aesthetic purposes)
- being dedicated to “an aesthetic” - single major color palette, with “pop” accent colors like red and silver
- Dropping pop culture and music references nonstop
- wearing heels
- Wearing skintight clothing
- His entire “we’re vaguing this” relationship with Jack Morrison/Soldier: 76
- The fact that zero female characters in the game hit on him (as opposed to Soldier: 76 and Reinhardt, where Ana compliments the former and straight up flirts with the latter)
- Quoting Edgar Allan Poe
- frankly, literally dressing himself as the deadass “opposite” of Strike-Commander Morrison (while Soldier: 76 basically dresses “the opposite” of Commander Reyes).
- He makes his own Halloween costumes
- the implication that the only people allowed to call him by a nickname (Gabe) are Jack Morrison/Soldier: 76 and (rather reluctantly) Sombra
- Death Blossom - although the Ultimate title is a reference to The Last Starfighter, Chu has joked that it’s related to Gabriel/Reaper hurling roses at Jack/Soldier: 76. When someone on twitter make a photoshop of Reaper attacking Soldier: 76 with a bouquet of roses on Valentine’s Day, Michael Chu joked, “Well, it is called Death Blossom.”
- Having a paired spray with another man (Jack Morrison/Soldier: 76) - the Commando “Contra references” sprays
- Continuing to call Soldier: 76 “Jack” despite 1) “hating him” (or so we are told), 2) Soldier: 76 trying to obscure his name, 3) Soldier: 76 technically having been “Strike-Commander Morrison” to Gabriel Reyes/Reaper for decades says a lot about Gabriel/Reaper’s attitude towards Jack/Soldier: 76. Despite having a major fall out and literally fighting each other, Gabriel/Reaper persists in calling “John Morrison” by a personal nickname.
- If “This is my curse” is, in fact, a Killswitch reference - holy hell, y’all. Holy. Hell. “This is my curse/ The yearning/ This is my curse/ There is love/ Burning to find you/ Will you wait for me?/ Will you desire?/ Your silence haunts me/ But still I hunger for you.”
There is no “cute flirtatious banter” between him and any female/feminine character in the game. By this, I mean interactions that are comparable to, say, the McCree-Hanzo “this is thirsty work” lines or the Pharah-Mercy “Let’s keep the skies clear” lines or even the Ana-Reinhardt “and you look as lovely as ever” lines. In fact, arguably, the only lines where Gabriel/Reaper actually has “cute flirtatious banter” are with Jack/Soldier: 76.
Soldier: 76: Well. You sure take to this bad guy thing easily, don’t ya? (said with laughter)
Reaper: And you sure know how to play boy scout. (said in a teasing tone)
Soldier: 76: One of these days someone is gonna to put an end to you.
Reaper: I invite them to try.
The latter is seemingly the reason why Soldier: 76 will sometimes say “Well, someone had to do it.” when killing an enemy Reaper.
(Meanwhile, on Soldier’s end, he either is entirely oblivious to Ana’s compliment on him “looking pretty good,” or he straight up ignores it.)
Once again, I am not saying all mlm individuals in real life behave like this or do these things.
What I am saying is that these are, by and large, stereotypes of mlm individuals portrayed/perpetuated by media that Gabriel Reyes/Reaper exhibits. And while I think many of them are more entertaining or better-portrayed than many other mlm characters in media, we should keep in mind that these all snowball into something much bigger. Something that Blizzard has only seemed to fuel with the Uprising content. Whether or not they ever actually act upon it in a direct or outright manner is debatable, but regardless, here is what is currently present in the game, comics, and animations. Furthermore, Chu has recently retweeted “familial Strike team content” from a major fandom artist who has posted and continues to post Reaper76 content. The official Overwatch twitter retweeted content from a different major fandom artist who posts Reaper76 content almost exclusively (though the retweet was of Blackwatch content). Even if the content itself does not directly show Gabriel Reyes/Reaper engaging in romantic interactions with another man (Jack Morrison/Soldier: 76, in these cases), it DOES mean both Chu and someone on the Overwatch social media team are watching these artist accounts.
But yeah, sure.
It’s all “subtext.”
(that’s sarcasm, btw. Because some readers will take that literally.)