The mobile version of DC Comics’ fighting game Injustice 2 found itself in hot water earlier today after announcing an in-game challenge meant to celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month. The problem was that the event tasked players with beating the shit out of Poison Ivy, a canonically bisexual character, hundreds of thousands of times. A strange way to celebrate!
“That’s fucking hilariously tone deaf,” wrote one ResetEra user in response to a promotional tweet, which has since been removed.
“At least they got the rainbow profile pic,” wrote another, pointing out the hypocrisy that corporations employ every June to appear progressive on LGBTQ+ issues by simply adding rainbows to their logos.
“Ah, the beloved pride celebration of repeatedly punching a barely clothed bi woman in the face,” wrote a third.
Warner Bros. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Injustice 2 Mobile regularly runs these kinds of challenges to drive players back to the app, asking them to complete certain goals or collectively reach milestones to earn in-game rewards. The game’s Pride Month celebrations are two-fold: a free gift with a chance of unlocking Batwoman (who, in the comics, is often portrayed as a lesbian) and the aforementioned Poison Ivy challenge, depicted in the screenshot above.
Poison Ivy has had a long string of lovers since being introduced to the pages of DC Comics in 1966. While her previous partners include both men and women, Poison Ivy’s relationship with Harley Quinn has in modern times become her most common romantic pairing. The two were most recently depicted as an item in the Harley Quinn animated series currently airing on HBO Max.
It’s not like I don’t see where Injustice 2 Mobile was going with this. You take down Poison Ivy, you get some Harley Quinn tokens as a subtle nod to their relationship, and everyone can feel good about giving the gays some attention for the next few weeks. But why did a bisexual icon have to be on the receiving end of the violence? And during a Pride Month celebration, of all things? Maybe the challenge could have been to win matches as Poison Ivy to unlock the rewards? I’m not a developer by any stretch of the imagination, but it couldn’t have been any harder to design than what was ultimately programmed into the game for this event.
As of this afternoon, Injustice 2 Mobile players were still 225,000 beatdowns away from reaching the Poison Ivy challenge’s first milestone.
Update (06/03/2021, 11:06 p.m. ET): The official Injustice 2 Mobile account on Twitter has released a statement apologizing for the situation.