I’m not saying Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’s campaign was made better because I ship John ‘Soap’ Mactavish with Simon ‘Ghost’ Riley, but this unexpected headcanon definitely helped. I’m not alone either, given the internet is now awash with cute fanart and theories around the couple who not only commit war crimes, but do so with their hubby supporting them every step of the way. We love to see it, and these boys are dreamy.
Fans are already embroiled in debates over Ghost being a sexualised softboi, but that’s precisely the identity he adopts whenever he’s in conversation with his comrade. Soap is still wet behind the ears, and depends on Ghost to guide him during tough situations that could mean life or death if he steps a foot wrong. His partner is tough yet genuine, often hiding his admiration behind playful jokes and insults in spite of how he really feels. That’s the conclusion my twisted mind came to after finishing the campaign anyway, because there are too many romantic tropes being alluded to amidst dialogue that is dripping with queer subtext to ignore. Ghost is the only one allowed to call Soap Johnny, because they’re boyfriends.
While the campaign teases us with brief exchanges between the two hunks throughout, it isn’t until the final act that things really start heating up. Alone is when it all starts to go wrong for our heroes. Commander Shepherd has left them for dead amidst a controversial cover-up, while their former allies in Shadow Company are now hunting them down across the small town streets of Mexico. Soap is badly injured and unarmed, nothing but his own intuition and Ghost’s sultry tones to keep him alive. Call of Duty has always been one for excessive bravado and overzealous masculinity, and that remains here, but there’s an aura of subversive vulnerability on display throughout this mission that has hardened friends becoming something more when the possibility of not making it out alive begins to surface.
Ghost makes light-hearted japes while dealing out advice, reassuring his love that it will all be okay so long as he keeps on moving. The truth is that both of them are moments away from death, knowing the impossibility of getting away as a genocide unfolds around them. It’s messed up, but I felt a sense of warmth as these two grew closer and teased their history together before the book closed for good. Through sheer perseverance and the promise of seeing each other again, we make it out alive in a hail of gunfire. As they jump into a pick-up truck and drive away, Ghost praises Johnny for making it out unscathed. Soap turns to him with a tilt of the head and a smirk, only to correct him by saying they both made it. They are in love and I will accept no other explanation.
Their relationship is only further cemented in the missions that follow, with the two proving almost inseparable after escaping the clutches of death. It becomes clear they have cute nicknames for one another that spawned after years of fighting side-by-side, and aren’t afraid to make inside jokes in spite of the trauma that brought them together in the first place. You can shake your head and claim it’s simply a case of guys being dudes, but I’m the sort of trash weasel who will ship anyone if the potential is there, and Modern Warfare 2 offers it up in spades. If anything I’d say there’s founded ground to speculate on a romantic connection between the two, and one that would actually fit nicely in the narrative if it became reality.
Call of Duty is the manliest of manly games, so suddenly having my interest piqued through queer shipping of all things was an unexpected delight. Soap and Ghost are perfect for each other in ways that certain fans have somehow gravitated towards, whether that be through risqué fan art or wholesome observations away from the grim nature of war.
I’m probably one of the few people in existence who plays this series for the solo campaigns and actively enjoys the blockbuster storytelling, so having it suddenly adopt a fruity angle only makes it that much better.
Laswell is also a lesbian, with her wife being brought up in an optional piece of dialogue, so I’d love to think that Task Force 141 is actually a big group of LGBTQ+ legends fighting to save the world from nuclear annihilation, with Ghost and Soap at the helm as buff gay himbos unafraid of what people think of their love. Here’s hoping Modern Warfare 3 has the pairing share a big ol’ smooch before throwing a knife into
Makarov’s face. Oh, and Ghost is totally a power bottom.
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