The day before “Avengers: Endgame” opened in U.S. theaters, Deadline published a spoiler interview with co-director Joe Russo in which it was revealed the Marvel blockbuster included the first openly gay moment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Russo cast himself as an unnamed character who appears in a group therapy session led by Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers/Captain America. Russo’s character talks about losing his male partner because of Thanos’ snap.
“Representation is really important,” Joe Russo said about the moment. “It was important to us as we did four of these films, we wanted a gay character somewhere in them. We felt it was important that one of us play him, to ensure the integrity and show it is so important to the filmmakers that one of us is representing that. It is a perfect time, because one of the things that is compelling about the Marvel Universe moving forward is its focus on diversity.”
While Russo’s intentions were positive, the moment was met with widespread backlash across the internet as many fans took issue with the Marvel Cinematic Universe for portaying its first gay character in such a blink-or-miss-him and ineffective way. Russo’s character appears for only 10 seconds of the film’s three-hour runtime and has no importance to the main narrative. The character’s inclusion struck many as pandering considering the MCU has yet to feature a gay superhero or even a gay supporting character over the last 11 years.
Speaking to i09 ahead of the release of “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige said the “Endgame” moment became way more of a talking point than originally intended. The moment was designed not for the MCU to brag about including its first gay character but simply to exist as an average moment in the film.
“That was never meant to be our first focused character,” Feige said. “That was just meant to be a matter of fact and a matter of life and a matter of truth. And I liked it that our hero, Steve Rogers, doesn’t blink an eye at that fact. It is just truth and is heartbreaking for his loss and for the life he’s trying to put back together. It was never meant to be looked at as our first hero. I guess it’s the first reference so it does, of course, get a lot of attention.”
Feige promised more significant LGBTQ representation will be coming to the MCU in the next phase of movies. Rumor has it the upcoming tentpole “The Eternals” will include Marvel’s first openly gay superhero, but the studio has yet to confirm these details.
“We haven’t been shy about saying that that’s coming and that there’s much more prominent LGBT heroes in the future,” Feige said. “[It’s] coming soon.”
The next MCU entry, “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” opens nationwide July 2.