The directors of Captain America: Civil War think it's only a matter of time before Marvel breaks one of the last comic book movie barriers.
While most of Marvel's major cinematic superheroes remain of the white male variety -- from Cap to Iron Man to the Hulk (okay, he's green part of the time), there's no question that the studio has been slowly but steadily making progress in terms of its diversity. They've already launched strong supporting female (Black Widow) and black (Falcon, War Machine) characters, while 2018 and 2019 will introduce movies (Black Panther and Captain Marvel) led by an African man and a woman respectively (DC will beat Marvel to the punch on the latter, however, with Wonder Woman out next year).
But the Marvel Cinematic Universe has yet to even hint at the possibility of developing an LGBT character -- an omission that will only become more glaring as time goes by. Speaking with Collider, Civil War co-director Joe Russo said that he thinks the inclusion of such a character in the MCU is almost inevitable:
“I think the chances are strong. I mean, it’s incumbent upon us as storytellers who are making mass-appeal movies to make mass-appeal movies, and to diversify as much as possible. It’s sad in the way that Hollywood lags behind other industries so significantly, one because you think that it would be a progressive industry, and two it’s such a visible industry. So I think it’s important that on all fronts we keep pushing for diversification because then the storytelling becomes more interesting, more rich, and more truthful.”
As for the risk involved in introducing an LGBT character -- especially for movies that are released globally and in certain countries that don't have the kindest regard for LGBT people or rights -- co-director Anthony Russo said that Marvel is in a position now where it can take such chances:
“I think this is a philosophy of Marvel, in success it becomes easier to take risks. There’s a lot of unconventional ideas in Civil War in terms of what people’s expectations of a superhero movie are, but I think we were able to do that because Winter Soldier worked and Marvel’s been working in general, so there’s more of a boldness in terms of what you can try and where you can go. So I think that’s very hopeful for all of us moving forward that bolder and bolder choices can be made.”
The next obvious question then is: Who? If Marvel does develop an LGBT character for the screen, is it an original creation or do they adapt one from the comics? There have been a number of gay or bisexual characters in the books, the most well-known at the moment perhaps being Hulking and Wiccan, but no one who could realistically lead their own movie at this point. Would Marvel consider bringing someone like Moondragon or Phyla-Vell into the Guardians of the Galaxy series or the Captain Marvel movie, for starters?
It's an interesting problem to solve, but it seems like it should be figured out sooner rather than later. And we're glad to see that the directors who currently hold the keys to some of Marvel's biggest vehicles are on board.