We have finally arrived at the moment MCU fans have been waiting a year to see. Avengers: Endgame will blast into theaters across the U.S. Thursday night, and fans will be seeing it as many times as possible throughout the weekend, while picking over every moment in its three-hour runtime when they're not in the theater. As you might imagine, a lot happens in this massive movie, but one very small moment might turn out to be one of the most memorable, thanks to directors Joe and Anthony Russo's decision to inject more diversity into their story.
**Warning: Minor spoilers for Avengers: Endgame are below.**
As the film's trailers have hinted, Endgame does give us a look at what life on Earth is like in the wake of the Decimation, as the survivors try to carry on with life after Thanos wiped out half of all living creatures. As you might imagine, it's not easy, and that means various emotional support groups have been established to help people try and move on.
One of these meetings, in New York City, is attended by none other than Captain America (Chris Evans), and in one scene in the film, he's listening to the men in the group tell their stories. At this point, one survivor begins talking about recently going out on a date for the first time since Thanos' snap.
What makes this important for the MCU is that this man, played by Joe Russo (who is uncredited in the film), is talking about going out on a date with another man. This makes him the first openly gay character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, something the Russo brothers had planned to work in at some point in their Marvel tenure.
“Representation is really important,” Joe Russo told Deadline. “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.”
Fans of the MCU have long been reading LGBTQ subtext into various major characters, including Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes, and Tessa Thompson has encouraged the interpretation of her character, Valkyrie, as bisexual. Despite this, nothing has ever been overtly depicted in the films, despite promises from Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige that more diversity is coming. Now the first step has been taken, and for the Russo brothers, it was important that they do it in a way that reflects the everyday lives of people all over the planet.
“We wanted it to be casual, with the fact that the character is gay tied into the fabric of the storytelling and representing what everyday life is,” Joe Russo said. “We’re trying to represent everyone in everyday life. These are global movies that reach a lot of people. They are important to a lot of people, and everyone has the right to see themselves on the screen and identify somewhere.”
The addition of this extra piece of meaningful context to the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe might be among the last we ever see from the Russos, at least for a while. The duo teased last year that they would be taking a break from superhero films after Endgame, and in a new interview with GamesRadar, they doubled down on that promise.
“It’s our Endgame, at least for now,” Anthony Russo said. “We don’t have any plans for now to make any more Marvel movies. It certainly may come up in the future at some point. We have a wonderful working relationship with [Marvel Studios] and a great passion for what they’re doing.”
So, the first openly gay character has finally been introduced in a Marvel Studios film, and it's in the biggest film this particular universe has ever delivered. Now the question is, when will we see the first openly gay superhero?
Avengers: Endgame begins screening tonight.