As Avengers: Endgame continues its world-conquering run at the box office, one particular scene is attracting some attention for introducing the franchise’s first openly gay character. And while some fans are pleased to see the MCU finally take this first step in LGBTQ representation, others were left feeling pretty underwhelmed.
The character in question features in a scene where Steve Rogers leads a post-snap support group. One of the attendees, played by Endgame co-director Joe Russo, mentions that he went on his first date since the events of Avengers: Infinity War, using the “he” pronoun to refer to his partner. In that moment, Endgame becomes the first Marvel movie to acknowledge that gay people exist in the cinematic universe. The problem is that this first example of an LGBTQ character is almost completely inconsequential, getting only one scene, a few lines and no name.
Though some will argue that this one minor character is better than nothing, his inclusion also feels like too small of a baby step to seem especially brave or groundbreaking in 2019. And the fact that Joe Russo emphasized this moment by playing the character himself has struck some fans as unduly self-congratulatory, not least when Marvel TV shows like Jessica Jones, Runaways and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have already introduced multiple queer characters with far more prominent roles.
In any case, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has repeatedly hinted that a greater level of LGBTQ representation is coming to the MCU, and just last month, executive vice president of production Victoria Alonso claimed that “the world is ready” for the franchise’s first gay superhero. Clearly, Avengers: Endgame wasn’t considered the right film to follow through on this tease, though if recent reports are anything to go by, then perhaps Russo’s unnamed character could be considered a stepping stone for what’s to come in The Eternals.