In a move more placating than progressive, Marvel studios has proudly touted the inclusion of a gay bit character as the first out-queer role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Avengers: Endgame features the bit part, played by the film’s co-director Joe Russo. In the background of one scene, a man is heard mourning the loss of a lover using male pronouns.
“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.” Apparently, Russo and Marvel Studios think tossing scraps to a still-underrepresented demographic somehow counts as inclusion. By that reasoning, the studio had no need to make Black Panther or Captain Marvel since women and people of color appear as background extras in other films.
Marvel has come under increased criticism for not including LGBTQ roles in their films. Bisexual actress Tessa Thompson criticized Marvel for cutting a scene from Thor: Ragnarok that would have made her character Valkarye explicitly queer. Recently, studio President Kevin Feige said that the forthcoming movie version of The Eternals would feature an out-gay superhero. Several out-gay actors, including Wilson Cruz, Brian Jordan Alvarez and Conrad Ricamora have tested for the role.
Given Marvel & Russo’s attitude, we’ll believe it when it happens. In the meantime, don’t expect us to get excited about this tiny morsel of representation.