‘Avengers: Endgame’: Why Having a Gay Character Is So Important in the MCU

If you’ve seen Avengers: Endgame, you might have spotted a small cameo by one of the film’s directors that, despite being brief, really means a great deal about representation. In 22 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Endgame is the first to feature an openly gay character.

Los Angeles World Premiere Of Marvel Studios' "Avengers: Endgame"
Los Angeles World Premiere of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

Why ‘representation matters’

One of Avengers: Endgame’s directors, Joe Russo, appears (uncredited) in the film as a gay man, attending a support group meeting for those who lost loved ones following Thanos’ snap at the end of Avengers: Infinity War.

It’s a brief cameo, but the inclusion of this character is significant and points to what’s to come in the MCU.

Joe told Deadline: “Representation is really important. It was important to us as we did four of these films, we wanted a gay character somewhere in them.”

He added: “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.”

Will a gay Marvel superhero hit the big screen?

Rumors have been swirling that Marvel Studios may be casting its first openly LGBTQ superhero for The Eternals, but that has not yet been confirmed.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige teased that an LGBTQ superhero is coming to the MCU, sharing with The Playlist that this representation would include characters “both you’ve seen and ones you haven’t seen.”

Why the cameo mattered to the Russo brothers

Joe further explained why the filmmakers were intent on including this small cameo, telling Deadline: “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.”

He added: “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.”

His brother, Anthony Russo, added that this representation makes sense in the wake of Thanos’ destruction wiping out all kinds of people, sharing: “When you have a story point that includes killing half of all humans on Earth, you’re telling a bigger story than the Avengers. So that scene was important to us in telling the story of the larger world.”

He added: “We wanted to have a voice that was talking about the experience of people that went beyond the Avengers. That’s why we felt we really needed it in the movie. Otherwise, it just became too hermetic and insular. That character that Joe is playing really came from that point of view, him being an everyman who has suffered from Thanos’ act.”

“As filmmakers of a massive franchise,” Joe added, “we’re saying, ‘We support you.’”

During an interview at the premiere of Avengers: Endgame, Sarah Finn, the casting director behind all of the MCU films, discussed how it’s time for LGBTQ characters in the Marvel Universe. While she remarked that the “casting process is very confidential,” and couldn’t talk about it, she did note: “I think the Marvel Universe going forward is going to be more diverse than anything we’ve seen to date,” sharing that it’s an “incredibly exciting time with female directors and casts/actors representing all different backgrounds, all different nationalities and LGBTQ as well as others.”