With over twenty-five films and four television series under their belt, Marvel Studios is certainly riding high with their Marvel Cinematic Universe as the all-time top-grossing movie franchise. Starting a few years ago, the blockbuster film studio started making a greater push towards diversity and inclusivity.
Much headway has been made in regard to representing POC superheroes such as global phenomenon, Black Panther and the high-tech African nation of Wakanda, as well as in their most recent feature film offering, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which bolstered a mostly Asian cast and ended up breaking box office records.
And certainly, female-led MCU projects have risen to prominence as of late too, with Black Widow and WandaVision to name a few. But there's one stand-out box that Marvel has yet to check in any significant way.
Indeed, apart from a support group attendee in 2019's Avengers: Endgame played by the film's director, Joe Russo, no character in the released MCU is confirmed to be canonically LGBTQ+. Of course, the upcoming Eternals will feature also a gay superhero named Phastos who is married with a child.
Russo and Eternals' Phastos Won't be the Last
Via Variety, at the world premiere of the 26th film in the MCU, Eternals, Marvel Studios president, Kevin Feige had the following to say on the topic of gay representation in the mega-franchise, specifically noting that Phastos is "just the start" of LBTQIA+ depiction in the MCU:
"There have been gay heroes before in the comics. It is more than past time in the movies, and its just the start."
More Needs to Be Done
Of course, having a gay superhero in a major motion picture is a tremendous step in the right direction, and Feige's words do instill a good degree of confidence. After all, Feige usually says what he means and is often very much to the point when he can be.
That being said, more progress needs to be made in this area. LGBTQ+ individuals are still often treated as lesser than other people. Marvel needs to use their platform to educate certain groups and normalize such a thing as a lesbian or transgender superhero in one of their myriad of upcoming film and television projects.
Perhaps even more importantly, representation matters. Kids need to live in a world where they can watch a superhero movie or show and be able to see someone, a positive role model, on their screen that's just like them. Queer representation in popular media has been gaining good traction in the past few years but is still very marginalized in certain ways.
Feige's statement brings hope, however. Phastos should be the first of many.