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It’s been eight years since the Marvel Cinematic Universe began, and with Captain America: Civil War, its 13th installment, about to hit theaters, the franchise is more popular than ever. This universe features a variety of heroes, from established faces like Iron Man and Black Widow to newbies like Scarlet Witch and Black Panther, but there still has yet to be any major LGBT representation on their big screen endeavors. However, Captain America: Civil War directors Joe and Anthony Russo think that could change soon.
The Russo brothers, who are also helming the Avengers: Infinity War movies, told Collider the as directors, it’s their responsibility to make movies for audiences that reflect the real world. As they put it:
I think the chances are strong. I mean, it’s incumbent upon us as storytellers who are making mass-appeal movies to make mass-appeal movies, and to diversify as much as possible. It’s sad in the way that Hollywood lags behind other industries so significantly, one because you think that it would be a progressive industry, and two it’s such a visible industry. So I think it’s important that on all fronts we keep pushing for diversification because then the storytelling becomes more interesting, more rich, and more truthful.
These comments echo when Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said last year that we might see an LGBT character introduced to the franchise within the next decade or so, but for now, no significant progress has ben made. One of the common arguments against including LGBT characters in the Marvel movies is that it might hurt box office numbers in places like China and Russia, but Joe Russo later argued that because the MCU has been so successful, it allows them to take these kind of risks and make "bolder choices." However, there have been better strides over on the TV side of things.
Currently the MCU’s highest profile LGBT character is Carrie Ann Moss’ Jeri Hogarth on the Netflix series Jessica Jones, and Victoria Hand was a recurring character in ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season, though her sexuality was never mentioned. The only character who came close to this in the movies is Iron Man 2’s Justin Hammer, and his sexuality wasn’t "implied" until the short film All Hail the King in one of those stereotypical "prison bitch" scenarios. Besides him, the Marvel movies have yet to feature a major LGBT character, whether it’s as an Avenger or a supporting character, and contributed to GLAAD’s recent report about how Disney didn’t include any gay characters in their movies last year, which also included the Star Wars franchise.
The MCU’s Phase Three kicks off this Friday with Captain America: Civil War, and will conclude in May 2019 with Avengers: Infinity War Part 2. Perhaps by then we’ll see a major LGBT character introduced, and if not, let’s hope Phase Four will make up for that.