After Spider-Man: Far From Home brought Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to a close, the studio has entered the interim time until Phase Four begins with Cate Shortland's Black Widow. While the wait is sure to be excruciating as time goes on, the studio has spent the summer making tons of exciting announcements about what to expect from the next slate of movies. Plenty of these came from the recent D23 Expo: The Eternals will include the first major openly LGBT character in the cinematic universe.
The MCU has become a far more inclusive place throughout Phase Three, as women and people of color were given the spotlight in projects like Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and Ant-Man and The Wasp. The first queer character popped up during Anthony Russo's Endgame cameo, but we'll get a larger character in the upcoming Eternals movie. Without naming the character, Kevin Feige teased this arrival, saying:
Well, this is exciting. Kevin Feige and other Marvel Studio execs have repeatedly expressed their dedication to making the MCU a more diverse place. Steps have been made forward in the past few years, and now LGBT representation is finally coming to the massive franchise.
Kevin Feige's comments to Good Morning America at D23 are sure to excite Marvel fans who have been waiting for more representation on screen. The MCU took some flack for this with its first two phases, as the stories mostly followed white men in their superheroics. It's a bit of feedback that the studio seemed cognizant of, and the franchise as a whole has pivoted to become a more inclusive place across the boards.
Phase Four of the MCU looks like it's going to be the most diverse slate of projects yet. This includes both big screen adventures like The Eternals and Black Widow, as well as Disney+ series like WandaVision, Ms. Marvel, and She-Hulk. This will break new ground for the massive franchise, especially when it comes to LGBT representation.
Kevin Feige didn't explain which cast member from The Eternals would be cinematic universe's first significant queer character, but he does use male pronouns, so we can make some educated guesses. There's the possibility of Richard Madden's Ikaris, Kumail Nanjiani's Kingo, or Bryan Tyree Henry's Phastos. Kit Harrington also has a role, one that Feige thinks has the potential for long legs in the franchise.
Of course, the argument can be made that there were already some LGBT characters in Phase Three. Anthony Russo played one in Avengers: Endgame. After the snap and five year time jump, Steve Rogers was shown facilitating a support group for survivors. Russos character was there, mentioning he had gone on a date with a man, and they both wept during the dinner. It was a brief scene, but one that got headlines.
Additionally, Tessa Thompson has always maintained that her character Valkyrie was a bisexual woman. But this wasn't made explicitly clear during her appearance in Thor: Ragnarok or Endgame, and the scene that did in Ragnarok ended up on the cutting room floor. As such, The Eternals should be a major step forward in that regard.
You can see Kevin Feige's comments to Good Morning America below, as well as some of Disney's other reveals from D23.
Are you excited yet?
The Eternals looks like it will be the MCU's most inclusive blockbuster. Gender roles were swapped, the cast is racially diverse, and it will introduce the first major queer character and first hearing impaired superhero to the franchise. Excitement for the project has been picking up steam, and that should only continue as filming and marketing continues.
It should be fascinating to see how The Eternals continues to develop, as it's already got quite a bit of momentum after the announcements at San Diego Comic-Con and D23 Expo. It's been long teased that cosmic stories will continue to have a larger role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and The Eternals has the potential to greatly expand the franchise when it arrives in theaters in November of 2020. The movie will be one of the first installments in Phase Four, introducing a new starring cast of Marvel heroes in the process.
Following Avengers: Endgame, the MCU is losing some of its longest running and most beloved characters. We saw both Robert Downey Jr.s Iron Man and Scarlett Johansson's Black perish in The Russo Brothers massive blockbuster, sacrificing themselves in order to destroy Thanos once and for all. While ScarJo's Avenger will get her swan song in the long awaited Black Widow movie, we shouldn't expect Natasha to pop up much after that. Additionally, Chris Evans' Captain America traveled back in time to spend his days with Peggy Carter, returning to the current timeline as an old man and passing on the mantle of Cap to Sam Wilson. So it's safe to say to say that the studio needed to bring some fresh talent into the mix, to fill out the ranks on the constantly changing shared universe.
Director Chloé Zhao will do just that with The Eternals, as the upcoming project is an ensemble-focused movie that will bring a new team of ultra powerful heroes to the silver screen. The cast is absolutely stellar including Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kumail Nanjiani, and Brian Tyree Henry. Additionally, Game of Thrones' actors Richard Madden and Kit Harrington, as well as The Walking Dead's Lauren Ridloff will help fill out the cast list. Captain Marvel actress Gemma Chan will also play a new character in the MCU as Sersi.
Which of these new heroes will end up as an LGBT character is unclear, but there were rumors that Marvel Studios was seeking an openly gay actor for the role. But seemingly anything could happen, as roles have already been changed by Chloé Zhao and company. The narrative possibilities are seemingly endless, particularly since the characters aren't exactly household names.
Chloé Zhao's The Eternals will arrive in theaters on November 6, 2020. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.
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Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.