As Marvel has continued to build out the MCU, it has also expanded the types of characters represented onscreen. That will continue in Phase Four with The Eternals, which Kevin Feige confirmed at D23 would feature the MCU’s first major openly LGBTQ character. For Eternals star Richard Madden, who plays Ikaris in the film, this is ‘hugely important’, as he explained:
I think it's hugely important, just the cast is so diverse. I'm a white male actor and not in the majority of this cast. I'm the minority, which is important in terms of diversity in filmmaking. I think Marvel are really at the forefront of that.
Based on his comments to ET, Richard Madden is a big supporter of Marvel introducing its first openly LGBT character in The Eternals movie. He doesn’t take this milestone for granted, either. The actor, who previously starred in Game of Thrones and The Bodyguard, views this as a significant and consequential milestone for that kind of representation onscreen and in this type of movie.
As Richard Madden noted, the diversity on display in Chloé Zhao’s Eternals won’t just be limited to it featuring the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first openly gay major character. Eternals has a stacked cast that includes actors of all different races and backgrounds. While white men have historically been the majority in superhero movies, with the Eternals that is not the case.
The Eternals’ cast includes actresses Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan, Lia McHugh, Lauren Ridloff and Salma Hayek, along with actors Dong-seok Ma, Brian Tyree Henry and Kumail Nanjiani. There are still plenty of white dudes though, with Barry Keoghan and, in a Game of Thrones reunion, Kit Harington joining Richard Madden in the movie. It’s a cast that, depending on where you live, might look more like the diverse array of people you see and meet everyday.
According to Richard Madden, getting people who look different than him onscreen in a movie like Eternals is important to the kind of diversity in filmmaking the industry has historically lacked. Representation aside, let’s be honest, that’s a really awesome cast and if you’ve seen any of the work of these actors, you should already know they each bring something fun and unique to the table.
Richard Madden views Marvel to be at the forefront of diversity in filmmaking and it's hard to argue with that. At least on the blockbuster front, Marvel and Disney at large have been pushing representation and diversity both in front of and behind the camera. That’s evidenced in lots of the studio’s Phase Four titles, from the Black Widow solo film from director Cate Shortland, to this movie and to Marvel’s first Asian superhero film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, coming from director Destin Daniel Cretton.
And although Eternals will feature the first major openly LGBTQ character in a Marvel movie, the studio has already made strides on that front. Joe Russo’s character in Avengers: Endgame was openly gay and we know that Valkyrie is another LGBTQ character that will presumably have her sexuality more explicit in Thor: Love and Thunder.
As far as Eternals’ openly gay character is concerned, we don’t actually know who it will be yet but Kevin Feige has confirmed he will be married and have a family.
The Eternals opens in theaters on November 6, 2020. Check out our guide to see when all the Phase Four movies are hitting theaters coming up.