Warning: this article contains mild spoilers for the upcoming film Avengers: Endgame.
Friday's release of Avengers: Endgame will mark the last Marvel movie directed by Joe and Anthony Russo. While the movie has already broken several records, the brothers decided on one small addition to nicely wrap up their historic run.
Endgame will feature the first openly gay character in all of Marvel's 22 films. The character, who isn't a superhero, is played by Joe Russo himself., who talks with others in a support group meant to help people who are grieving those who died after Thanos' "snap."
Though the role is relatively small, the inclusion of an openly gay character is significant. When speaking to Deadline, Joe explained, "When you have a story point that includes killing half of all humans on Earth, you’re telling a bigger story than The Avengers." He emphasized the importance of representation in film. "It was important to us as we did four of these films, we wanted a gay character somewhere in them," he said.
With the release of the movie being a global event, the Russo brothers understood the impact of such an inclusion would reach countries where the rights of the LGBTQ+ community may be suppressed. "It’s actually one of those elements of these movies that I think resonates in challenged places in the world as well," said Anthony.
The company's "focus on diversity" moving forward can also be linked to the role, as they are slowly veering towards the first openly gay superhero. A Marvel executive recently said that "the world is ready." Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, also confirmed last year that gay superheroes making their way to the MCU, and fans have speculated that Thor's Valkyrie (who is bisexual in the comments) is a likely candidate for the first one.