Avengers Endgame is breaking all box office records in the books. It is the fastest movie to ever get not only to 1 billion dollars but also to 2 billion and I would be surprised if it surpasses Avatar soon-ish. With a 300+ millions debut in North America alone and 1.2 billion worldwide, it is indisputable how big the film and the franchise is. And Marvel Studios deserves the praise for what it has achieved. Endgame is one hell of a film, giving everyone a satisfying ending to the Infinity Saga that we have been watching since the first Iron Man came out. But, if there’s one flaw for me in this near perfect film is the introduction of a throwaway gay character (played by one of the directors) and how the media decided to frame this character.
The token gay character has been in cinema for so long. It is often a throwaway character that has no real purpose and is only there so that the filmmaker or studio can say: “Look at us! We are so diverse!” Marvel’s Kevin Feige has been saying for a long time how he thinks it is time for Marvel to introduce a gay character in the MCU. Even it’s stars, most notably Tessa Thompson and Brie Larson, have been vocal about wanting to see Marvel finally get there. But to me, it seems to simply be words that are never going to come to fruition. I’ve long been asking for a gay superhero to appear in the MCU but I also gave up a long time ago.
The MCU doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to LGBTQ+ character in its universe. The TV shows are probably where you will find most of its representation and even then not all of them have handled the gay characters in the best way. The problem with all of that is that Marvel has long refused to let them live on the big screen even if they are supposed to be in the same shared universe. But even with all the shows in the MCU, I can still count the LGBTQ+ characters on one hand. Marvel’s refusal to let diversity live on the big screen has for a long time been a problem. How long did it take us to get a Black Panther movie, a Captain Marvel movie? Even a Black Widow movie? These are characters that break the mole, and also broke box office records when they finally got the chance to shine, and yet Marvel still seems to be slow to embrace LGBTQ+ superheroes.
It’s interesting to look at the conversation around the character that was introduced in Endgame. The directors have given multiple interviews to explain how they felt and how they approached introducing such a character but the truth is that none of that should be happening. No one walked out of the movie saying out loud how happy they were that this one line character was gay. Hell, most people probably walked out not even remembering that he was a gay character, most of them seeing it more as a cameo for the director. I don’t think I would have said anything on the subject if the Russo’s and Marvel hadn’t been going around praising themselves. As a gay woman who has been trying her entire life to see myself represented in the movies, I will say that this is not it.
You can see the small efforts that Marvel has tried to put on in recent years but has just never decided to go forward with it. I remember when the news that Tessa Thompson had fought to make Valkyrie bisexual and that the scene ended up being cut. Or even when it was announced that the rumoured relationship between Okoye and Ayo was not happening. It just broke me, I thought that finally, we were making progress and even with all of those possibilities it was taken away from us. But still, Marvel wanted us to celebrate it, celebrate the little progress they made like it is a big achievement.
Marvel might want us to believe that they are doing good and want our praises for this character that doesn’t even have a name, but the truth is that they don’t deserve it. They need to do better and until we hold them accountable, it won’t happen.