Avengers: Endgame did quite a few things for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The epic film certainly brought together the stories and narrative threads of the previous 21 films, taking them from individual franchises to one huge story and also turned a page, setting the universe up for a new chapter with new stories waiting to be told, but those are the big, huge, expected things. Endgame also brought changes to the MCU in a more street-level way, specifically with the inclusion of the franchise's first-ever openly gay character -- played by one of the directors themselves, something the Russo Brothers mattered deeply to them.
Just a note, there are very mild spoilers ahead for Avengers: Endgame below.
Near the beginning of the film in the support group scene teased in trailers for Endgame, the MCU's first openly gay character makes their debut. Played by Joe Russo, it's not a huge dramatic moment. Steve is running the group, talking about the losses they've all suffered and the importance of moving forward with life. Joe's character takes a turn to speak and talks about going out on his first date since the devastating snap, openly noting that his date is another man and that they both continue to have a difficult time dealing with the snap but are going out again soon.
It's a very small role and a fairly brief moment -- too much so, if you ask some who feel like the character isn't significant enough or that it’s not really the first with their being LGBTQ characters some of the MCU-connected television shows -- but still significant in that it shows a sense of normalcy and not just in terms of the whole dating-after-loss situation. The character is just a man who has suffered a loss and is trying to move on. His sexuality is secondary in context of the moment. But it was very important for the directors.
"Representation is really important for us in these movies and I think the thing we are happiest most about Marvel moving forward is it's becoming incredibly diverse," Joe Russo told The Hollywood Reporter. "We've done four of these films and it was incredibly important to us to have a gay character represented somewhere in one of these four movies. We felt so strongly about it that I wanted to play that character in the film."
His brother and co-director, Anthony, went a little further, addressing the significance of having it be an ordinary person as opposed to an Avenger, with the character being something of a spokesperson, if you will, of everyone on Earth impacted by Thanos.
"On a story level, the reason that scene was important to us was when you have a plot point that involves half of all life dying, it's important to us that we really want to commit to that concept and carry that narrative forward," Anthony explained. "We had to have a voice in the movie that was outside of the Avengers. Sort of bringing the experience of what Thanos did into the narrative and filling out the narrative. That scene was very important to us because we wanted to reach people beyond the Avengers to tell the story of what the snap did to people."
Avengers: Endgame is in theaters now.
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