When Marvel's Eternals debuts in theaters in just a matter of weeks, it is expected to bring a number of new levels of storytelling into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The upcoming film will feature a diverse ensemble of characters, as well as an LGBTQ+ romance between Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) and a character portrayed be Haaz Sleiman, making Phastos the first openly gay MCU superhero. In a recent interview with Variety during the world premiere of Eternals, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige indicated that the milestone with Phastos is "just the start" of LGBTQ+ representation in the franchise.
"There have been gay heroes before in the comics. It is more than past time in the movies," Feige explained. "It's just the start."
While the MCU has been making some headlines over the years for its LGBTQ+ representation (or, in some cases, lack thereof), 2021 has brought some positive developments. Namely, Loki Laufeyson (Tom Hiddleston) came out as bisexual in an episode of the Loki Disney+ series.
"It takes time, we have so many stories that we can tell," Marvel producer Victoria Alonso explained to Variety earlier this year. "We will empower those that are. We're not changing anything. We're just showing the world who these people are, who these characters are… There's a lot that we have coming up that I think will be representative of the world of today. We're not going to nail it in the first movie or the second movie or third movie, or the first show or second show, but we will do our best to consistently try to represent."
"I have to be honest with you, it's not a big deal," Alonso added. "It is what it is when it suits the character. We're not going to do it because it's politically correct or incorrect. It is what it is. Don't forget, we follow our comics. We try to follow them quite to the tee. So in the comics, this is who he was."
2022's Thor: Love and Thunder is also expected to see Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) searching for a "queen" to rule alongside her in New Asgard, canonizing her comic-accurate sexuality in the comics.
"The answer is yes," Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said of how Valkyrie's LGBTQ+ identity will affect the film in 2019. "How that impacts the story remains to be seen with that level of representation you'll see across our films, not in just Thor 4".