Avengers: Endgame made Marvel Cinematic Universe history when it included its first openly gay character. It was a major moment for the studio, and for superhero movies in general, but the MCU’s first gay character got a whole lot of backlash. MCU studio head Kevin Feige and directors Joe and Anthony Russo were criticized for how they handled the character, known as Grieving Man in the credits.
Joe Russo portrayed Grieving Man, a snap survivor who detailed his issues coping with the Decimation. The man attended a group meeting led by Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), where members told stories about their lives after the snap. Grieving Man detailed a date he took with another man, and how they both broke down during different moments of their dinner.
Many believed the MCU’s first openly gay character was a “throwaway,” and Feige is now addressing the backlash in an interview with iO9.
“That was never meant to be our first focused character. That was just meant to be a matter of fact and a matter of life and a matter of truth. And I liked it that our hero, Steve Rogers, doesn’t blink an eye at that fact. It is just truth and is heartbreaking for his loss and for the life he’s trying to put back together. It was never meant to be looked at as our first hero. I guess it’s the first reference so it does, of course, get a lot of attention. We haven’t been shy about saying that that’s coming and that there’s much more prominent LGBT heroes in the future.”
— CinemaBlend (@CinemaBlend) June 22, 2019
Grieving Man didn’t appear to be the gay character that many fans were hoping for in an MCU movie, but it seems to be a starting point for the studio moving forward. In an interview with Deadline earlier this year, the film’s directors commented on how important it was for one of them to take on the role, and not an unknown actor.
According to Joe, it was important to he and his brother Anthony that one of them play Grieving Man, to ensure that the character was portrayed with integrity and they wanted the character handled in the best way possible.
Feige has admitted that there will be lots of diversity in the MCU moving forward, not just in sexual orientation, but race as well. The studio has been under pressure for years after employing mostly white casts and highlighting white superheroes.
Black Panther broke down barriers and proved audiences love superheroes no matter their race, creed, or sexual orientation. At the end of the day, everyone just wants to see the good guy win.