In terms of batting averages, Marvel Studios is perhaps the strongest and most consistent hitter around at the moment. Since 2012’s The Avengers, each of their six subsequent films grossed over over $500 million worldwide, with two of them—Iron Man 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultron—crossing $1 billion mark. That’s kind of an insane track record, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down with Captain America: Civil War scoring highly positive reviews with tremendous box office in its sights.
And with such astronomical success comes the opportunity to take risks, not just in storytelling but in showcasing characters that maybe don’t normally get a chance to shine in films as big as these. One major question that has been posed to the folks at Marvel Studios in recent years has been if or when we’ll see an LGBT character in one of their films, and when Collider’s own Steve Weintraub sat down with Civil War directors Joe and Anthony Russo recently—who are also helming Marvel’s massive two-part Avengers: Infinity War saga—they had a very promising answer. Joe Russo went so far as to say the onus is on them, as filmmakers making movies for a wide audience, to accurately reflect the world we live in:
“I think the chances are strong. I mean, it’s incumbent upon us as storytellers who are making mass-appeal movies to make mass-appeal movies, and to diversify as much as possible. It’s sad in the way that Hollywood lags behind other industries so significantly, one because you think that it would be a progressive industry, and two it’s such a visible industry. So I think it’s important that on all fronts we keep pushing for diversification because then the storytelling becomes more interesting, more rich, and more truthful.”
Indeed, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe sometimes suffers criticism of feeling same-y, adding LGBT characters opens up the storytelling to entirely new and different avenues while also more closely resembling the diverse makeup of humanity.
And while some may argue that it’s simply too risky to put LGBT characters into films that are meant to reap huge box office receipts in places like China and Russia, where LGBT people face both personal and legal discrimination as well as violence, Anthony Russo asserts that the massive success of Marvel makes it easier to take these kinds of risks:
“I think this is a philosophy of Marvel, in success it becomes easier to take risks. There’s a lot of unconventional ideas in Civil War in terms of what people’s expectations of a superhero movie are, but I think we were able to do that because Winter Soldier worked and Marvel’s been working in general, so there’s more of a boldness in terms of what you can try and where you can go. So I think that’s very hopeful for all of us moving forward that bolder and bolder choices can be made.”
Let’s sure hope so. Marvel Studios is now responsible for churning out some of the most widely seen films around, and so to have a studio that big include an LGBT character would send a strong message to the world at large while also allowing LGBT people to see a character that maybe more closely resembles themselves reflected in this immense superhero universe.
Indeed, Marvel Studios seems to be making a more concerted effort to diversify its films, with the Chadwick Boseman-led Black Panther set for release in 2018 and then Captain Marvel, the studio’s first female-led superhero movie, slated for 2019. Between those two films and the massive Infinity War saga, it certainly feels like there’s room for an LGBT character in there somewhere, so here’s hoping it comes sooner rather than later. The good news? Marvel’s go-to directors of the moment are 100% game.
Click here for more from our exclusive Russo brothers interview and look for more with them tomorrow.