Other than the fact that Marvel Studios will keep pumping out content for the foreseeable future, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe should also be aware of the studio’s commitment to diversity and representation in the recently-unveiled Phase 4. It’s better late than never, but it looks like Marvel Studios will finally be having queer characters in their franchise, and it’s pretty obvious that Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie is one such character.
Marvel Studios president and owner of the nerdiest cap collection of all time Kevin Feige confirmed the MCU’s efforts for more LGBTQ+ characters to Collider after their bomb-dropping San Diego Comic-Con panel. With Thompson mentioning how Valkyrie is now “King” of Asgard and is searching for her queen in Thor: Love and Thunder, preluding to Natalie Portman’s surprise return as Jane Foster aka the future female Thor, many fans saw that as a hint. Feige confirms this in a quote:
“Yes, that’s the case, and will be the case not just with [Valkyrie] but with other characters in some of the movies we talked about today.”
One such “other movie” is The Eternals, which will be directed by Chloe Zhao. The cast already boasts a diverse cast that includes Kumail Nanjiani and Angelina Jolie, along with Tony-nominated Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, who will be reimagined as a deaf woman. While we don’t know which character in the ensemble cast will be queer, to have The Eternals be the platform for another such character would make a lot of sense.
To summarize, we’re going to have gay characters, a black Captain America, a female Thor, a female Hawkeye, a deaf character, and an Asian cast in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. It’s an exciting time for Marvel fans from marginalized communities, and a bad time for racists, sexists, ableists, and other bad faith actors, i.e. bad people.
Marvel Studios has had a mixed record on diversity in the past—Avengers: Endgame with its token, unnamed gay cameo character played by co-director Joe Russo being a negative example. But with all of that Disney money and an absurd number of release dates on the schedule, Marvel Studios has a lot of chances to finally get it right.