Avengers: Endgame features Marvel’s first on-screen gay character.

While the major movie studio has made strides for representation with films like Black Panther and Captain Marvel, fans have been hoping for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to feature an openly LGBTQ character for years now.

It may not be the queer superhero we’ve been waiting for, but new blockbuster Avengers: Endgame does feature an openly gay character.

[Minor spoilers ahead]

Played by co-director Joe Russo, the man appears in an early scene at a support group for people trying to move on from losing loved ones after Thanos snapped his fingers and wiped out 50% of the world’s population in Avengers: Infinity War.

In the short scene, the unnamed character talks about going on his first date since losing his male partner. It’s a small moment, sure, but it’s a step in the right direction and gives fans hope that something more substantial is on its way.

“Representation is really important,” Joe Russo said to Deadline of the scene.

“It was important to us as we did four of these films, we wanted a gay character somewhere in them. We felt it was important that one of us play him, to ensure the integrity and show it is so important to the filmmakers that one of us is representing that.

“It is a perfect time, because one of the things that is compelling about the Marvel Universe moving forward is its focus on diversity.”

It’s been heavily rumoured that one of the upcoming films on Marvel’s ever-expanding roster, The Eternals, will feature Hercules as the first openly gay male character. If true, this will be a landmark moment for LGBTQ representation.

There’s been no official confirmation yet, and no official confirmation that The Eternals movie is even happening, but Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige gave a hint of whats to come at a recent junket for Avengers: Endgame.

“Well it’s accurate in that we’ve talked about [it for] a long time,” he told io9 when asked about the accuracy of rumours that a gay character will appear in The Eternals, or any other Marvel movie in the future.

“You look at the success of Captain Marvel and Black Panther. We want the movies to reflect the audience and we want every member of our global audience to see themselves reflected on the screen.

“And that’s what we’ve been doing for a long time. And certainly, that’s what we’re focusing on going forward.”

Historically, big-budget superhero movies have chosen to tone down or erase queerness from their characters, likely because some of the world’s biggest entertainment markets (including China) don’t allow LGBTQ representation on screen.

In 2017, Tessa Thompson revealed she filmed a scene for Thor: Ragnarok which confirmed her character Valkyrie’s bisexuality, but it was later cut. Similarly, a same-sex romance was removed from the final edit of Black Panther.

Marvel’s comics, meanwhile, continue to provide plenty of LGBTQ representation. Back in 2012, Northstar entered into a same-sex marriage with his partner Kyle, and last year Iceman had his first gay kiss with a glorious full-page illustration.

In a recent issue of X-Men: Gold, Bobby Drake (Iceman) was seen discussing his hook-up with Simon Lasker (Pyro).