Transgender character coming to Marvel Cinematic Universe, studio president suggests

"When you're sitting at a table, and everyone looks like you, you're in trouble," Kevin Feige said. "You're not going to get the best story out of it."
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Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios.The Walt Disney Company via Getty Images
By Gwen Aviles

A transgender character is coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, according to Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios.

Feige announced the news during an event Saturday at the New York Film Academy with NYFA’s Director of Industry Lecture Series, Tova Laiter.

During the question-and-answer session after the panel, a student asked Feige if there were any plans to add more LGBTQ characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, "specifically the T, trans characters," to which Feige responded, " "Yes, absolutely. Yes."

"Very soon," Feige added. "In a movie we're shooting right now."

A report from Variety, however, said that Feige was answering only the first part of the question about LGBT characters, and "he did not mean to imply that a trans character will be coming to the MCU 'very soon.'" The report cites two sources close to the studio.

Feige did not specify which movie would include the character, but some fans speculate that the movie could be "The Eternals," as it is in production. NBC News has reached out to Marvel Studios for further comment.

The announcement comes a year after Marvel cast Zach Barack, believed to be the first out trans actor to be cast in a big-budget superhero film, in "Spider-Man: Far From Home." Barack played Zach, one of Peter Parker's classmates. The latest iteration of "Spider-Man" also included trans actor Tyler Luke Cunningham as a featured extra.

Despite these strides, the Marvel Cinematic Universe's history has yet to cast a transgender superhero in any of its lead roles.

At the bequest of fans, Marvel has made progress in telling more diverse stories. The company previously announced that "The Eternals" will feature its first openly gay male superhero and first deaf superhero. It will also introduce its first Asian-American superhero in "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings."

Last year, Feige revealed that Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie, first introduced in "Thor: Ragnarok," is an LGBTQ character. The character's sexuality had not been explicitly stated in previous films; in fact, a scene in "Thor: Ragnarok" showing Valkyrie in a relationship with another woman was cut. Yet Feige said she would be involved in an LGBTQ storyline in the forthcoming 2021 film "Thor: Love and Thunder."

“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,'" Feige said at the annual San Diego Comic Convention earlier this year.

Another student asked Feige how the Marvel Cinematic Universe plans to become "more inclusive and diverse" moving forward, referencing the success of the 2018 film "Black Panther," which featured a predominantly black cast.

"We wanted to keep showcasing heroes — from the comics — that represent the world that goes to see our movies," Feige said. "When you're sitting at a table, and everyone looks like you, you're in trouble. You're not going to get the best story out of it."

According to GLAAD's 2019 Studio Responsibility Index, an annual report that maps the quality and quantity of LGBTQ roles in film, 20 percent of films in 2018 had characters that identified as LGBTQ — an increase of more than 5 percent than the previous year.