“That is just part of who he is.”

It looks like Valkryie won’t be the first openly queer superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Over the weekend, Kevin Feige – Marvel Studios president – confirmed rumours that upcoming film The Eternals will feature a gay character. “He’s married. He’s got a family. And that is just part of who he is,” Feige said on Good Morning America.

The Eternals will star Angelina Jolie as Thena, Richard Madden as Ikaris, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Salma Hayek as Ajak, Gemma Chan as Sersi, Kit Harrington as Dane Whitman, Bryan Tyree Henry as Phastos and Lauren Ridloff as Makkari.

It will be set at the beginning of the universe, and will focus on the aforementioned characters, an immortal alien race created by the Celestials – who first appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy – who are sent to Earth to protect humanity.

Due for release in November 2020, the film will be the second entry in Marvel’s ‘Phase 4’ after Black Widow, which will see Scarlett Johansson reprise her role for a prequel, set between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.

The third sequel in the Thor franchise, Love and Thunder, will also make strides with representation. The film – which will be released in 2021 – will see Tessa Thompson’s character Valkyrie, the new King of Asgard, and her search for a queen.

It was also reported earlier this month that Marvel are seeking a transgender actress for a role in the franchise. A casting call has been released for a character called Jessica, a role for “a transwoman actress of any ethnicity in her 20s to 30s”.

It’s part of a new initiative by Marvel to become more diverse, especially after the acclaim and box office success of films such as Black Panther and Captain Marvel, both of which grossed over one billion dollars.

Victoria Alonso – the studio’s executive vice-president – said she hoped Marvel would set the standard with diversity.

“We’re just determined to have it be how we do it,” she told Vulture. “And if we do it, maybe somebody else will do it. I encourage every studio, every indie production company, every filmmaker out there to make an effort.”

And Sarah Halley Finn, the casting director for every Marvel film since Iron Man, said: “You’re gonna see even more new faces — and faces from all different background, all ages, all ethnicities, LGBTQ, people who are differently abled.

“It’s a priority to have authenticity, to increase representation, to give greater representation to actors who have not traditionally been represented in mainstream movies on the big screen.”

Related: Spider-Man star Tom Holland says Marvel needs to represent more than the “straight white guy”.