Are gay characters already in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? If they aren't now, they will be soon. Marvel has been very ahead of the curve in some ways, but a little behind the ball on others. Like when it comes to a female-led superhero movie, for example. It looks like they are going to be getting out in front of things soon, with the first lesbian characters likely to debut in Marvel's Black Panther. But Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn thinks that gay characters could already be out there.

Starting with James Gunn, while promoting Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the director spoke with The Guardian. At one point, the topic of gay characters in the MCU came up and James Gunn revealed that he thinks there is a possibility they already exist, and his reasoning is pretty sound. Here is what he had to say about it.

"You know, somebody asked me, 'Will there be any gay characters in Marvel movies?' and what I meant was there's a lot of characters in the MCU and very few of them that we've delved into what their sexuality is. Whether it's gay or straight or bisexual, we don't really know. Um, so I imagine that there are probably, you know, gay characters in the Marvel universe, you know, we just don't know who they are yet."

James Gunn does make a good point, in that, the idea of sexuality hasn't been explored all that heavily in the MCU. So sure, there could be gay characters in the universe that we already know. But Black Panther, which is set to hit theaters next year, looks to confront sexuality head on and put the first lesbian characters in a Marvel movie.

During a recent open house held by Marvel, some footage from Black Panther was screened. In the footage, a couple of Wakandan bodyguards, who are known as the Dora Milaje, were featured in a scene on a boat. Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Ayo (Florence Kasumba) are the characters in question and, at one point, they compliment one another and there is a very strong sexual innuendo. So, while they weren't wearing shirts that directly identified them as lesbians, it was made pretty clear in the footage that there is strong sexual chemistry being shared between two women in Black Panther.

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That is a very big deal. Though Marvel itself would later go on the record days after the open house and claim that the two characters are just 'mates', as in 'friends'. It is believed this relationship is based on the love story featured in the Black Panther comic spin-off World Of Wakanda, which centers on 'a Wakandan love story' between two young women called Ayo and Aneka. Right now, Marvel is insisting that the relationship won't be taken further than innocent flirting. But the gay themes are heavily implied, and it's interesting to note that this is one of the few dialogue exchanges Marvel decided to show attendees of their open house.

Not only is Black Panther going to feature a cast that consists of 90 percent black actors and actresses, but it looks like they will be bringing some lesbian characters out in the open. Even if there are some unidentified gay characters already floating around somewhere within the confines of the MCU, this is a much bigger deal. Black Panther will be breaking some serious ground within the superhero genre. It may be a little bit risky, but at this point, Marvel can afford to take some risks. And those risks could really pay off. And having an openly gay character in this spring's mega-hit Beauty and the Beast certainly didn't hamper its run at the box office, with that movie also coming from Disney.