“Eternals,” which features a cast of globally recognized Hollywood stars including Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek, has reportedly been pulled from cinemas in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait for the inclusion of Marvel Cinematic’s first gay superhero Universe.
The new film, which stars tech genius Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) in the MCU’s first same-sex kiss, has been quietly banned ahead of its November 11 release in conservative Gulf nations, according to Variety Other the Hollywood reporter.
The superhero movie star studded, directed by Academy Award winner Chloé Zhao, was reportedly met with a series of change requests from local censors and Disney was unwilling to make those changes, THR reported.
Disney reps did not immediately respond to the Times’ request for comment Thursday.
“Eternals” – part of Marvel’s Phase 4 launch – opened Wednesday in 14 international markets and also stars Richard Madden, Gemma Chan and Kumail Nanjiani as ancient superpowered beings protecting humanity. The final cut in the US features the title character Phastos in a highly publicized scene at home with her mortal husband (played by Lebanese actor Haaz Sleiman) and their baby boy.
Zhao, that made history with his Oscar wins for “Nomadland” earlier this year, he said he asked Marvel not to alter any scenes to appease the censors.
“I don’t know all the details, but I think there have been discussions and there is a great desire on the part of Marvel and me – we talked about it – not to change the cut of the film,” he said. IndieWire. “Fingers crossed.”
Saudi Arabia, which reopened its cinemas in 2018 After a 35-year ban, it quickly became the largest theater market in the Middle East, but still often censors films. Homosexuality is illegal in much of the region and it is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Many films are withdrawn or censored due to LGBTQ references.
The alleged ban comes shortly before the kingdom plans to launch the glitzy International Red Sea Film Festival next month – an event that promises exhibitors that no editorial cuts or changes to any film will be made by the organizers without the written approval of the rights holders.
Lists for “Eternals”, which were previously advertised, are not available on the websites of both countries, as well as in Kuwait. Regional booking website elCinema.com, which publishes lists of theaters by country and what’s coming soon, also doesn’t list “Eternals” in several Gulf countries. The film is still “coming” to Egypt and Lebanon. It is still expected to be released as planned in the UAE, the trade publications say.
A regional cinema chain told THR that “Eternals” had been “banned” but was not told why.
In Singapore, “Eternals” became the first MCU film to receive an M18 certificate, restricting viewing to audiences under the age of 18. This was stated by a spokesperson for the Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore the Guardian which was the result of “homosexual references”.
Zhao’s film probably won’t even be released in China. The Beijing-born director has faced a nationalist backlash in mainland China after discussing his upbringing there. China, the world’s largest film market, also skipped the release of Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” earlier this year, despite being played by the studio’s first Asian superhero, to because of the “insults” to China made by its star, Simu Liu.
The “Eternals” actor Sleiman said Variety at the Los Angeles premiere that she thought her scene with Henry was “lifesaving”.
“Can you imagine how many lives this will save: children, queer youth, bullying, committing suicide and not being represented? And now they can see it: it’s above and beyond, “he said.
The project also includes the MCU’s first deaf superhero, Makkari (played by Lauren Ridloff), and the first MCU sex scene between two straight characters.