Marvel‘s Eternals will not release in Gulf countries Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar. The decision to pull the film from cinemas was likely made over the inclusion of a gay superhero and intimate scenes featuring a same-sex couple in the film, The Hollywood Reporter reported.
With Tyree Henry’s Phastos, Eternals introduced the first ever Black gay superhero in a Marvel film. The Chloe Zhao directorial, that is scheduled to release in these countries on November 11, faced edit requests by local censors. These requests were reportedly turned down by Disney. While the film was quietly removed from the websites of some of the countries, the United Arab Emirates still has it listed as among the titles coming soon.
A Deadline report suggests that while markets in Kuwait and Qatar might resent the film because of its depiction of gods and prophets, something that they consider blasphemous, the UAE and countries like Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt might delete all scenes of intimacy- both homosexual and heterosexual.
Eternals, which marks Oscar-winning filmmaker Zhao’s Marvel debut, introduces a new team of superheroes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Based on the Marvel Comics race of the same name, Eternals takes place in the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame (2019), and follows “ancient aliens who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years who, after being forced out of the shadows, reunite to fight against mankind’s oldest enemy, the Deviants.”
Zhao earlier told Indie Wire that “there’s a big desire from Marvel and myself — we talked about this — to not change the cut of the movie. Fingers crossed.” According to Zhao, introducing the MCU’s first openly gay superhero was already “written into the story” before she signed on as director.
The film features Angelina Jolie as the “fierce warrior” Thena, Richard Madden as the “all-powerful” Ikaris, Gemma Chan as “humankind loving” Sersi, Kumail Nanjiani as the “cosmic powered” Kingo, Lauren Ridloff as the “super-fast” Makkari, Brian Tyree Henry as the “intelligent inventor” Phastos, Salma Hayek as the “wise and spiritual leader” Ajak, Lia McHugh as the “eternally young and old soul” Sprite, Don Lee as the “powerful” Gilgamesh, Barry Koeghan as the “aloof loner” Druig, and Kit Harrington as Dane Whitman aka the Black Knight.
Since the film’s world premiere in Los Angeles, on October 18, it has received mixed reviews, including being called the most “un-MCU” movie ever, and noted how different it is from the “formulaic” Marvel films made so far.
The film was also review-bombed online recently, reportedly for its portrayal of a LGBTQIA+ relationship, and became the lowest-rated Marvel film ever on Rotten Tomatoes with a current 51 percent on Tomatometer.
However, the film that released on Friday, holds an audience rating of 86 percent.