Zhao, who won an Oscar for directing last year’s Frances McDormand-starring Nomandland, now has her first certified blockbuster coming out in the form of Eternals. Zhao didn’t just make one of the year’s biggest movies, though, she also made a movie with a gay character, queer family, and queer storylines. And she wants to make sure the movie stays that way, no matter where it's being shown.
When IndieWire’s Eric Kohn interviewed Zhao, he asked her if the gay scenes in the film were going to be edited for international audiences, something that happens far too often with onscreen depictions of queer relationships. Zhao was clear that she wants to avoid that kind of censorship.
“I don’t know all the details but I do believe discussions were had and there’s a big desire from Marvel and myself — we talked about this — to not change the cut of the movie,” she said. “Fingers crossed.”
Recent examples of this type of censorship include television broadcasters in South Korea censoring scenes of men kissing from the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, and UK television station 4Music cutting out scenes of gay kisses and discussions of gay sex from an episode of Schitt’s Creek.
Russia is one of the international leaders when it comes to cutting queer representation from movies. In 2020, they censored a scene where a gay cyclops cop says “it gets better” from the Pixar film Onward. They also cut gay sex and kissing scenes from the Elton John biopic Rocketman.
They’ve also had some experience censoring Marvel movies. The barely-there queer representation in Avengers: Endgame, where a nameless man says he went on a date with another man, was censored in the country.
Eternals arrives in theaters on November 5.