Marvel Studio’s upcoming title Eternals will not be released in three Gulf countries.
The Hollywood Reporter reported the superhero film has been quietly scrubbed from websites in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar. While no official reason was provided for the removals, sources suggested the apparent bans came in response to the film’s depiction of the MCU’s first gay superhero.
According to THR's sources, Disney was unwilling to make edits requested by censors in the three countries. While the nature of the edits was not specifically named, it was believed they related to the depiction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's first gay couple, superhero Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) and his husband Ben (Haaz Sleiman). The movie was due to be released throughout the Gulf region on November 11.
Oscar-winning director Chloé Zhao said last month she had her “fingers crossed” about the possibility of local censorship of the film’s gay scenes for foreign audiences. At the time, it appeared there was little desire by Marvel or the filmmaker to submit to such homophobic requests.
“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,” Zhao said.
The hateful response to the film over its depiction of a gay superhero in a same-sex relationship was not just limited to international censors. IMDb was forced to pull negative reviews of the movie after the site was inundated with hateful trolls review-bombing the film before it was even released. Users called the film “woke and mediocre” and “sucky” and lamented its positive portrayal of Phastos and Ben.
Eternals previews later this evening in the U.S. and opens nationwide on Friday. You can watch the official trailer for Eternals below.