Jerrod Carmichael
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How Eternals Director Chloé Zhao Brought Queerness, Sexuality, & Intimacy to the MCU


Warning! Some Eternals spoilers ahead!

Marvel Studios' latest blockbuster title Eternals is finally in theaters, and besides starring an A-list cast that includes the likes of bi icon Angelina Jolie and fellow screen legend Salma Hayek, it's notable for single-handedly bringing all sorts of on-screen representation of marginalized identities to a mainstream superhero flick! Eternals features so many amazing, badass women of all ages, a deaf hero, plenty of people of color, and (to our absolute delight) the Marvel Cinematic Universe's first gay hero Phastos (played by Atlanta alum Brian Tyree Henry) alongside his loving family!

Out got the chance to speak with Nomadland's Chloé Zhao, the Oscar-winning co-writer and director of Eternals, about bringing a major gay character to the MCU, if she felt any kind of pressure while bringing the film to life, embracing sexuality in a superhero movie, and so much more! 

"We wanted the film, especially [in] a story about people that [have] been with us since the beginning of human civilization, we wanted to make sure it represents the reality of the world we live in," Zhao told Out about bringing queer hero Phastos, and his husband and son, to life in Eternals. "It feels like the most natural thing to have this family in the film. If you think about it, Phastos' family is really one of the very few moments of human interactions we have. And it's this family that brought faith back to someone who has lost faith in humanity as a whole, right? Because [of] all the terrible things we've done, it takes him to forget about looking at humanity as a whole, but looking at one man and one child and the love they have for each other to regain the faith. And for us, for the audiences to feel that, is the most important thing."

And a gay hero isn't the only historic first Eternals has up its sleeve. The film is notably more intimate, romantic, and embraces its characters' love lives and sexualities a lot more than any other MCU film of the past — and that even included a love scene between two of the film's main characters Sersi (Gemma Chan) and Ikaris (Richard Madden). 

"To show them loving each other, not just emotionally, intellectually, but also physically, is very important," Zhao said about Eternals celebrating sexuality. "Sometimes I think to show sexuality in a positive, compassionate, gentle, and loving way is a really good thing. This isn't something we should be ashamed of, or we should hide. So it was great to be able to play it."

Eternals is now playing in theaters. 

RELATED | Kit Harington Says Gay Inclusion Was a 'Big Reason' to Join Eternals

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