While some countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman are flat out declining to release the movie due to its queer content, other countries are showing a cut of the latest, queer-inclusive Marvel flick that simply edits out a scene where Phastos kisses his husband, leaving in other scenes he has with his husband and son.
The same-sex kiss was edited out of the film in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Ethiopia, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey. But it wasn’t just the gay kiss that was edited out, it was any and all scenes of physical intimacy and kissing between characters (LGBTQ+ and straight), which is standard in those countries.
Despite removing the kiss, the version of Eternals that screened in the countries still shows Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) to be happily married to a man, who also happens to be played by gay Muslim actor Haaz Sleiman. The movie also keeps scenes that show they are raising a son together.
Eternals director Chloé Zhao had previously expressed that she didn’t want any scenes cut for international audiences. “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.”
While her dream didn’t exactly come true, Middle Eastern audiences are still getting to see a positive portrayal of a Black gay superhero and his Middle Eastern husband. They will still see the two sharing a home, calling each other husband, and raising a child together, something that is rarely seen in media in the area.
Sleiman, who was raised in Lebanon before moving to the U.S., praised Disney for fighting to keep the relationship in the film. “They stood their ground and said, ‘Nope, we are not going to compromise the integrity of our film,’” Sleiman told Variety. “It made these Arab countries look so ignorant and pathetic.”
Eternals is now playing in theaters.