The release of Marvel’s latest film Eternals started off well with $7.6 million at the box office. Unfortunately, those numbers won’t be boosted in some key overseas markets since the movie has apparently been banned in some parts of the world. The reason for the Eternals ban seemingly has to do with the fact that it contains an intimate sex scene as well as a same-sex kiss between two characters. Unfortunately, there are parts of the world where this is still a big no-no and now Marvel and Disney are being forced to answer for their inclusion in the movie.
According to Deadline, Eternals was originally scheduled to open in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman on Nov. 11. However, the movie is currently banned from releasing in all of those areas. While no official word has been given as to why, the outlet notes that sources indicate scenes of physical romance (especially one between two male characters) is to blame. Meanwhile, other areas may be taking issue with the film’s representation of gods and prophets, which is a bit of a hot-button issue in some parts of the Gulf.
To its credit, Disney is reportedly straight-up refusing to make edits to the movie in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman. The likely culprit for the banning of distribution certificates for Eternals is the fact that it carries the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first same-sex kiss between the character Phastos, played by Brian Tyree Henry, and his on-screen husband, Ben (Haaz Sleiman). In some areas, it is still illegal to be a homosexual and the film industry has been notorious for trying to scrub it from screens.
As SlashFilm notes, Disney has been all too happy to comply with these rather homophobic demands in the past, but it seems to be backing director Chloe Zhao’s play when it comes to Eternals regardless of any overseas ban. This is indicative of a growing trend among the Mouse House’s movies to make very small inclusions of the LGBTQ+ community in its content. First, it had an exclusively gay moment in the live-action Beauty and the Beast movie before going on to directly reference a gay relationship in Avengers: Endgame. However, it’s one thing to have a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment here and there. It’s a whole other thing to introduce the first gay superhero.
Speaking to IndieWire ahead of the release of Eternals, the director behind the Oscar-winning film Nomadland explained that the scene is not only essential to the plot of the movie and the character Phastos but it marks a major milestone in Marvel Cinematic Universe history when it comes to representation of the LGBTQ+ community.
In addition to the same-sex scene, Eternals marks one of the first movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to feature any kind of sex scene. It may seem hard to believe that there wasn’t really any sex happening in the franchise for more than 25 movies. Unfortunately, that made them a much easier sell to more uptight markets like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman in the past. Now, it looks like Disney isn’t going to give in to demands when it comes to removing similar scenes or references.