Marvel’s latest big-budget adventure Eternals has been pulled from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait after Disney reportedly refused to cut a same-sex kiss.
による ハリウッドレポーター, the $200m movie will not be released in the Gulf region countries after being removed from local sites. The studio has yet to comment or confirm but sources claim that the reason is a kiss between Brian Tyree Henry’s character and his on-screen husband, played by Haaz Sleiman. It marks the first gay kiss in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Homosexuality is still illegal across much of the region and is punishable by death in both Saudi Arabia and Qatar. A local cinema chain confirmed to the trade that the film was “banned” but had no explanation provided.
In Singapore, Eternals has become the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film to gain an M18 certificate, which restricts audiences to those aged 18 以上. A spokesperson for the country’s Infocomm Media Development Authority confirmed that it was a result of “homosexual references”. The film also contains a sex scene between two heterosexual characters.
Director Chloe Zhao, who won the Oscar for best director earlier this year for Nomadland, spoke recently about her desire to not tweak any scenes to appease censors.
“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 to Indiewire. “Fingers crossed.”
Lebanese actor Sleiman, who came out as gay in 2017, spoke about the importance of the scene at the film’s premiere. “It’s life-saving,” he said to Variety. “Can you imagine how many lives this is going to be saving – kids, young queer folk, who are being bullied, committing suicide, and not seeing themselves being represented? And now they get to see this – it’s above and beyond.”
The news follows a similar ban に 2020 for Pixar’s Onward which featured a brief scene involving a lesbian cyclops police officer voiced by Lena Waithe. In Russia, the use of the word “girlfriend” was changed to “partner”.
Eternals has started opening in many global territories with a US release on 5 November where it’s expected to open to around $75m.
The Guardian has reached out to Disney for comment.