Marvel's latest blockbuster Eternals makes history for the superhero franchise. But audiences in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar won't be able to see it in theaters.
The new Marvel film has been pulled from release in the countries after it was previously scheduled to debut there on Nov. 11, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety report The Reporter cites sources as saying this was likely due to the inclusion of a gay superhero, who is in a same-sex relationship in the film.
Eternals revolves around a group of immortal beings, and a sequence in the movie depicts one of them, Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), at home with his husband and son. Phastos and his husband also share a kiss on screen, which makes this the first time the MCU has featured a gay kiss in any of its films. The streaming series Loki prevously revealed its lead character played by Tom Hiddleston as bisexual through a line of dialogue, but the show hasn't depicted him in a same-sex relationship.
The Reporter writes that local censors in the Gulf region requested edits be made to Eternals, but Disney apparently declined to do so. When it comes to Kuwait and Qatar, Deadline reports the issue "may not solely be the same-sex kiss, but rather that overall these markets have historically had a problem with the depiction of gods and prophets, something they consider blasphemous." Eternals also features the first sex scene in an MCU film, which involves a heterosexual couple, and Deadline reports a version of the movie without any scenes of intimacy is expected to be released in the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt. In Russia, the film received a mature rating, the first for an MCU film.
Eternals director Chloé Zhao previously told IndieWire there was a "big desire from Marvel and myself" not to censor the movie for its release overseas, adding, "Fingers crossed."