Marvel’s Eternals have been banned from theaters in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar. Before the ban, the film was set to premiere on November 11th in these countries as part of the film’s global rollout across the Gulf region.
In sources confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter, several edit requests were made by local censors that were denied by Disney. Though Eternals has been removed from websites in each of the previously mentioned countries, it is still listed among titles coming soon with tickets available to purchase in the United Arab Emirates. Vox Cinemas, the top local exhibitor in the region, has not released a comment on the situation.
According to sources, the decision to pull the movie from theaters was due to the inclusion of a same-sex couple in the film. One half of the couple is Phastos, the MCU’s first gay superhero. Phastos is played by Brian Tyree Henry, and his husband Ben is portrayed by Haaz Sleiman. In the film, the two share a passionate on-screen kiss. Homosexuality is still illegal in many countries across the Gulf, leading films with LGBTQ+ representation to be pulled frequently.
In several interviews, director Chloé Zhao has expressed her desire to not alter the film, especially scenes with Phastos, his husband, and their son. “To position that family in that specific situation and to have that moment feel authentic and real…the audience has to feel that to care.” Zhao stated in an interview with IndieWire, “Otherwise, there’s no point in putting that onscreen because they don’t feel it.”
Neither Disney nor Marvel Studios have released a statement on the Eternal’s pull from cinemas across the Gulf. Eternals is set to release on November 5 in the United States.