Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek’s new Marvel blockbuster Eternals won’t be released in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman, due to censorship issues.
The film was scheduled to open throughout the Middle East on November 11, but cinema bosses have been told they won’t be able to show the movie.
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It’s not clear what issues the censors in the region had with the film, but they most likely revolve around a same sex kiss between Marvel’s first openly gay superhero, Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), and on-screen husband Ben (Haaz Sleiman).
“It’s a beautiful, very moving kiss,” Sleiman told Indiewire. “Everyone cried on set. For me it’s very important to show how loving and beautiful a queer family can be.”
Deadline sources said Disney/Marvel bosses refused to make all the edits that censors in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman were seeking and as a result distribution certificates weren’t issued.
Jolie, who plays the warrior Thena, told reporters in Australia, “I’m proud of Marvel for refusing to cut those scenes out.
“I still don’t understand how we live in a world today where there’s still (people who) would not see the family Phastos has and the beauty of that relationship and that love.
“How anybody is angry about it, threatened by it, doesn’t approve or appreciate it is ignorant.”
Homosexuality remains illegal in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait.
Meanwhile, the film will be released in the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt with all scenes of intimacy edited out.
Eternals was co-written and directed by Chloe Zhao, whose last movie, Nomadland , won Academy Awards for Zhao, star Frances McDormand and as best picture of 2020. Zhao is just the second woman to solo-direct a Marvel movie, after Black Widow ’s Cate Shortland. But she’s also the latest in a list of (relatively) low budget filmmakers to be handed the reins of an MCU project.
It’s hard to tell if Zhao pushed back against the Marvel machine, says National Post movie reviewer Chris Knight, but if she did it was too little and too late. Between all the requisite exposition, character interactions (some of the Eternals don’t play well with others) and a few punchy-punchy battles en route to a we’ll-be-back conclusion and a couple of jaw-dropping end-credit scenes, there’s precious little room to put a personal stamp on this one.
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