Despite pushback from censors in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar, Disney refuses to cut the same-sex couple featured in the upcoming Marvel superhero movie Eternals, per The Hollywood Reporter. The film, which was to open in the Gulf region on November 11, will not be premiering in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, or Qatar due to Disney’s refusal to bend to the countries’ anti-LGBTQIA+ laws.
Censors in several Persian Gulf countries requested edits to the film to cut a kiss between the character Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) and his husband Ben (Haaz Sleiman). As a result, the film is no longer listed as “coming soon” on various websites in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar. It is, however, still slated for release in the UAE.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, one theater chain said that the film was “banned” but would not give a reason. Though, as their reporting notes, homosexuality is still officially illegal throughout countries in the region.
Last month, Zhao told IndieWire that she spoke to Marvel about not editing the film to please censors. She said, “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. Fingers crossed.”
This wouldn’t be the first time Disney resisted censors who attempted to pressure the company to cut LGBTQIA+ content from their films. Last year, censors pushed to remove a scene from the Pixar animated film Onward that featured a single line referencing a lesbian relationship. Disney refused. Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia subsequently banned the movie from being released.
However, for Avengers: Endgame, Russian authorities cut the much-touted first gay character in the MCU, Grieving Man.
Directed by Oscar-winner Chloé Zhao, Eternals stars Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Harish Patel, and Kit Harington.
Eternals hits theaters in the U.S. on November 5.