Marvel’s Eternals will not hit cinema screens in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Qatar, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The all-star superhero film, which was due for release across the Gulf region on Nov. 11, is understood to have been met with a series of edit requests by the local censors, edits that THR has heard Disney were not willing to make.
The news emerged on Thursday, with Eternals having been quietly been removed from websites in each of those countries. In the United Arab Emirates, however, the film is still listed as among the titles coming soon.
Sources suggest the decision was likely made over the inclusion of a same-sex couple in the film and the MCU’s first gay superhero. In one scene, the character Phaston (played by Brian Tyree Henry) and his on-screen husband Ben (Haaz Sleiman) share a passionate kiss. Homosexuality is still officially illegal across the Gulf.
Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the 26th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film was directed by Chloé Zhao, who wrote the screenplay with Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo, and Kaz Firpo. It stars an ensemble cast including Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Harish Patel, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie. In the film, the Eternals, an immortal alien race, emerge from hiding after thousands of years to protect Earth from their evil counterparts, the Deviants.
Despite early buzz (mostly generated by its all star cast) Eternals is limping into theaters with poor word of mouth from critics and the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score of any MCU film to date.