Eternals Pulled in Saudi Arabia and Other Arab Countries Due To Gay Romance [Update: Angelina Jolie Responds]
Update 11/05 1:30pm PT: Following the news that some Arab countries have banned Eternals a week before it was set to premiere Angelina Jolie, who plays the Eternal Thena, has put out a statement decrying the move.
“I’m sad for [those audiences]. And I’m proud of Marvel for refusing to cut those scenes out,” Jolie said, confirming reports that Marvel declined to edit The Eternals for international release. “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.”
Jolie was speaking with Australia’s News.com while promoting The Eternals.
Original Story: Marvel’s Eternals features a lot of firsts, including the MCU’s first (PG-13) sex scene and first gay superhero. But these may have led several countries, including Saudi Arabia and its neighbors, to ban the latest Marvel movie ahead of its November 11 release date.
According to Variety, this appears to be a last-minute decision as the region has been promoting Eternals for the November release. But sources confirmed that Eternals will no longer be playing in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, though tickets are still available in the UAE.
Different regions will sometimes censor or alter movies for content that doesn’t fall in line with their local guidelines. In the case of several Arab nations, movies with sex, homosexuality, and possible religious issues, are cut to meet censorship rules.
According to Variety, Disney was unwilling to alter the movie to become compliant with local guidelines and has since been removed from their release schedules.
Eternals features Phastos, the first gay superhero in an MCU film. Played by Brian Tyree Henry, Phastos is seen living a domestic life with his husband and child when he’s recruited by the other Eternals to once again fend of the Deviants.
Other Marvel films like Black Widow and Shang-Chi: Legend of the Ten Rings have not been given release dates in key markets like China.
Check out IGN’s Eternals review for our take on the cosmic MCU adventure, or our Eternals explainer to help you get up to speed on Marvel’s newest heroes before the movie premiers in North America this weekend.
Matt T.M. Kim is IGN’s News Editor. You can reach him @lawoftd.