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Angelina Jolie has spoken out about the news that Eternals was pulled from release in several Gulf nations over the inclusion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first openly gay superhero, saying she was proud of the studio for refusing to bow to censors.
As first reported by The Hollywood Reporter on Nov. 4, Marvel’s all-star superhero title was banned in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, where it was due for release Nov. 11, after local censors made several requests for edits that Disney was not prepared to make. Sources suggested the decision was made over the inclusion of the MCU’s first same-gender couple — Phastos (played by Brian Tyree Henry) and his onscreen husband, Ben (Haaz Sleiman) — and a scene in which they share a kiss.
“I’m sad for [those audiences]. And I’m proud of Marvel for refusing to cut those scenes out,” said Jolie, speaking to Australian website News.com.au about the situation during a junket on Nov. 5.
“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.”
Despite the ban having sparked numerous headlines, Eternals was widely expected to face a kickback by censors in the Gulf, where homosexuality is still officially illegal and films containing anything related to LGBTQ issues are frequently pulled from release. Last year, the Pixar title Onward was banned in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia over a solitary line referencing a lesbian relationship.
The Eternals decision has not, however, impacted its release in the United Arab Emirates, where it is still due to hit cinemas Nov. 11.
GLAAD praised the Eternals on Friday for “changing the game for what it means to be a superhero on screen in ways that audiences around the world will applaud.” In a statement, president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, added, “GLAAD’s Studio Responsibility Index reports have shown a trend of few LGBTQ characters in major studio releases, a majority of which receive less than three minutes of screentime. But the characters of Phastos, his husband and their son play critical roles in Eternals that will set a new standard for LGBTQ inclusion across the genre.”
Nov. 5, 11:30 a.m. Updated to include GLAAD statement.
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