Marvel’s latest film, Eternals, will reportedly not be screened in theaters in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Qatar likely due to its inclusion of a gay superhero and his husband—the first openly gay characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe—according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The Hollywood Reporter’s sources say the film was likely pulled due to the inclusion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) first same sex couple and its first openly gay superhero—Brian Tyree Henry’s character Phaston kisses his husband Ben (played by Haaz Sleiman) in the film.
The film was set to release in the Gulf region on November 11, but has been quietly removed from websites in the above countries.
The Hollywood Reporter says local censors had requested a series of edits that Disney and Marvel were not willing to make.
A regional theater chain said the film had been banned but wasn’t told why.
The film is still listed among upcoming titles in the United Arab Emirates.
Homosexuality is considered illegal in those three Gulf countries: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar. In Saudi Arabia, the legally prescribed punishment for same-sex sexual acts is the death penalty.
Disney has acquiesced to censorship demands from Middle Eastern countries in the past. A brief same-sex kiss was cut from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in the United Arab Emirates two years ago. A heterosexual kiss between Black Panther actors Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong’o was cut as well. Other non-Disney films featuring homosexuality like Brokeback Mountain, Carol and Freeheld were banned entirely in the Middle East.
What We Don’t Know
Disney has yet to respond to a request for comment from Forbes.
Early reviews for Eternals have not been kind—it has been marked the first “certified rotten” MCU film by Rotten Tomatoes.