Marvel's Eternals will reportedly be banned from release in certain countries - a list which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar. Eternals was scheduled to be released in the Gulf region on November 11th, but things allegedly hit a wall when "local censors" made a series of "edit requests" - edits that Disney was allegedly unwilling to make. Eternals has reportedly vanished from websites in those aforementioned countries - although it is reportedly still listed as "coming soon" in the United Arab Emirates. Although no when is confirming the reason, there are "sources" which suggest the inclusion of a same-sex kiss in Eternals was a scene that censors wanted to remove.
One of the characters in Eternals is Phastos, who is played by Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse). Phastos is a master engineer and inventor, whose advanced knowledge helps guide humanity's technological evolution (for better or worse). However, after seeing how savagely mankind uses is his gifts, Phastos finds renewed hope for humanity by settling down and forming a human family unit with his husband Ben and son. It's been no secret that part of Phastos' story will include an onscreen kiss with his husband - the first same-sex kiss ever in Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise.
The Gulf region is still an area with homosexuality is deemed illegal, so it's not a major leap in logic to surmise that movie authorities of that culture wanted the LGBTQ+ inclusion in Eternals to be censored, while Disney knew what kind of major PR controversy could ensue if the edits were made. That's all speculation, though; Disney has not yet commented on the matter publicly, while one Gulf Region movie theater chain reportedly stated that they got word Eternals had been "banned" with no reason given why. As the Gulf Region becomes part of a more globalized culture, there seems to be a delicate balance between sharing in mainstream popular culture and adhering to cultural and/or political traditions (see also: China).
This ban may not put the biggest dent in Eternals box office forecast - but it's also not helpful. The film is officially the worst-reviewed film in the MCU, having earned the franchise's only "Rotten" score on review aggregate site, Rotten Tomatoes. That ominous start has analysts wondering if Eternals could end up also being one of Marvel's lowest-earning films at the box office: divisive reviews aren't a great start, and the film clocking in at 2 hours and 37 minutes means that moviegoers may be looking for the promise of a good experience before committing. Unless there is a massive wave of good word-of-mouth to carry the film...
Marvel's Eternals begins preview night showings in theaters everywhere, tonight.