Since Black Panther became a cultural phenomenon, box office success and Best Picture nominee at the Academy Awards, Marvel Studios has announced more of a focus on diversity. As Phase 4 soon approaches, audiences will see more of their identities represented on the big screen – namely with this fall’s The Eternals. The first major LGBTQ superhero was previously teased, and now we know who they will be.
Haaz Sleiman is an openly gay actor of Lebanese descent recently seen in AppleTV+ series Little America, which is executive produced by Eternals’ Kumail Nanjiani. Sleiman just revealed who the first same sex relationship in the MCU will be. In his words:
I just shot a Marvel film with the first openly gay superhero, The Eternals. I’m married to the gay superhero Phastos, played by Atlanta’s Brian Tyree Henry, and we represent a gay family and have a child.
Wow, this is big. Was he supposed to say that? Well, it doesn’t matter now, does it? Brian Tyree Henry will be playing the first gay superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Haaz Sleiman will be playing his husband. Henry’s character is Phastos, who is a weaponsmith and more reserved member of the Eternals team. But is a kiss happening? Here’s what Haaz Sleiman revealed to NewNowNext:
Oh, yeah, absolutely, and it’s a beautiful, very moving kiss. Everyone cried on set. For me it’s very important to show how loving and beautiful a queer family can be. Brian Tyree Henry is such a tremendous actor and brought so much beauty into this part, and at one point I saw a child in his eyes, and I think it’s important for the world to be reminded that we in the queer community were all children at one point. We forget that because we’re always depicted as sexual or rebellious. We forget to connect on that human part.
It sounds like that was a beautiful moment and a particularly emotional day on the set of The Eternals. Same sex kisses or relationships in general have often been avoided on the big screen in mainstream films, especially for studios such as Disney or in the widely-watched comic book genre. Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker had a same-sex kiss, but it was very blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment.
During Avengers: Endgame, Joe Russo cameoed as the MCU’s first openly gay character. However, some fans had some gripes with it. The character didn’t even have a name and the LGBTQ community is hoping openly gay actors will get to take part in representing them on screen. With the casting of Haaz Sleiman as Phastos’ husband, it finally looks to be happening.
Gay Arab men are rarely given a face in mainstream media, and now it’s happening in The Eternals. But, just how much? The upcoming epic is packed with a massive cast including Angelina Jolie’s Thena, Richard Madden’s Ikaris, Salma Hayek’s Ajak, Kumail Nanjiani’s Kingo, Gemma Chan’s Sersei and so forth. Lauren Ridloff is also playing the MCU's first deaf superhero, Makkari.
Additionally, Tessa Thompson has defined her character of Valkyrie as a bisexual woman. After she was dubbed King of Asgard by Thor in Avengers: Endgame, she will “find her queen” in Thor: Love and Thunder.
The Eternals recently wrapped filming and will hit theaters on November 6.