The progress has started off slow, but in recent years the Marvel Cinematic Universe has begun to better represent the population of the world. Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther was an early indication of Marvel stepping into claiming more diversity and its massive success was proof that Wakanda was a missing element in the superhero genre audiences were craving. Last year, Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel became the first female-led MCU flick and coming this November is the biggest leap yet. The Eternals will feature the first openly gay Marvel character in the form of Brian Tyree Henry’s Phastos.
This isn’t just a big step for Marvel Studios, it could be a giant leap for LGBTQ representation in the movie industry. In recent years, more of the community has certainly started to be given the spotlight on film and television, but Marvel movies are the most highly-anticipated of the year. If the casual moviegoer goes to see two movies a year, chances are one of them from the MCU considering they, without fail, sit atop box office charts. It's major exposure and it makes an inclusive statement. But just who is Phastos?
Let’s get to know the character from the pages of Marvel Comics. It should be noted going forward that Phastos roots may not be reflected in The Eternals movie and since he’s a lesser-known character, significant changes from what we know may be found once the movie is released. Time to dive in:
Phastos Is Not An Original Eternals Character
If you decided to check out one of the early issues of The Eternals by Jack Kirby (opens in new tab), which debuted in 1976 you will not find Phastos in the original team. Phastos actually belongs to the third generation of the superhuman team. The character first appeared in a 1985 issue and was created by Peter B. Gillis and Sal Buscema. But still, Phastos does belong to the Eternals race who are a near-immortal race who were created by the Celestials thousands of years ago. The upcoming movie is the first Marvel film to span this amount of time and it will track their long lives throughout history.
Like The Rest Of The Eternals, Phastos Is Incredibly Powerful
As you can imagine from their title, Eternals are some of the most powerful teams in the universe. They can take the Guardians of the Galaxy without breaking a sweat, and quite possibly the Avengers too. Each of them can project cosmic energy from their eyes and hands, have superhuman strength, can self-heal, levitate themselves along with other objects and beings and are pretty much immortal. What separates Phastos from the pack is his genius-level intelligence who has the ability to create incredible weapons, and he’s a master technologist. Phastos is known for carrying around a hammer that can manipulate machinery in ways the power of the Eternals cannot.
In Ancient Greece Phastos Was Mistaken For Hephaestus
Since Phastos has been around for thousands of years, he was alive during Ancient Greece. In the comic books, he was often mistaken for the famous Greek God Hephaestus, who is the Olympian god of fire and metalworking. As you can imagine, back in the day when the Eternals used their powers the citizens of Greece immediately expected them to be the holy beings they worship. If you’re familiar with Greek mythology this comparison actually says a lot about who Phastos is. Like Hephaestus he’s a clever inventor and knows how to skillfully create a weapon. Plus, he is morally against war.
Phastos Opposed War Against The Deviants
Jumping off that last point on war, this is a trait of Phastos which defines him and has placed him at odds with the rest of the Eternals. In the comics, when the other members of the team were ready to go to war with the Deviants, he refuses to join Ikaris and the others. The Deviants are a race that were created by the Celestials at the same time they created the Eternals except they are much different. There are way more Deviants, they are hideous and have random physical mutations. In The Eternals movie, the story will revolve around the team reuniting against the Deviants. Will Phastos' morals remain the same in the movie?
Phastos Of Marvel Comics Believes Life Is Meaningless
Another distinguishing trait about Phastos is his approach to the world as a whole. The character to be played by Atlanta’s Brian Tyree Henry is pretty much a nihilist along with being a pacifist. Phastos is more reserved and grim than the rest of the group and he believes that life is meaningless. He does live in search for someone or something that can change his mind and show him the meaning of life. Perhaps this comes in the form of the husband and children he’ll have at some point during The Eternals movie?
Brian Tyree Henry’s Phastos Will Have A Husband And A Family
It has been confirmed that the Brian Tyree Henry’s Phastos will be the first openly gay character in the MCU and he’ll be married and have a family. Kevin Feige confirmed it back in August along with saying that it’ll be “just part of who he is”. Some of the best representation doesn’t explain the diversity it includes or give the identity a spotlight without giving the character something out of that to do and here’s hoping The Eternals does the same. It should be noted that Phastos’ gay sexuality is not part of the comics in any way but he is a small enough character in the universe for it not to be changing anything massive from the source material.
Who Is Playing Phastos’ Husband In Eternals?
It was revealed in February that Haaz Sleiman will be playing the husband of Brian Tyree Henry’s Phastos. Sleiman is an openly gay actor himself who is of Lebanese descent. He has starred in an episode of AppleTV+ series Little America (which fellow Eternals actor Kumail Nanjiani executive produced) and he was also in 2007’s The Visitor. It's uncommon for an openly gay man to play a gay man in a major studio film and could be an important moment of representation for the LGBTQ community. The actor confirmed the Eternals will feature “a moving kiss” between him and Phastos that had everyone on set crying. The couple will also have a child.
The Eternals comes to theaters on November 6, 2020.
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