Eternals Director On Gay Characters Possibly Being Edited For International Markets

Brian Tyree Henry in Eternals
(Image credit: Disney)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe returned to theaters with Black Widow and Shang-Chi, and we’re mere days away from the newest release: Chloé Zhao’s Eternals. The blockbuster will feature the MCU’s most diverse cast yet, with Brian Tyree Henry bringing a queer superhero to life with Phastos. Zhao recently spoke to the possibility of gays characters being edited down for certain international markets. 

While audiences in the US have been calling for more on screen representation for underrepresented groups like LGBT folks, inclusion provides potential roadblocks for certain international markets where queerness isn’t accepted. Chloé Zhao was recently asked what she thought about characters like Phastos possibly having scenes cut for some countries, saying:

I don't know all the details but I do believe discussions were had and there's a big desire from Marvel and myself - we talked about this - to not change the cut of the movie. Fingers crossed. The way Phastos' story plays out in the film is that he's someone who only sees humanity as a whole and believes that technology's going to solve the problem. Obviously, he lost faith in us for some very tough things that we've done. And then he had to stop looking at us as a whole and look at one person he falls in love with, and one child, to regain the face of humanity. It's like us turning on the news and thinking it's completely hopeless and then going home, looking at our lover and our child and going like, 'Well actually this is worth fighting for.’

Touche. While Eternals hasn’t been released to wide theatrical audiences, it sounds like Brian Tyree Henry’s character is going to be pivotal to the titular group standing up and fighting for the human race. While the celestial beings might have been disassociated from their original mission, Phastos marries a man (Haaz Sleiman) and has a family. And just like that, he’s got added stakes in the fate of Earth.

The overall contents of Eternals are being kept under wraps, but the limited footage shows that the group of heroes have been on Earth for a long time. They eventually lost touch, and seemingly lost faith in humanity as mankind began killing each other and polluting the planet. But a new threat will unite this team of cosmic entities, with Phastos being especially connected to Earth and its people. You can check out the final trailer for Eternals below.

Chloé Zhao is an Oscar-winning filmmaker who clearly cares deeply about her work on Eternals. She doesn’t want to see the movie edited down for certain international markets, and it seems that Marvel Studio might have her back. But it remains to be seen if the studio’s arm eventually gets pulled by censorship organizations in markets overseas. Because Disney will presumably want Eternals on as many screens as possible.

The call for major LGBT characters to be present in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been going on for a few years now, with Kevin Feige promising change was coming. Eternals has an extremely diverse cast, including a variety of ethnicities and ages, a queer character, and the MCU’s first deaf superhero. We’ll just have to wait and see how the movie is distributed around the world, and how Chloé Zhao’s blockbuster influences the universe as a whole.

Eternals is currently expected to arrive in theaters on November 5th. In the meantime, check out the 2021 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.