Marvel’s next movie, Eternals, is undoubtedly the most diverse and inclusive MCU installment yet in terms of its cast of characters. In particular, the film is home to two major firsts for the franchise. Lauren Ridloff’s Makkari is the MCU’s first ever deaf lead, while Brian Tyree Henry’s Phastos is its first ever LGBTQ+ hero. What’s more, Phastos, his husband and their young son will form the universe’s first LGBTQ+ family.
Unfortunately, anytime a major blockbuster has attempted even a little bit of queer representation in the past, it’s been met with fierce censorship in certain territories, including Russia and China. That might not be the case with Eternals, however, as director Chloé Zhao has revealed that Marvel Studios is dedicated to resisting calls to remove the scenes pertaining to Phastos and his family should they be faced with any. As Zhao told IndieWire:
“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.”
Zhao went on to tease the significance of Phastos’ husband and child to not only his character arc but also the movie’s themes, indicating why cutting them from the film just wouldn’t work.
“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,” she continued. “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.’”
The filmmaker added that she fought to have the moments between Phastos’ family “feel authentic and real” so that the audience could invest in them and what they mean to each other.
“To position that family in that specific situation and to have that moment feel authentic and real…the audience has to feel that to care. Otherwise, there’s no point in putting that onscreen because they don’t feel it.”
Disney has come under flak many times in recent years for featuring gay characters in minor, inconsequential roles that seemed deliberately done to make it easy for them to be censored – see Beauty and the Beast, Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. So it’s gratifying that this isn’t the case this time and Zhao put effort into giving Phastos and his family dpeth. Having said that, this movie is a busy one with a lot of characters so we should prepare for them to only have a certain amount of screentime.
Eternals opens in theaters on November 5th.