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‘Eternals’ Yanked From Release in Saudi Arabia and Other Arab Countries, Restricted in Singapore Due to Gay Superhero

Eternals
Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Marvel’s “Eternals,” which features the first MCU gay superhero, has been banned in Saudi Arabia and several other Arab countries ahead of its planned Nov. 11 rollout across the Gulf region.

Sources have confirmed that despite the film being publicized across the region on the websites of local multiplex chains, such as top local exhibitor Vox Cinemas, “Eternals” won’t be playing in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. However, tickets for the movie are currently available for purchase at Vox cinemas in the UAE.

Vox did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In the Arab world, movies concerning or containing sex, homosexuality and religious issues are routinely cut to comply with censorship rules. But in this case, it appears that Disney was either unwilling or unable make edits requested by censors.

Director Chloé Zhao has said in several interviews that she expressed to Marvel her desire not to alter the film, which marks the first time a Marvel Studios movie has showcased a same-sex couple — and one of the only times any superhero movie has included a title LGBTQ character.

Zhao has said that gay superhero Phastos (played by Brian Tyree Henry), who is married with a child in the movie, was already an integral part of Marvel Studios’ conception of the character when she first began discussing the film with the studio.

Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Eternals” opened on Wednesday in 14 international markets, including Korea, France, Germany and Italy. Thursday will see further openings in Australia, Brazil and Mexico as well as Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Portugal, Ukraine, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Argentina and all of the smaller Latin American territories.

The film was given an M18 rating in Singapore, by the InfoComm Media Development Authority, restricting it to audiences of 18-year-old and above. Though the “Deadpool” films also received M18 certificates, “Eternals” is the first title from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be classified at this level, after previous instalments were rated PG  or PG13.

“The film contains homosexual references. Under the Film Classification Guidelines, such depictions would be contained under the M18 rating,” the IMDA said in a statement. While same sex sexual relations are illegal in Singapore (even if consensual and conducted in private), the M18 rules for film and video allow “non-explicit depictions of mild sexual activity or acts of intimacy (e.g. kissing and hugging) between persons of the same gender.”

It is understood that the Singapore censor gave the distributor the opportunity to cut the offending scenes showing a same gender family unit and a same sex kiss in order to possibly obtain a lower rating.