From the IMDB review-bombing to Marvel’s announcement that they would not be cutting scenes offending countries where homosexuality is illegal or doesn’t follow its religious beliefs, and to the ever-plummeting reviews, Eternals is up against it all on it’s opening day today. During a press roundtable, which news.com.au attended, Angelina Jolie, who portrays Thena, an Eternal warrior, responded to the Gulf countries banning the film.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar had banned the film reportedly due to its gay content. Angelina Jolie says, “I’m sad for [those audiences]. And I’m proud of Marvel for refusing to cut those scenes out. I still don’t understand how we live in a world today where there’s still [people who] would not see the family Phastos has and the beauty of that relationship and that love. How anybody is angry about it, threatened by it, doesn’t approve or appreciate it is ignorant.”
Brian Tyree Henry, who portrays Phastos, Marvel’s first openly gay superhero, showing his family, his partner and their son, shares Marvel’s first on-screen same sex kiss with actor Haaz Sleiman. Sleiman expressed his feelings of being a part of the historic moment.” 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.”
Eternals director Chloe Zhao spoke last month concerning Marvel editing the film to accommodate the conservative audiences, 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.”
She got her wish, as Marvel is standing by their film, despite pushback, not only from the critics, but from entire nations. While some parties have taken the backlash as a sign of homophobia, most critics featured in publications from The New York TImes to The Chicago Tribune are not phased by Phastos’ family or the kiss.
Christy Lemire at rogerebert.com echoed what many lauded critics had to say. “It is, in short, a bit of a mess. It is also-and I cannot stress this enough-2 hours and 37 minutes long. And yet because the talented, eclectic cast is so enormous and so much world-building must occur, Eternals ultimately feels rushed and unsatisfying. The mythology here is both dense and frequently silly, with the movie grinding to a halt around the one-hour mark for an extensive information dump. By the end, you may still be unclear as to what’s going on, but you also may not care.”
Plummeting to 50% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of print, down from 53% yesterday, it appears the opinions are equally split. Only one way to find out! Eternals is in theaters today.