Spoilers ahead. Angelina Jolie has said she is "proud" of Marvel for refusing to cut Eternals scenes showing a main character in a same-sex relationship.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the eagerly-anticipated superhero movie from Nomadland director Chloé Zhao will not be released in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Qatar because Marvel declined to make edits requested by local censors.
These edits are believed to have centred on scenes featuring Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), the MCU's first openly gay superhero, and his on-screen husband Ben (Haaz Sleiman). In the movie, they are shown bringing up a child together in a loving relationship. They also share an on-screen kiss.
Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, the countries understood to have requested the edits. Jolie, who co-stars in Eternals as a formidable superhero called Thena, told news.com.au: "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," she added. "How anybody is angry about it, threatened by it, doesn’t approve or appreciate it, is ignorant."
Zhao's movie, which opened in cinemas this weekend, is winning widespread praise for its across-the-board diversity. As well as the first gay superhero, it includes the MCU's first deaf superhero, Makkari, and the MCU’s first full-blown sex scene.
Actor Lauren Ridloff, who plays Makkari, told Refinery29 recently: "It was such a big moment for me to play not just a deaf superhero but also a deaf, Black, Mexican, female superhero. Even though Marvel has been around for a while, it’s only just recently that I’ve started seeing more representation of ourselves and feel a part of movies, especially with Black Panther and Shang-Chi."
Zhao added: "I feel it’s important that people that may look like us or communicate like us see themselves on screen, but also for people that have nothing in common with us. That they see Makkari and think: I am nothing like her but I understand her and I like her on the inside as a human being."