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Chloé Zhao Spoke to Marvel About Not Censoring Scenes From ‘Eternals’ Overseas

Eternals will be the first MCU film to feature an openly gay superhero with Phastos who specializes in weapons and technology.

Eternals director Chloé Zhao recently spoke to Marvel about not censoring the upcoming superhero epic for international audiences. Eternals is the latest film in MCU’s Phase 4. The movie will introduce a new race of cosmic beings into the Marvel universe. The film premiered in Los Angeles on October 18th and is slated to release on November 5th in the US. Additionally, Eternals will be the first MCU film to feature an openly gay superhero with Phastos (played by Brian Tyree Henry), the Eternal who specializes in weapons and technology.

According to Zhao, Phastos’ s*xuality was already a part of the story before she was brought on as a director. His character follows his feelings on humanity and how he stays connected to them through a human he falls in love with as well as his deep affection for a human child. The family narrative is one Zhao is quite familiar with as evident by her past films, Songs My Brother Taught Me and The Rider. However, censorship is also something Zhao has dealt with for the releases and coverage of The Rider and her Oscar-winning film, Nomadland.

Although, in discussions with Marvel, Zhao has said that they both expressed the desire not to censor Phastos’ gay moments for international audiences. Zhao didn’t clarify any particular audiences she was worried about but did refer to a specific scene that is also an MCU first. Following the world premiere, Eternals caught the attention of journalists for a brief s*x scene between two main characters. The scene was also already in the script before Zhao’s involvement. Zhao stressed the importance of Phastos’ s*xuality to his character arc and the film’s overall themes of family and humanity.

Chloé Zhao recently said, “For us to be able to show two people who love each other, not just emotionally and intellectually but also physically, and to have a s*x scene that will be seen by a lot of people that shows their love and compassion and gentleness. I think it’s a really beautiful thing.”

However, Eternals wouldn’t be the first Marvel film to be censored, as Logan, Captain America: Civil War, and Iron Man 3 were all altered for Chinese audiences. Zhao was born in Beijing, and Chinese box office returns contribute largely to Disney’s success. Recently released films like Mulan and Shang-Chi: The Legend of the Ten Rings, which highlight stories about Chinese characters, have faced controversy in those markets as well. Mulan was very poorly appreciated by Chinese audiences and Shang Chi’s Chinese release has been delayed indefinitely. Eternals’ Chinese release date is currently uncertain, due to both tensions with Disney and Zhao herself.

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Marvel may accordingly take a step with Eternals, despite Zhao’s wishes. The film is rated PG-13 for “fantasy violence and action, some language and brief s*xuality,” so worries about the graphic nature of the intimate scene are likely unfounded. Meanwhile, phase 4 has shown Marvel is willing to take some risks with its future projects. Eternals includes ensembles cast and set to hit theatres on November 5.

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