Actor Angelina Jolie is pushing back against news that some countries have banned her latest Marvel movie, “Eternals,” over its depiction of a same-sex relationship, calling the decision “ignorant.”
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal, pulled the film from theaters last week after Marvel refused to remove scenes showing a same-sex relationship and a kiss shared between actors Brian Tyree Henry and Haaz Sleiman, The Hollywood Reporter reported.
“I’m proud of Marvel for refusing to cut those scenes out,” Jolie, who plays the warrior Thena in the film, told the Australian news outlet news.com.au during a press roundtable. “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,” she said.
In the film, Phastos, played by Henry, is married to Ben, played by Sleiman, and share Marvel’s first on-screen same-sex kiss. They also have a son together in the film.
In an interview with Variety last week, Sleiman, who moved to the U.S. from Lebanon at 21 and came out as gay in 2017, said he was close to tears when he learned Disney, who owns Marvel, had “stood its ground” and declined to cut out the scenes.
“It made these Arab countries look so ignorant and pathetic,” he said. “They have displayed to the world that they are not only a disgrace to humanity, but to God. Hopefully this will inspire the Saudi people, the Kuwaiti people and the people in Qatar to fight back.”
Disney’s decision runs counter to Hollywood’s past of making cuts to its movies for release in countries with different censorship rules. References to Queen frontman Freddie Mercury’s sexuality in the 2018 film “Bohemian Rhapsody” were removed to placate censors in China.
It’s also a big step for Marvel, which has previously been criticized for its slow integration of LGBTQ characters into its films. An unnamed gay character briefly appears in “Avengers: Endgame” and Tom Hiddleston’s “Loki” was retroactively revealed as bisexual in his spinoff Disney+ series of the same name earlier this year.
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