Hours before its premiere in Egypt, Marvel’s latest blockbuster film ‘Eternals’ was reportedly banned for depicting same-sex relationships.
Posting on Facebook, IMAX Egypt announced that it will no longer be showing Eternals, despite having shared a trailer for it promoting tickets just hours earlier. Another cinema in Mansoura, GaLaxy Cinema, said on Facebook that it would no longer be showing the film as it had been ‘banned’.
Other cinemas across Egypt have also removed references to Eternals.
According to Al-Masry Al-Youm and Youm7, a last-minute decision was made by Egypt’s censorship authority banning the showing of the film. The decision is reportedly due to the film’s depiction of a gay superhero and scenes featuring same-sex romance, which sources speaking to Youm7 said ‘contradict the values’ of Egyptian society. No public statement has been released by authorities officially confirming the ban.
Starring Angelina Jolie, Kit Harrington, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Gemma Chan, Brian Tyree Henry, Don Lee and Lia McHugh, ‘Eternals’ is Marvel’s latest film and follows a race of immortal beings with superhuman powers who have secretly lived on Earth for thousands of years.
The Chloé Zhao-directed film marks the first time the Marvel Cinematic Universe has included a gay starring superhero. Portrayed by Brian Tyree Henry, ‘Phastos’ is a superhero who appears in Eternals and is married to ‘Ben’ who is depicted by Haaz Sleiman. Sleiman, who is of Lebanese origin, is also openly gay.
In recent days, Eternals has made headlines across the Middle East region after it was banned in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. In statements, Angelina Jolie said that the attitudes behind such bans were “ignorant”.
“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,” said Jolie to news.com.au.
“How anybody is angry about it, threatened by it, doesn’t approve or appreciate it is ignorant”.
In separate comments to Variety, Sleiman said Disney was asked to censor the film ahead of its ban.
“They stood their ground and said, ‘Nope, we are not going to compromise the integrity of our film. It made these Arab countries looks so ignorant and pathetic,” said Sleiman to Variety.
Censorship of Hollywood films in Egypt is not uncommon. In recent years, a number of films have been released in Egyptian cinemas with romantic scenes and other scenes deemed ‘contradictory to societal values’ being cut. Meanwhile, in 2006, the Da Vinci Code was banned in Egypt for offending Christians.