Angelina Jolie is speaking up following reports that Marvel Studios's latest blockbuster, Eternals, won't screen in several Gulf nations, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, after local censors reportedly objected to its depiction of a same-sex relationship.
"I’m sad for [those audiences]" the Oscar-winning actress told the Australian outlet news.com.au during a roundtable interview on the movie's global press tour. Jolie — who plays the immortal hero, Thena, in the Chloé Zhao-directed film — went on to describe the decision to pull the movie from release as "ignorant."
"I’m proud of Marvel for refusing to cut those scenes out," Jolie added, echoing sources that told The Hollywood Reporter that Marvel and Disney declined to eliminate the storyline from the film. In Eternals, Bryan Tyree Henry's tech-savvy hero, Phastos, is happily married to a mortal man named Ben, played by Dubai-born actor Haaz Sleiman. At one point, the two characters share Marvel's first same-sex kiss, a moment that Sleiman called "life-saving" in a recent interview with Variety. (Homosexual conduct is still illegal in many Gulf countries.)
Commenting on the news, Jolie expressed frustration with the countries' refusal to show the film. "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 said. "How anybody is angry about it, threatened by it, doesn't approve or appreciate it is ignorant."
According to Deadline, Eternals will still play to audiences in other Gulf nations, including the United Arab Emirates — Sleiman's native country — as well as Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt. But audiences in those countries will reportedly see an altered version that removes scenes featuring both heterosexual and homosexual intimacy. Last year, the Disney/Pixar animated film Onward was banned in multiple Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, for featuring the studio's first LGBTQ character, voiced by Lena Waithe.
Eternals is currently playing in theaters