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Eternals: Egypt bans Marvel film from cinemas

Following removal from screens in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Marvel film is pulled due to depiction of a same-sex relationship
Marvel Studios' Eternals showing on 18 October 2021 in Hollywood, California (AFP)

The Egyptian screening of Marvel superhero film Eternals was cancelled on Tuesday, just as it was due to hit the screens nationwide, after a number of Gulf countries pulled the film from cinemas reportedly for its depiction of a same-sex couple.

The news broke when one of the region's largest exhibitors, IMAX, declared on Facebook that the film would not be screened in Egypt, without providing any other information.

An IMAX cinema official stated simply that he knew the film "contained scenes that are not worth showing, and the film’s distributors refused to delete them after a controversy with censorship, so the decision was not to show in Egypt unless the scenes were deleted", Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported. The film was scheduled to be shown on Wednesday.

The decision to cancel the screening is not the first in the Arab world - Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait all recently banned Eternals and quietly withdrew it from cinemas.

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While no formal declarations have been made, sources indicated to the Hollywood Reporter that local censors requested the removal of intimate scenes from the film, a request that was rejected by Disney.

According to sources, the censors were unhappy about the inclusion of Marvel's first same-sex couple and displays of intimacy between them, and depictions of god-like beings.

The Marvel film depicts an immortal race of powerful beings who had remained undetected to humanity until they were summoned to protect Earth from the Deviants, an alien threat. 

The film stars a diverse cast, including Marvel's first deaf superhero, as well as characters played by Lebanese actor Haaz Sleiman and Brian Tyree Henry, who play a gay couple who have a son together. 

The film's prohibition in the Gulf and Egypt is thought to have been caused by the couple's onscreen kiss, given that homosexuality is still illegal in these countries. 

American actress Angelina Jolie last week stated that she felt "sad" for the viewers who will not be able to see the film, noting that "How anybody is angry about it, threatened by it, doesn’t approve or appreciate it is ignorant."

The current ban on Eternals follows a refusal from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt to distribute Pixar's Onward in 2020 due to a passing mention of a lesbian relationship.

Eternals will be reportedly released in the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Lebanon on the condition that scenes depicting any form of intimacy between characters will be removed.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.