If you listen really carefully, or browse IMDb, you can actually hear the dying screams of the old guard.

These are mostly howls of protest from white, male, heterosexual or the conservative religious right. Those who have been previously erased or reduced from pop culture are finally emerging to feature prominently in Disney and Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest offering, Eternals.

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There is no copping out, like on other outings when Disney promised gay representation and then chickened out, as in 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker. A much hyped “gay kiss” in that movie ended up being between two minor characters sharing a celebratory smooch in the background – hardly the ground breaking moment we were promised. 

And even that minor moment was cut for Singaporean audiences when Disney bowed to Singapore’s media regulatory agency, in order to get a more accessible rating for stronger ticket sales.  

But representation in Eternals is the real deal and not only limited to two loving men kissing.Which was awesome, by the way. The aforementioned gnashers of teeth on IMDb were also very concerned about the sheer diversity of representation on display!

IMDb were forced to take down negative reviews of the film (since it hadn’t even been released to audiences when these tragedies decided to jump online and prove how irrelevant they are) but the good folks at The Direct are happy to quote them for your enjoyment, or you can check out this reporting from the Star Observer when the murmurs first started in 2020.

Eternals Shows How Representation Is  Done

In the lead cast we have Asian faces, women leaders of Asian and Latino descent, a smart gay man of colour kissing his middle-eastern husband, a character questioning why they were made the way they are, interracial kissing, male superheroes who don’t look muscled, sad and hungry  and a sexy Bollywood heartthrob .

Now that’s diversity!

And it seems like Disney is here for it. They showed their commitment to the cause by refusing to cut the gay kiss from the film, resulting in Eternals being banned  in the countries that you would expect, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar.

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Out gay Lebanese actor Haaz Sleiman, who plays the husband of Phastos, the gay superhero, played by American actor Brian Tyree Henry, said he was brought close to tears when he heard about Disney’s refusal to cut the scenes featuring the gay storyline.

“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,” Sleiman said in an interview with Variety on Thursday.

“I have no respect for those governments,” Sleiman, said, adding, “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.”

Also commenting on the ban was Angelina Jolie, who plays Thena in the film, who said to news.com.au in a round table interview:

“How anybody is angry about it, threatened by it, doesn’t approve or appreciate it is ignorant. And I’m proud of Marvel for refusing to cut those scenes out… 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.”

Eternals

It is not surprising that Eternals is ground breaking in it’s representation, when you consider that it was directed by Chloé Zhao, a woman of Asian descent who also wrote the screenplay.

Zhao is only the second woman in history and the first Asian woman and the first woman of colour to win the Academy Awards Best Director gong in 2021 for Nomadland.

How many people who don’t look like the very handsome Richard Madden, one of the few cis gendered, white male actors in this film, will see Eternals and be inspired to greater things because they saw themselves represented on the big screen, saving the world?

If this is where we are headed when we have diverse talent helming movies, the world can only be a better place!

And the fact that the diversity and representation has finally been championed by Disney, the most gargantuan entertainment conglomerate on the planet, is a great start.

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