GLAAD Praises 'Eternals' for 'Changing the Game' by Bringing LGBTQ Representation to MCU

Eternals features the first LGBTQ superhero in the MCU, which "will set a new standard for LGBTQ inclusion across the genre," according to GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis

Photo: Marvel/Youtube

After a couple years of teasing the introduction of their first LGBTQ superhero, Marvel delivered with their latest blockbuster, Eternals.

The movie has earned praise from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) for the inclusion of gay character Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), as well as his husband Ben (Haaz Sleiman) and their son Jack (Esai Daniel Cross).

"With the introduction of the first LGBTQ superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Eternals is changing the game for what it means to be a superhero on screen in ways that audiences around the world will applaud," said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement.

"GLAAD's Studio Responsibility Index reports have shown a trend of few LGBTQ characters in major studio releases, a majority of which receive less than three minutes of screentime, but the characters of Phastos, his husband, and their son play critical roles in Eternals that will set a new standard for LGBTQ inclusion across the genre," Ellis continued.

According to the Studio Responsibility Index, only ten theatrically released films from eight major studios featured LGBTQ characters in 2020. In 2019, the last year not affected by COVID, only 22 of the 118 major studio films featured LGBTQ characters, with more than half of those characters receiving less than three minutes of screentime.

Sleiman, 45, an openly gay actor, recently opened up to Variety about the importance of such characters on the big screen. "Beyond a dream come true, it's life-saving," he said of the role.

Marvel Eternals
Marvel Studios

"I wish I had that when I was a kid to see this. My god," Sleiman added. "I wish! Can you imagine how many lives this is going to be saving — kids, young queer folk, who are being bullied, committing suicide, and not seeing themselves being represented? And now they get to see this — it's above and beyond."

Although Eternals has received praise from some over its LGBTQ inclusion, the movie has been banned in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar, likely for the same reason. After local sensors in the Gulf countries, where homosexuality is illegal, requested certain edits be made, Disney refused.

Angelina Jolie, who makes her MCU debut in Eternals as Thena, has expressed her disappointment over the movie's ban in those countries. "I'm sad for [those audiences]. And I'm proud of Marvel for refusing to cut those scenes out," Jolie, 46, told Australia's

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"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 added. "How anybody is angry about it, threatened by it, doesn't approve or appreciate it is ignorant."

Kumail Nanjiani, who plays Kingo, also defended the film in a since-deleted tweet. "Looks like we're upsetting the right people. Eternals opens November 5th," Nanjiani, 43, wrote last week.

See Marvel's Eternals, now in theaters.

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