Kumail Nanjiani Responds to Critics of LGBTQ 'Eternals' Character: 'We're Upsetting the Right People'

Brian Tyree Henry's character Phastos in the upcoming Eternals is the first openly gay superhero in a Marvel movie

Kumail Nanjiani
Kumail Nanjiani. Photo: Marvel Studios

Kumail Nanjiani isn't concerned about criticism regarding LGBTQ representation in Marvel's Eternals.

The actor responded to Marvel fans who allegedly left negative reviews of the film on IMDb before its release in theaters, according to The Direct.

Some of the now-deleted complaints and negative reviews allegedly pertained to the change in the sexuality of Brian Tyree Henry's Phastos, who is the first openly gay superhero in a Marvel movie — but who was not in the comics.

Nanjiani, who stars in the film as one of the Eternals, tweeted a response to the news on Thursday. "Looks like we're upsetting the right people. Eternals opens November 5th," he wrote in the since-deleted tweet.

Nanjiani's own character was originally portrayed as a Japanese samurai in the comic books but was updated to be an Eternal posing as a Bollywood movie star.

In 2019, Marvel President Kevin Feige confirmed Henry's character was gay, making him the first with an LGBTQ storyline in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Haaz Sleiman Brian Tyree Henry
Haaz Sleiman and Brian Tyree Henry play Marvel's first gay couple on screen in Eternals. MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

"He's married, he's got a family and that is just part of who he is," Feige told Good Morning America at the D23 Expo in California.

In February 2020, actor Haaz Sleiman teased his upcoming on-screen kiss with costar Henry, telling NewNowNext that filming the Eternals love scene — Marvel's first LGBTQ kiss — was emotional for everyone on set. Sleiman plays the husband of Henry's Phastos.

"It's a beautiful, very moving kiss," said Sleiman. "Everyone cried on set."

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"For me, it's very important to show how loving and beautiful a queer family can be," Sleiman said. "Brian Tyree Henry is such a tremendous actor and brought so much beauty into this part, and at one point I saw a child in his eyes, and I think it's important for the world to be reminded that we in the queer community were all children at one point."

​​He continued: "We forget that because we're always depicted as sexual or rebellious; we forget to connect on that human part."

The movie also stars Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington, Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Lia McHugh, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan and Ma Dong-seok.

Eternals opens in movie theaters on Nov. 5.

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