Marvel Studios has made no secret that its upcoming fall tentpole “The Eternals” will feature its first openly gay superhero. In a new interview with Logo, “Eternals” actor Haaz Sleiman reveals his character is one half of the gay couple that appears in the movie. Sleiman says his character is “married to the gay superhero Phastos, played by ‘Atlanta’s’ Brian Tyree Henry, and we represent a gay family and have a child.” Marvel’s parent company Disney has promised significant gay moments in past tentpoles only for them to not be too explicit (who can forget the live-action “Beauty and the Beast” remake?), but Sleiman promises significant gay representation in “The Eternals.” The actor says the Chloe Zhao-directed superhero film will show Marvel’s first gay kiss.
“It’s a beautiful, very moving kiss,” Sleiman says. “Everyone cried on set. For me it’s very important to show how loving and beautiful a queer family can be. 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 we’re all children at one point. We forget that because we’re always depicted as sexual or rebellious. We forget to connect on that human part.”
The last Marvel release, “Avengers: Endgame,” faced backlash after the Russo brothers announced the movie would feature the MCU’s first openly gay character. That character ended up being played by Joe Russo and appeared in less than one minute of the movie. Fans criticized the directors for touting representation in the MCU when in reality the character was nameless and insignificant to the film’s plot. A similar backlash met “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” for its extremely brief same-sex kiss near the end of the film, after J.J. Abrams had touted “LGBT representation” in the film. It appears such criticisms won’t be lobbied at “The Eternals” as Brian Tyree Henry’s openly gay character Pastos is one of the main roles. The cast also includes Gemma Chan, Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, and Salma Hayek.
The MCU’s gay future might also include Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie. The character made her franchise debut in “Thor: Ragnarok,” and the actress revealed after the film opened that her character is bisexual. When asked this week by Variety if Valkyrie will be “explicitly queer” in the next “Thor” movie (“Thor: Love and Thunder”), writer-director Taika Waititi said he’s open to the idea.
“I think so,” Waititi responded. “The IP is not mine. But with the actors, I feel whatever makes them comfortable — whether they feel like there’s a natural choice, or a natural way for that character to go — then I’m pretty supportive. If Tessa wanted to do that, I’m in.”
Disney is releasing “The Eternals” in theaters nationwide November 6.
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