The upcoming blockbuster, Marvel Studios’ Eternals, features an openly gay superhero and anticipation in the LGBTQ+ community is high, particularly because of the introduction of Phastos, his husband, and the couple’s son. However, it’s clear that not everyone feels the same about more representation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As first reported by The Direct, homophobic trolls are already out in full force, bombarding the Eternals IMDb page with reviews focusing on the film’s queer content just a week before the film hits theaters.
Following the events of 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, the Eternals will introduce a new team of superheroes to the MCU, a group of ancient aliens who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years. But when their most ancient enemy, the Deviants, arrive on Earth, the Eternals are forced out of the shadows. Eternals director Chloé Zhao gathered an all-star ensemble cast, including Gemma Chan as the human-loving Sersi, Richard Madden as the all-powerful Ikaris, Lia McHugh as the illusion-obsessed Sprite, Kumail Nanjiani as Bollywood star Kingo, Lauren Ridloff as the first Deaf MCU hero Makkari, Barry Keoghan as the rebel Druig, Don Lee as the powerful Gilgamesh, Brian Tyree Henry as the gay inventor Phastos, Salma Hayek as the team’s spiritual leader Ajak, and Angelina Jolie as the warrior Thena, with Kit Harington as Dane Whitman, the future Black Knight.
In Eternals, Phastos is married to another man, and the couple has a child together. The movie marks the first major gay character in a Marvel Studios feature film. But don’t buy the hype, this has happened in Marvel films before, albeit unsuccessfully (remember the Endgame debacle), as well as in previously Fox-owned properties like Deadpool, which introduces the queer relationship between Brianna Hildebrand’s Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Shioli Kutsuna’s Yukio. That being said, the first queer kiss in a major Marvel Studios film is something to celebrate, not troll.
In February 2020, Eternals actor Haaz Sleiman, who came out in 2017, revealed how important it was to him as an actor to be a part of Marvel’s first openly gay couple:
“Oh, yeah, absolutely, and it’s a beautiful, very moving kiss. 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 were 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.”
Many fans have openly embraced the inclusion of an out, gay superhero onscreen and are eagerly awaiting the long-promised queer kiss in a Marvel movie. However, just like the “review bombing” that happened with Captain Marvel in 2019, the Eternals IMDb page is being flooded with negative reviews from people who couldn’t have seen the film yet. But to the angry anti-Marvel trolls, who have a different idea about the importance of representation on screen, they don’t need to see the film to protest the inclusion of queer characters onscreen, and they have taken to the IMDb review page to voice their homophobia.
Anti-LGBTQ+ protestors are “review bombing” the film on IMDb. According to The Direct, around 450 one-star reviews were posted to the Eternals IMDb page, despite the fact the film has yet to be released. Before the angry Eternals reviews were removed from IMDb, Pink News penned a roundup of some of the now-deleted posts on the IMDb page. One anti-progress troll, who, let’s remember, hasn’t seen the movie, wrote, “If woke and mediocre would be given a medal, this would win. C’mon Marvel, this was cheap even for you.”
Another troll posted to the Eternals IMDb page that the movie is “sucky” and that Marvel was simply trying to “tick all the Hollywood woke boxes,” by including a queer character. Since the Marvel Studios film updated the Eternals from the all-white cast of heroes penned by Jack Kirby, the troll-reviewer added: “Totally unrecognizable from the comics. Don’t waste your money, it’s not worth it.” It should be noted that Kirby, Stan Lee, and other members of the Marvel Bullpen always encouraged more diversity, not less.
IMDb has since decided to remove the negative posts entirely, citing the fact that there was no way the reviewers could have actually seen the film. The website added that most of the reviews seemed to center around queer representation onscreen, and not the quality of the movie itself, which has so far received mixed reviews from critics. But with a company notorious for backing out of doing the right thing (like including more representation on screen) because it causes too much controversy, queer fans are rightfully worried that this may spell doom for the future LGBTQ+ representation in Marvel films. One disappointed Twitter user said, “Hopefully this doesn’t stop Marvel from including more LGBTQ+ characters in the future.”
Kevin Feige and Nate Moore are the producers for Eternals, with Victoria Alonso, Louis D’Esposito, and Kevin de la Noy serving as executive producers. Also on the film, Ryan Firpo and Kaz Firpo, who wrote the screen story, and Patrick Burleigh, who wrote the screenplay, along with Zhao, Firpo, and Firpo. Eternals arrives in theaters on November 5th, 2021. This story comes to us from The Direct with additional details from Pink News.