'Eternals' Features Gay Superhero, Gets 18+ 'Mature' Rating in Russia

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday September 27, 2021

Brian Tyree Henry plays Phastos, an openly gay, and married, superhero, in 'Eternals'
Brian Tyree Henry plays Phastos, an openly gay, and married, superhero, in 'Eternals'  (Source:Screenshot/Marvel Studios)

Violent action sequences and epic sci-fi action might get an MCU movie a PG-13 rating in the United States. But in Russia, the depiction of an openly gay superhero — especially if he's married to another man — was enough to get Marvels' upcoming "Eternals" labeled with a "Mature" rating, meaning that the movie cannot be seen in theaters by anyone under the age of 18.

"Eternals stands to be among the MCU's most diverse projects yet," ScreenRant said, going on to detail that the film will have the MCU's "first openly gay character" — discounting, of course, the nameless LGBTQ+ character who supposedly appeared in "Avengers: End Game" for a few seconds, and the flirtatious moment in "Black Panther" between Ayo (Florence Kasumba) and Okoye (Danai Gurira), that was reportedly left on the cutting room floor.

ScreenRant added: "Brian Tyree Henry plays Phastos, one of the Eternals who creates the team's weapons and tech. He's confirmed to be married to another man, and the two will reportedly share a kiss onscreen."

"After years of fans calling for genuine LGBTQ representation in the MCU, 'Eternals' has the potential to be a major step forward," the article added.

In Russia, any public expression of support for, or acknowledgement of, LGBTQ+ people and their committed relationships is verboten, thanks to the country's "no homo promo" law from 2013. The law presumes that it's somehow harmful for children to see or hear that anyone other than straight, cisgender people exist in the world.

By comparison, "most MCU films receive a 12+ ('The Avengers,' 'Ant-Man and the Wasp') or a 16+ ('Avengers: Endgame,' 'Black Widow') in Russia, making 'Eternals' the first to go higher," ScreenRant added.

"The country has done this before over gay content in movies, as it gave Power Rangers an 18+ rating as well in 2017."

Thankfully, American audiences won't have to deal with quite that level of content policing. In America, the film is set to receive a PG-13 rating, which, Deseret News notes, "is pretty common for Marvel films."

"The film received the ranking due to 'fantasy violence and action, some language, and brief sexuality,'" Deseret News added, noting that those rationales are fairly standard for the MCU films' ratings — except for the bit about the "brief sexuality," that is since, as ScreenRant points out, "the franchise has largely stayed away from sexual content, which raises eyebrows about this new rating."

Specifically, as The Direct reported, that same-sex kiss is thought to be what's meant. "The MPAA has been historically behind the times, having been a lot more strict and biased against LGBTQIA+ relationships," the entertainment news site said.

"Eternals" will be the 24th film in the MCU canon, and the third of the MCU's "Phase Four" films (after "Black Widow" and "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings").

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.