In an important milestone for the franchise, The Eternals will feature Marvel's first LGBTQ+ kiss, as per People. The Eternals will star Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, the first openly-gay superhero in a Marvel movie, and Haaz Sleiman, who will star as Phastos' husband. After more than a decade of superhero movies, the two characters will be the first LGBTQ+ relationship featured in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
On Thursday, Sleiman teased his kiss in Eternals during an interview with NewNowNext, saying, "it’s a beautiful, very moving kiss." The Little America star added that filming the scene made for an emotional moment. "Everyone cried on set," Sleiman said. "For me it’s very important to show how loving and beautiful a queer family can be."
Sleiman went on to praise Henry's performance as Phastos, saying the Atlanta actor, "brought so much beauty to this part." He went on to note how important The Eternals will be for LGBTQ+ representation, stating, "I think it’s important for the world to be reminded that we in the queer community were all children at one point." He added: "We forget that because we’re always depicted as sexual or rebellious. We forget to connect on that human part."
Back in January, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige discussed LGBTQ+ representation in the MCU, and confirmed The Eternals would have an openly gay character, according to Entertainment Weekly "He’s married, he’s got a family, and that is just part of who he is," Feige said, several months earlier during the D23 Expo.
Henry and Sleiman's characters will join the MCU amid a push for more LGBTQ+ inclusion. While Marvel television shows such as Jessica Jones and The Runaways have featured LGBTQ+ characters and storylines, the franchise's films have been criticized for a lack of inclusion. For example, Avengers: Endgame failed to deliver on a promise of LGBTQ representation, after the directors the Russo Brothers teased the film would feature a gay character, as per Esquire. The character — played by one of the directors — was named "Grieving Man" and only appeared in one scene to mention losing a male partner.
Avengers: Endgame wasn't the first time the franchise was criticized for failing to deliver queer storylines. Back in 2017, Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi confirmed Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie was bisexual on the Four Quadrant podcast, but admitted a scene confirming her sexuality had been cut from the film. However, in July of 2019, Feige confirmed Thor: Love and Thunder would include an LGBTQ+ storyline for Valkyrie during an interview with io9, saying, "The answer is yes. How that impacts the story remains to be seen."
The Eternals will feature an all-star cast that includes Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington, and Kumail Nanjiani on board. The film also stars actor Lauren Ridloff, who will also break ground for Marvel as the franchise's first deaf character. For fans who have been waiting for a more diverse era of superheroes, the film might be a promising beginning.