Chloé Zhao Explains the Importance of Introducing Marvel’s First Gay Hero in Eternals

Based on some of the early reactions to Eternals, the latest addition to the MCU challenges the studio’s typical formula. Additionally, critics are singling out Brian Tyree Henry’s Phastos, who appears in the film as the MCU’s first openly gay superhero. His inclusion serves as an indicator of Marvel’s commitment to onscreen representation. And while speaking with IndieWire, director Chloé Zhao discussed the role Phastos plays in the film’s larger story.

“The way Phastos’ story plays out in the film is that he’s someone who only sees humanity as a whole and believes that technology’s going to solve the problem,” explained Zhao. “Obviously, he lost faith in us for some very tough things that we’ve done. And then he had to stop looking at us as a whole and look at one person he falls in love with, and one child, to regain the face of humanity. It’s like us turning on the news and thinking it’s completely hopeless and then going home, looking at our lover and our child and going like, ‘Well actually this is worth fighting for.’”

Another way Eternals signals a turning point for the MCU is that it features the franchise’s first (PG-13) sex scene. Because the superhero genre rarely shows this level of intimacy between characters, this moment is getting a lot of attention. But in Zhao’s view, this is just a natural extension of Marvel’s willingness to try new things.

RELATED: Chloé Zhao Teases Multiple Story Layers in Latest Eternals Featurette

​​“From that moment to what you see onscreen there was definitely a lot of discussion about how to do it,” said Zhao. “But I think the desire to do something different is a very natural desire for where Marvel Studios is right now. I think it’s like Westerns coming into the revisionist period of the 70s. I think it’s happening to superhero films — or at least we’re on the edge of that. And so these scenes just started to happen naturally.”

“For us to be able to show two people who love each other, not just emotionally and intellectually but also physically,” added Zhao. “And to have a sex scene that will be seen by a lot of people that shows their love and compassion and gentleness — I think it’s a really beautiful thing.”

Eternals hits theaters on November 5.

Are you happy to hear that Marvel is stepping outside of its comfort zone with the new film? Let us know in the comment section below!

Recommended Reading: The Eternals by Jack Kirby Vol. 1

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