Anti-LGBTQ+ Trolls Review Bomb 'Eternals'; Star Claps Back

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Sunday November 7, 2021
Originally published on October 29, 2021

Kumail Nanjiani, co-writer and star of the film "The Big Sick," poses for a portrait in front of a billboard of script notecards at his home in Los Angeles
Kumail Nanjiani, co-writer and star of the film "The Big Sick," poses for a portrait in front of a billboard of script notecards at his home in Los Angeles  (Source:Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The forthcoming MCU film "Eternals" hasn't even been released yet, but that didn't stop homophobic trolls from review bombing the movie with one-star ratings on IMDb, Screen Rant reported.

"Eternals has generated controversy from some comic readers who were upset at how the film updated the race, gender, and sexuality of the Eternals from their comic book counterparts," Screen Rant explained.

But what really got the trolls' goat was the inclusion of the franchise's first onscreen same-sex couple. Superhero Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) is married to an ordinary human man, and the two have children. More than that, there's reportedly an onscreen kiss shared by the same-sex couple.

Without even having seen the movie, trolls did what trolls do. Screen Rant reported that anti-gay digital vandals "flooded Eternals IMDb page with negative reviews, criticizing the film for its LGBTQIA+ representation."

The film boasts a plethora of A-talent, including "Gamers of Thrones" hunk Kit Harington, "Raya and the Last Dragon" star Gemma Chan, Barry Keoghan, Salma Hayek, and Kumail Nanjiani, who plays a character named Kingo (depicted as a samurai in the comics, but a Bollywood actor in the film version).

Nanjiani responded to the IMDb review bombing with a tart tweet in which he shared a post from The Direct and added, "Looks like we're upsetting the right people."

That tweet has since disappeared from Nanjiani's Twitter feed, but Metro published a screencap.

"The act of 'review-bombing' takes place when any group swarms to online reviewing forums and leaves unfounded, low reviews of a given movie as a form of protest towards something that the film in question says or does," The Direct explained.

"In most cases, those participating haven't even watched the movie that they're 'reviewing' so harshly."

Negative reviews called the film "woke" and "mediocre," among other things.

IMDb responded, too, reports said — by disabling reviews and ratings until the film actually opens.

The film will be the 26th feature in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise. The MCU has teased fans for years with hints and promises of signifiant LGBTQ+ representation, only for subplots involving same-sex romance to be left on the cutting room floor, gay characters to be relegated to the sidelines where they go virtually unnoticed, and LGTBQ+-baiting hints about impending diversity to prove hollow.

Even when representation has been offered, as with this year's six-episode first season of "Loki" on the small screen (in which the title character was acknowledged as being bisexual and gender fluid), it's been fleeting and not significantly tied to the plot or otherwise explored.

That might finally be about to change. In recent comments, Kevin Feige — the head of the franchise — promised that the LGBTQ+ representation delivered by "Eternals'' would be "just the beginning."

"Eternals" hits theaters November 5.

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.