Eternals has been given an M18 rating by Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) — making it the first Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) title to receive such a classification that bars audiences under 18.
Directed by Nomadland’s Oscar-winning Chloe Zhao, Eternals — about a group of god-like superheroes who’ve lived on Earth for more than 7,000 years — didn’t receive its M18 rating until Wednesday morning (Nov 3), the same day it began sneaking, before opening wide on Thursday.
Eternals, based on a comic created by Jack Kirby in 1976, is passed clean with no cuts and is rated M18 for “Some Mature Content”.
By “Some Mature Content”, it’s referring to the openly gay character — an MCU first — played by Brian Tyree Henry. In one scene, his character, Phastos, an Eternal, shares a brief kiss with his husband (Haaz Sleiman).
IMDA explains how it arrived at the decision on its website (warning contains spoilers): “The film contains some homosexual references and depictions. One of the male Eternals is shown to have a same gender family unit including a child.
“In a later scene, the two same gender partners embrace and kiss before the Eternal leaves to carry out the mission to save Earth.
“This would be more appropriate under the M18 Classification Guidelines which allow “non-explicit depictions of mild sexual activity or acts of intimacy (e.g. kissing and hugging) between persons of the same gender”.
The previous 25 MCU movies — from 2008’s Iron Man to the most recent Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings — are either rated PG or PG13. While there have been M18 rated Marvel movies in the past (see Deadpool and Logan, they aren’t produced by Disney-owned Marvel Studios and hence not considered MCU canon.
While Disney rep here has declined to comment on the rating, Zhao has previously addressed the censorship issue in an IndieWire interview. She said, “I don’t know all the details but I do believe discussions were had and there’s a big desire from Marvel and myself — we talked about this — to not change the cut of the movie,” she said. “Fingers crossed.”
In the US, Eternals is rated PG-13 for “fantasy violence and action, some language and brief sexuality”. Per the Internet Movie Database, the other country that has issued Eternals an 18-rating is Russia. Here are the ratings from around the world.
Australia: M (not recommended for children under the age of 15)
Canada (Ontario): PG
Chile TE+7 (not suitable for children younger than 7 years)
France: Tous publics (universal)
India: UA (unrestricted public exhibition subject to parental guidance for children below the age of 12)
Mexico: B (for teenagers)
New Zealand: M (suitable for mature audiences 16 years and over)
South Korea: 12
United Kingdom: 12A
Some folks found Eternals’ M18 rating rather harsh; a more appropriate rating would have been NC16 (no children under 16).
Local filmmaker Eric Khoo told us via Whatsapp: “The world is moving towards a more inclusive society — [the rating is] ridiculous.”
A veteran exec with a cinema operator, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “I have parents asking me why M18 and how they disappointed they can’t go with their kids.”
He added, “To them, it’s an opportunity to teach them about diversity.” He also pointed out the IMDA’s decision continues to "treat all gender/culture issues with too broad a stroke."
Elsewhere, one parent, who wished to be known as Linda, said she was disappointed that she couldn’t watch the movie with his 15-year-old son. “I thought it’s strange for a Marvel film to have such a high rating.”
In any case, whether the movie is rated M18 or NC16, it doesn’t matter: her kid can’t watch it. In a cinema, that is. She said, “We’d just have to wait for it to come Disney+ a few months later.” (Point of reference: Shang-Chi, which opened theatrically on Sept 1, will premiere on Disney+ on Nov 12.)
Eternals (M18) opens in cinemas on Nov 4.