At a time when ‘Eternals’, the 25th movie to roll out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is being ‘review bombed’ by two rather nasty sets of critics — one that has a problem with its Oscar-winning outspoken Chinese director Chloe Zhao, and the other who can’t stomach the fact that the film has a gay superhero — it has got a shoutout from none other than Rana Daggubati, India’s supervillain.
Welcoming the release of ‘Eternals’ in six languages in India on Friday, November 5, Daggubati took to Instagram to greet the movie with a ‘namaste’ and a witty introduction that ended with him urging his fans to buy tickets and crowd the theatres. The sci-fi adventure drama is being released in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam across the country.
Daggubati has an old Marvel connection. He was the voice of the destructive villain Thanos in the Telugu version of the 2019 superhero film, ‘Avengers: Endgame’, for which, incidentally, A.R. Rehman had dubbed the Marvel Anthem. The ‘Baahubali’ villain had also voiced ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ in Telugu in 2018.
In his Instagram Reels shoutout, Daggubati makes a special reference to Angelina Jolie, who plays the elite warrior Thena gifted with the quality of transforming cosmic energy into weapons of her choice.
“Angelina, so good to see you. I can’t tell you how much we all love you here,” Daggubati says in the clip. It cuts into Angelina mouthing Thena’s line: “If you love something, you protect it.” To which, Daggubati says: “Of course, I will protect it.”
“You can’t protect any of them,” says the voice of the villain, to which Daggubati replies with the words: “You have no idea who I am.” The reel then cuts into images of Thanos and the voice of Salma Hayek says, “Five years ago, Thanos erased half of the population of the universe.” At the end Angelina appears again to say ‘Hello’ and Daggubati gestures a ‘namaste’ with the coyness of a fan boy.
‘Eternals’ is an ode to diversity and Angelina has spoken very strongly about it. Reacting angrily to the ban on the film in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar because of the gay love scenes in ‘Eternals’, she said during an roundtable interaction with the website, www.news.com.au: “I’m sad for [those audiences]. And I’m proud of Marvel for refusing to cut those scenes out.”
She continued: “I still don’t understand how we live in a world today where there’s still [people who] would not see the family Phastos has and the beauty of that relationship and that love.”
The Eternals team of immortals who defend the Earth is led by a Latina woman (Salma Hayek) and it has five other people of colour, including Gemma Chan, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, who plays the gay Phastos, Lauren Ridloff and Don Lee. Ridloff (whom viewers will remember from ‘The Walking Dead’) plays Makkari, Marvel’s first deaf superhero.