Netizens criticize Hiroshima scene in Chloe Zhao's 'Eternals' for overlooking Japan's acts of aggression
Published: Nov 25, 2021 11:16 PM
Chloe Zhao attends the '<em>Eternals</em>' photocall on October 25, 2021 in Rome, Italy. Photo: VCG

Chloe Zhao attends the Eternals photocall on October 25, 2021 in Rome, Italy. Photo: VCG

"What was Chloe Zhao thinking?" Many Chinese netizens asked this question on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo on Thursday after a scene in Zhao's new Marvel movie Eternals was published on Chinese social media platforms. 

The scene shows Marvel's first openly gay superhero cry sadly after the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Japan and has been considered by many netizens in China, South Korea and the US as overlooking Japan's acts of aggression and the pain it brought to other nations.

The movie has the black superhero Phastos, a genius inventor of weapons and technology, teach humans how to produce nuclear bombs, but after he discovers that a bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, he kneels down and bursts into tears in front of the ruins of the city.

Zhao and the film's scriptwriter Kaz Firpo who is one-quarter Japanese were questioned that expressing sympathy to invaders and helping Japanese invaders to shrink responsibility for historical criminals.

As reported on Sina Weibo, the scene was written by the film's scriptwriter Kaz Firpo, whose grandfather was a Japanese who moved to the US. Firpo noted in the interview that the content also sparked great controversy among the cast when it was written, but Chinese director Zhao finally prevailed over all dissenting views and kept the scene.

He said that the companies responsible for overseas distribution were worried about creating a lot of troubles so strongly suggested that the scene be deleted, but Zhao insisted on keeping it, for which he praised Zhao as humane.

The scriptwriter did not mention that Japan first launched the aggression and just emphasized to reflect on the suffering of Japanese people. His view got great supports among Japanese netizens, but enraged netizens from other nations, including China, South Korea and the US, which had been hurt by Japanese invaders.

Many Chinese netizens condemned Zhao, a Chinese director, for forgetting the painful memories the Japanese invaders brought to the nation and depicting a part of history from the viewpoint of the invaders.

"Why did the US drop nuclear bombs on Japan? Can we forget what the Fascists criminals did to the world? These are questions all people should consider and remember first, so that all nations can understand the importance of peace," one Sina Weibo user commented.

"You are telling me the Eternals were OK with watching centuries of slavery and colonization but Hiroshima was where Phastos drew the line and finally gave up on humanity," a Twitter user wrote.

Released in North America on November 5, Eternals has been saddled with the worst reviews ever for a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film at a 53 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, and a B CinemaScore by audiences, the lowest of any of the 26 titles in the MCU.

The poor word of mouth impacted the expectations some Chinese netizens had for the film directed by Zhao, who won the Academy Award for Nomadland.