Marvel Studios’ Eternals features a sprawling and diverse cast, with people of multiple ethnicities and backgrounds working both in front of and behind the camera. During a global press conference earlier today, actor Brian Tyree Henry was asked about his knowledge-driven character’s relationship with Earth’s population and what may have had an effect on Phastos’ view of humanity. His intricate response discussed the role race most likely played in Phastos’ view of the world:
The thing that really attracted me to this part was that I just think about all the images of Black men out there and how we are portrayed. And what I loved the most about Phastos is that, one, he’s an ancestor. All of us are ancestors technically, so Phastos predates everything and had to probably go through all these things which could actually make someone lose faith in humanity very quickly.
I remember when I was coming to this project that I, Brian, had kind of lost faith in humanity…what the images of black men were and how we were being portrayed and how the power was taken from us. The lack of power, and what I love the most about Phastos is that through all of that, him being Eternal, him never being able to die, he still chose love. He still decided to have a family even though he may have to watch them perish. He still tried to find a way to bring heart and love to everything he did… It just really resonated with me, it really resonated a lot with how I felt my place in society was. Y’know, we can be kings and queens and at the same time they’ll take our pedestal and take our superpowers from us like that. What I love about Eternals is that Chloe and Nate really just re-instilled that power back in me again.
Henry finished his comments by explaining how much he appreciated not being required to change his body image for the role, something many actors and actresses have had to do in the past:
I remember the first time they were like “So we want you to be a superhero”, I was like “Well, how much weight do I have to lose?” and Chloe was like “What are you talking about? We want you exactly as you are.” And to be a black man and have someone look at you and say “We want you exactly as you are” is unlike anything I have ever felt.
Marvel’s Eternals releases in cinemas soon, on November 5, 2021.