First Syrian refugee Marvel superhero? Zain Al Rafeea from Nadine Labaki's 'Capernaum' has likely joined 'The Eternals'

The young Syrian actor has been pictured with the cast of the film, which stars Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden and Salma Hayek

Lia McHugh and Zain Al Rafeea, right, with Salma Hayek, centre, who is starring as the leader of the 'Eternals' in the Marvel film. Instagram/Salma Hayek
Powered by automated translation

Zain Al Rafeea was 12 when he starred in Nadine Labaki's stunning Oscar-nominated drama Capernaum.

He met the director while, as a young Syrian refugee, he was working as a delivery boy in Beirut.

After emigrating to Norway, it seems the career of the young actor, now 15, is far from over, with Instagram posts suggesting he's about to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), with a role in The Eternals.

This will be the 25th film in the MCU, telling the story of an immortal race called the Eternals, who are in a millennium-old conflict with the less-evolved Deviants, and their originators, the Celestials. All of the Eternals have strange, sometimes monstrous, powers.

Salma Hayek, who will play the leader of the Eternals, Ajak, posted a picture of herself with young actress Lia McHugh, who will play Sprite, and Al Rafeea, whose role in the film is still unknown.

"Hanging with the Eternals’ youth," Hayek captioned the picture, another serious indicator that Al Rafeea's film journey has taken him from life as a refugee on the streets, to that of a Marvel superhero on the silver screen.

The film is directed by Chloe Zhao, the mind behind 2017's striking film The Rider, and is due for release in November 2020.

What role he will play in the film is as of yet unknown, but Al Rafeea has been sharing photos of himself in Hollywood over the past month or so:

The majority of the child actors in 2018's Capernaum were themselves living on the streets, with Labaki filming 520 hours of footage over six months. The film's aim was to raise awareness of the forgotten children who were forced to live on Lebanon's streets.

"He's a tough kid; he's seen so much in his life that all this is nothing," Labaki told The National last year of Al Rafeea while they were on the festival circuit. "He's happy, of course, but it stops there. His life is not easy and that's what we need to start looking at.

"All the kids in this film have very difficult lives and that’s what we need to start thinking about. How can this film really make a change in these kids’ lives?”

It seems, at least for Al Rafeea, that Capernaum was a true game-changer.

Al Rafeea in Capernaum: