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“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” was banned in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Egypt. The story introduces dozens of new characters. As Marvel Studios approaches the finish line of the film release, it has not come without hiccups.
The truth is much of the Middle East has a long way to go with LGBTQ themes. People from the community do not enjoy the same treatment or privileges they would elsewhere in the world. That goes for movies like “Doctor Strange 2” facing the same ban as “Eternals” because of a gay character.
Films that feature LGBTQ references are outright banned in Persian Gulf countries because homosexuality is illegal there.
Saudi Arabia restricted the release of “Doctor Strange 2” in its theaters because of America Chavez’s lesbian role on-screen. She is part of the LGBTQ community in the cartoons as well. This restriction began with Phastos being gay in “Eternals,” and banning “Doctor Strange 2” continues that trend.
Marvel wanted to present America Chavez for a long time, and she was in “Spider-Man: No Way Home” for a time but her sexuality did not stop the team from molding her character on-screen.
Another reason the Persian Gulf banned “Eternals” is because of its same-sex couple portrayal, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe’s openly gay personalities.
Even if this ban will slightly weaken Marvel and Disney, the studio is committed to bringing this kind of representation into its stories.
As part of the global rollout, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” was due for release across the Gulf on May 5. While advanced tickets are no longer available on Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait cinema websites, United Arab Emirates will release the film there.
The movie tracks Chloé Zhao’s “Eternals” which was prohibited across much of the Gulf in November because of the same-sex couple inclusion and the first gay superhero in MCU. At that time, censors had requested a series of edits that Disney was unwilling to make. But, an edited version was screened in the United Arab Emirates.
In January, “West Side Story” did not make it to the cinemas in United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait. The decision was due to the transgender person in the new adaptation played by Iris Menas, a nonbinary actress.
As MCU will be including more LGBTQ representation in the future, movie viewers will lookout for Disney and other projects to meet the exact same treatment in the Persian Gulf nations.
There are tales that Tessa Thompson Valkyrie could join “Thor: Love and Thunder” this year, so America Chavez will not be the last gay character the MCU brings to the big screen.
Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
The Direct: Doctor Strange 2 Now Officially Banned In Multiple Countries; by Richard Nebens
Market Watch: Disney’s ‘Doctor Strange’ film banned in Saudi Arabia over inclusion of a gay character, report says; by Weston Blasi
The Hollywood Reporter: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ Banned in Saudi Arabia (Exclusive); by Alex Ritman
Featured and Top Image by GabboT Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Budiey’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License