‘Doctor Strange’ sequel banned in Saudi Arabia for key LGBTQ superhero

Another Marvel Studios movie is facing a ban in conservative Gulf countries due to an LGBTQ-related storyline. Last year, Eternals had its planned theatrical release in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar canceled due to the inclusion of a same-sex couple. Now the highly anticipated sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnesswhich opens globally on May 5, faces a similar ban, this time for a hero who is set to play a key role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Yahoo Entertainment has confirmed.

The focus of the film directed by Sam Raimi is the character of America Chavez, aka Miss America, played by former babysitters club star Xochitl Gomez. Originally introduced in the Marvel Comics continuity in 2011, America is from an alternate reality but finds its way into the main Marvel Universe, where it becomes a member of the young superteam the Young Avengers. She is also one of Marvel’s most prominent gay characters, a portrayal that continues in the film.

Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. (Photo: Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection)

Disney declined to comment on the ban, which was originally reported in The Hollywood Reporter.

With homosexual conduct still illegal in several Gulf countries, it was expected that strange doctor as well as the next Pixar toy story “sidequel” Light year – who restored a homosexual kiss previously cut from the film – would face a Eternals-like the ban. Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated musical West Side Storywas also banned in Saudi Arabia due to the inclusion of a transgender character.

According to Hollywood journalist, advance tickets for Multiverse of Madness are no longer available for purchase in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, but the film still appears to be on track for a UAE release.

Benedict Cumberbatch encounters multiversal threats in the new trailer for Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Photo: Walt Disney/Marvel Studios/YouTube)

Benedict Cumberbatch encounters multiversal threats in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. (Photo: Walt Disney/Marvel Studios/YouTube)

Given her comic book trajectory, it’s likely that America Chavez, who combines a bulletproof exterior with super strength and super speed, will be an important part of the MCU going forward. The recent screen introductions of young heroes like Hawk Eyeby Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) and Wanda VisionWiccan and Speed ​​(Jett Klyne and Julian Hilliard) – who all happen to be America’s future comic book teammates – suggest that Marvel Studios could be laying the groundwork for a Young Avengers spin-off aimed at Gen Z audiences. As a Latinx hero, she’s also part of the studio’s renewed focus on diversity, a push that also includes Shang Chiis Simu Liu and Ms. Marvel Iman Velani.

In particular, Marvel refused to make changes to the content of Eternals to appease the Saudi censors, and the film was released as is in other international territories. “I’m proud of Marvel for refusing to delete these scenes,” Eternals star, Angelina Jolie, said of the studio’s decision at the time. “How anyone is angry about it, threatened by it, doesn’t approve of it or doesn’t appreciate it is ignorant.”

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness premieres May 6 in theaters.

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