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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters on May 6, but the Marvel movie is reportedly facing bans in a handful of countries. Because of a brief scene mentioning LGBTQ characters, the sequel may not make it to certain theaters. Often, studios censor such content at the request of foreign governments. However, Disney is refusing to do so for Doctor Strange 2, resulting in bans that Benedict Cumberbatch called an “expected disappointment.”
Why ‘Doctor Strange 2’ is facing bans in some countries
As the release date for Doctor Strange 2 approaches, reports that the movie will be prohibited from playing in certain countries have started to surface. Variety reported on April 22 that the film wouldn’t play in Saudi Arabia because it features an LGBTQ character. Specifically, the movie mentions that America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) has two mothers. Her character is also a member of the LGBTQ community in the comics, something that may carry over into the film.
According to Nawaf Alsabhan, Saudi Arabia’s general supervisor of cinema classification, the movie hasn’t been banned just yet. During a conversation with The Guardian, it seems like its release in the country is dependent on Disney cutting the reference to America’s mothers. However, it seems that Disney is refusing the request.
“It’s just her talking about her moms, because she has two moms,” Alsabhan explained. “And being in the Middle East, it’s very tough to pass something like this.”
Saudi Arabia isn’t the only country that won’t play the movie, either. IMAX Egypt revealed on Twitter that the sequel will not play in Egypt. Additionally, Screen Rant reports that the film is banned in both Kuwait and Qatar.
Benedict Cumberbatch says bans over LGBTQ content are an ‘expected disappointment’
In a video posted on YouTube by The Sun Showbiz, Benedict Cumberbatch addressed the Doctor Strange 2 bans, supporting Disney’s decision to keep its LGBTQ representation in the film:
“It is, I’m afraid, an expected disappointment. We’ve come to know from those repressive regimes that their lack of tolerance is exclusionary to people who deserve to be not only included, but celebrated, for who they are and made to feel part of a society and a culture and not punished for their sexuality.”
Cumberbatch went on to talk about the comic accuracy of America Chavez’s sexuality, adding that he wishes there wasn’t so much controversy surrounding the subject of LGBTQ characters:
“This character is that from the comics. It’s not something we’ve created for the sake of diversity. We’ve included her because of how awesome she is as a character. And that’s just one aspect of her character, and that’s all it should be. But sadly, it’s also now politically very charged, and I wish it wasn’t.”
Finally, the actor expressed support for Disney’s push for increased diversity, even amid the backlash it’s receiving.
“We still have to push for inclusion and equality and I’m very glad in a small, but on a very big canvas, Marvel and Disney are doing that,” he concluded.
Disney seems to be sticking to its guns with ‘Doctor Strange 2’
Although Disney hasn’t come out and addressed Doctor Strange 2 bans explicitly, the company appears to be sticking to its guns. As of this writing, it’s reportedly still refusing to remove the LGBTQ reference that’s sparking so much controversy. Given Marvel’s push to include more LGBTQ characters in recent projects, this could become the norm.
Eternals was also banned in several countries following its 2021 release, once again due to depicting a same-sex relationship. Disney didn’t censor that film either. With that in mind, it seems this trend could continue as it embraces a more diverse lineup of characters.
Doctor Strange 2 makes its debut on May 6, 2022.