The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a global phenomenon, with people from all corners of the world invested in the tales being told within this franchise both on the big screen and on Disney+. However, last November, the denizens of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar missed out on seeing Eternals, as the Marvel movie was banned from those countries. Now word’s come in that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has been banned from screening in Saudi Arabia too.
In addition to confirming the rumors that circulated Friday about Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness not playing in Saudi Arabia, THR has also heard that this ban also applies to Kuwait, although that hasn’t been confirmed. As was the case with Eternals, the reason for Doctor Strange 2’s ban is because it includes a gay character: America Chavez, who’s being played by The Baby-Sitters Club’s Xochitl Gomez. In Eternals’ case, it was the inclusion of Brian Tyree Henry’s Phastos that led to the movie’s Saudi Arabian screenings being scrapped.
Until today, the plan was for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to begin its theatrical run on May 5, just like the rest of the world, but now advanced tickets are no longer available in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as well as Qatar. However, tickets are still available for purchase in the United Arab Emirates. That being said, Disney made edits were made to Eternals so it could screen in the U.A.E., but it’s unclear if the Mouse House will do the same with Multiverse of Madness. This news comes three months after Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, which hailed from 20th Century Studios (another Disney division), was banned from playing in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait due to the inclusion of Anybodys, who was depicted as transgender in the remake and played by nonbinary actor iris menas.
Like her comic book counterpart, who was introduced in 2011’s Vengeance #1, Xochitl Gomez’s version of America Chavez is a gay in the MCU, and this will reportedly be acknowledged in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Because homosexuality is illegal in many parts of the Middle East, it’s hardly surprising that America’s mere inclusion was enough for Multiverse of Madness to be banned in Saudi Arabia, just like what happened with Eternals and Phastos. Other major confirmed LGBTQ+ characters in the MCU include Loki, Sylvie (the Loki variant seen in the Disney+ series) and Valkyrie.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange will run into America Chavez as he travels to other realities during the events of Multiverse of Madness, and like the comic version, Gomez’s America is able to punch open doorways into other dimensions. So far she’s the most notable new MCU character being thrown into the sequel’s mix, although there certainly isn’t any shortage of other Marvel characters rumored to cameo in Doctor Strange 2. Multiverse of Madness will also feature familiar faces like Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch, Chiwetel Ejifor’s Mordo, Benedict Wong’s Wong, Rachel McAdams’ Christine Palmer and Michel Stuhlbarg’s Nicodemus West, as well as Julian Hilliard and Jett Klyne reprising Billy and Tommy, Wanda Maximoff’s twin sons who were introduced in WandaVision.
There’s just a few weeks left to go until the Sam Raimi-directed and Michael Waldron-written Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness works its magic in theaters. Until then, you can catch up on most of the good Doctor’s other appearances in the MCU with a Disney+ subscription. The exception to that is Spider-Man: No Way Home, which is available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital.
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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