Doctor Strange 2 Banned in Qatar, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia for LGBTQ+ Character

Posted 2022/04/23 12 0

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Middle East censors have banned Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, according to The Wrap. Although the censors have not provided any reasons for banning the film’s release, it’s the latest Marvel movie to fall victim to state-sponsored censorship to constrain certain civil liberties and human rights norms, including the expression of a LGBTQIA+ lifestyle. By including an openly LGBTQ+ character in its film, America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), the Marvel film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has been banned in Saudi Arabia, as well as Qatar and Kuwait.

Although the sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange hasn’t been released or reviewed by the countries’ censor boards, since it is confirmed that Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange 2 will introduce a gay character, America Chavez, an early ban has already been applied. America was the first lesbian Latina in Marvel Comics, debuting in 2011’s Vengeance #1 by Joe Casey, Nick Dragotta, Brad Simpson, and Rus Wooton.

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The character later returned in 2013’s Young Avengers by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Mike Norton, Stephen Thompson, Kris Anka, and Matthew Wilson, and some other crossover storylines. However, it was the character’s 2017 debut in her first solo series that kicked off Chavez’s notoriety. The comic was titled America and written by Latina novelist Gabby Riviera, with art contribution by Joe Quinones, Jose Villarrubia, and Travis Lanham.

The Wrap reported, “Disney had no comment,” in regard to the ban. However, when the Gulf countries made similar edit requests for Eternals in November 2021, Marvel Studios and Disney declined to make the changes to the film’s story. Studios can choose to either make the changes requested by the censors or not, but either Marvel decided to stand by its film (like it did with Eternals) or the requested edits would be impossible with America Chavez expected to play a major role in the film.

Gulf Countries Have Banned Other Films for LGBTQIA+ Content

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness isn’t the first time audiences in the Middle East haven’t been able to see a major theatrical release in theaters. According to The Wrap, although these countries have been known to censor movies for a number of reasons, including “intimacy, violence or sexuality, homosexuality,” which is illegal in Saudi Arabia, oftentimes these films aren’t granted a release certificate because of LGBTQIA+ representation and issues.

The ban for Doctor Strange 2 not only comes on the heels of Saudi Arabia also blocking the release of Marvel’s Eternals for featuring a gay superhero and same-sex kiss, but also on the country’s ban of West Side Story for featuring a trans character. In the Steven Spielberg-directed musical, the character Anybodys identifies as transgender and is portrayed by non-binary actor Iris Menas. As a result, West Side Story was also stopped from hitting cinemas in Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait. For both films, the studios decided not to edit or remove characters or plot lines to appease the international censors.


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