Saudia Arabia bans ‘Doctor Strange’ sequel for including a gay character

A man wearing a cape and standing on a sidewalk hits a man in a Spider-Man suit
Benedict Cumberbatch, left, as Doctor Strange and Tom Holland as Spider-Man in Columbia Pictures’ “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
(Associated Press)

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” will not appear in theaters in Saudia Arabia next month because of the inclusion of a lesbian character, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Marvel’s highly anticipated sequel to the Benedict Cumberbatch-led superhero film is the latest in a series of Disney movies to be affected by the country’s censorship rules. Homosexuality is illegal across the Gulf, and films that display LGBTQ representation are often barred from release by national censors.

Director Sam Raimi’s sequel will acknowledge the queer sexuality of America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), who will make her live-action debut in the film. In 2017, Chavez became the first lesbian Latinx character to star in her own Marvel comic series, according to Vogue.

Scott Derrickson announced that he will no longer be directing Marvel’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” due to “creative differences.”

Jan. 9, 2020

Chloé Zhao’s “Eternals,” which featured the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first gay superhero and a same-sex couple, was also kept from the big screen across many Gulf nations. The Hollywood Reporter reported that the censors demanded specific cuts to the ensemble film, most of which Disney declined. However, an edited screening did make it to the United Arab Emirates.


In addition, some countries in the Middle East banned the Oscar-winning musical remake “West Side Story last year for its inclusion of a transgender character played by Iris Menas, a nonbinary actor.

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Other film studios are also dealing with international censorship and editing requirements.

In mid-April, Warner Bros. agreed to edit out dialogue from “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” so that the final entry in the “Harry Potter” spinoff trilogy could be released in China, according to Variety. The six seconds of dialogue that were removed alluded to a gay relationship between two of the film’s main characters.

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” will be released only in theaters May 6.