Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Banned in Saudi Arabia Due to Gay Character

Marvel’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” won’t be playing in Saudi Arabia and several other Arab countries due to the inclusion of a gay character.

Saudi Arabian censors did not issue a permit to release the film in the kingdom, since the changes they requested were not approved by Disney, according to a source.

The new Sam Raimi-directed sequel stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular character, and it also features the new hero America Chavez, played by “The Baby-Sitters Club” star Xochitl Gomez. Her character in the movie is reportedly gay, true to how she is portrayed in the Marvel comics.

The “Doctor Strange” sequel, which will go on release in the U.S. on May 6, was initially slated for release in the Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries on May 5. But in the region, movies concerning or containing sex, homosexuality and religious issues are routinely cut to comply with censorship rules. In this case Disney was either unwilling or unable make edits requested by censors.

Censorship in Saudi Arabia has recently also kept local audiences from watching Marvel’s “Eternals,” after Disney refused to make edits that included the pic’s same-sex kiss, and “West Side Story,” because it features a transgender character. But this is not a problem that is specific to Saudi. Advanced tickets sales of the “Doctor Strange” sequel are not available in Saudi, Kuwait and Qatar. However, they are on sale in the United Arab Emirates, indicating that the film will be released there, since censorship in the Emirates has recently become less restrictive.

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” follows the Sorcerer Supreme as he tries to contain the aftermath of the multiverse-fracturing spell he cast in “Spider-Man: No Way Home” — which caused villains from across the multiverse to spill over into the central Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline. The film is also set after the events of “WandaVision” and “Loki,” and Doctor Strange teams up with Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen.

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