Doctor Strange 2, aka Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, is due to hit theaters Friday, May 6, but it won’t be opening everywhere. Because of the ugly twins known as intolerance and hatred, one country has deemed the film unworthy of screening. Doctor Strange 2 is banned in Saudia Arabia — just as the country has banned other western films including other Marvel movies — and sadly the reason isn’t surprising.
Earlier today The Hollywood Reporter delivered the news that Doctor Strange 2 is banned in the country because the film includes an LGBTQ character. THR also reports that this ban will in most likelihood extend to Kuwait, but that has yet to be confirmed. More specifically, Xochitl Gomez (The Baby-Sitters Club) will play the gay character America Chavez in the film. This has been a factor in movie bans in Saudi Arabia for a while. Last year Eternals and West Side Story were likewise banned because of LGBTQ representation in the movies. Other countries in the region that have banned films for similar reasons include Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
When it comes to LGBTQ representation, America Chavez is one of the most pivotal characters in the history of Marvel Comics. She made her debut in 2011’s Vengeance #1, though at the time she was known as Miss America. The character attracted a lot more attention during Marvel’s 2015 line-wide event Secret Wars, as part of the all-female superhero miniseries A-Force. When her solo series America premiered in 2017, she became the first LGBTQ character of color to have her own Marvel Comics series.
It’s possible that Saudia Arabia will give Disney the opportunity to edit Doctor Strange 2 to prevent it from being banned, but it’s unlikely the studio would agree. They refused to edit Eternals for the country last year. Not to mention that even if Disney were willing to edit the film, America Chavez will likely be far too pivotal to remove. In the source material America’s impressive power set includes the ability to travel between dimensions, which is no doubt exactly why she’s in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
LGBTQ representation isn’t the only reason movies like Doctor Strange 2 have been banned around the world. In February, Deadline reported that Death on the Nile had been banned in Kuwait and Lebanon because of Gal Gadot’s involvement in the film. Like all native citizens of Israel who reach the age of 18 — with certain exceptions — Gadot served in the Israel Defense Force for two years. Kuwait and Lebanon took offense to this, and it wasn’t the first time. Wonder Woman was banned in Qatar for the same reason, and 2020’s Wonder Woman 1984 was likewise banned in Lebanon.
With Doctor Strange 2 banned in Saudia Arabia and (in most likelihood) Kuwait, sadly fans in those countries will miss out on what’s gearing up to be one of the biggest cinematic experiences of the year. Hopefully, dedicated Marvelites in those nations find alternative methods to view the flick.