Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is opening in the United States tomorrow, and Strangemania has seized audiences everywhere. The movie is being positioned as one of the key stepping stones of the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward, picking up from where the Disney+ series Loki and Spider-Man: No Way Home unleashed an onslaught of parallel realities. No matter what, it is bound to be one of the biggest movies of 2022, but Benedict Wong already has some harsh words for so-called “fans” of the movie. Specifically, he wants trolls harassing co-star Xochitl Gomez to feel shame.
Benedict Wong has been playing Doctor Strange’s trusted comrade Wong (no relation) in the MCU since 2016 and will be taking a primary role in the new movie. Xochitl Gomez is making her debut in the MCU with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as America Chavez, a teenager capable of traversing the multiverse unaided. In both the comics and the movie, America Chavez is gay and has two lesbian mothers; reportedly, Disney refused to cut references to LGBTQIA+ matters in the movie for countries. That is becoming an increasingly common and problematic practice, as Warner Bros’ Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore recently found out after cutting dialogue referencing a relationship between Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald. As we live in a depressing world, apparently anti-LGBTQIA+ trolls have begun harassing Gomez online and Benedict Wong is not having it.
In a recent group interview with Asia One (via The Independent), Xochitl Gomez acknowledged the harassment she had begun facing and stated she was happy Marvel kept that aspect of the character. Benedict Wong spoke up to both state that people should behave respectfully to each other and that it was valuable that the cast and the movie were helping representation in the world. He also pointed out the fact that Gomez was only 14 when cast in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Gomez is 16 now), and it is simply not okay for people to be slinging homophobic language at a teenager or anyone online. Here’s Wong himself:
There’s a real level of shame for all those trolls that are cowards not to actually put their face [out there], and they should feel a deep shame of what they’re doing… Let’s all just play nice. Let’s all just enjoy what we are representing. It’s sad that fans in that country won’t get to see this. But all we are doing is radiating representation, voicing the voiceless. And that’s all that we can do — represent people so that they can be seen.
The other Benedict of the film, Cumberbatch, has recently come to be one of the linchpins of the MCU. Now that more and more of the original Avengers are being phased out and/or replaced with different variants of the characters, Doctor Strange is emerging as an elder statesman of the franchise. He will almost certainly be one of the unifying characters in upcoming Phases of Marvel Studios’ ever-growing plans, given his abilities to appear pretty much anywhere in the universe and do most anything.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has a lot of weight of expectations on it, not only as a big step forward for the MCU but also as director Sam Raimi’s return to the superhero genre he helped define with the 2000s-era Spider-Man films. Hopefully, people online will someday learn to be more respectful of the people around them (if not the people creating their content for them), but for now, Benedict Wong will be around to shame them if they don’t.