As Marvel fans around the world are well aware, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will premiere in less than two weeks. The film will see the return of Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange as he travels the Multiverse to fight dangerous new adversaries — including multiple versions of himself. Elizabeth Olsen will also appear as Wanda Maximoff (AKA Scarlett Witch), Benedict Wong will return as Wong, and Rachel McAdams is set to return as Christine Palmer.
Every time a Marvel film is released, it is an incredible success. Fans anxiously wait on pins and needles for the newest film to come out and are happy to spend their money when it does. However, with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, one country’s Marvel fans may not be able to enjoy the film, even if they wanted to.
Saudi Arabia may decide not to show the new Marvel film unless Disney alters about 12 seconds of footage. Disney is refusing, so a potential ban on the movies is possible. According to numerous sources, the problem revolves around the film’s discussion of lesbian mothers. Homosexuality — as well as transgenderism — is currently illegal in Saudi Arabia and, if someone is found guilty of either, they can be sentenced to death.
In the film, actress Xochitl Gomez — who plays America Chavez — mentions her “two moms.” Saudi Arabia film officials are demanding that Disney cut this scene if they want to show the movie in the country. Saudi officials are saying that Disney is refusing. Per a report from The Guardian:
Disney has so far declined the requested edits to the Doctor Strange sequel, slated for release around the world next week. The cuts amount to “barely 12 seconds” in which a lesbian character, America Chavez, played by the actor Xochitl Gomez, refers to her “two moms”, according to Nawaf Alsabhan, Saudi Arabia’s general supervisor of cinema classification.
“It’s just her talking about her moms, because she has two moms,” Alsabhan said. “And being in the Middle East, it’s very tough to pass something like this.”
He added: “We sent it to the distributor, and the distributor sent it to Disney, and Disney has told us they are not willing.”
But Alsabhan disputed reports that the movie had been banned outright.
“It will never be banned,” he told Agence France-Presse. “There’s no reason to ban the film. It’s a simple edit … So far they have refused. But we haven’t closed the door. We’re still trying.”
As of last Friday, April 22, The Hollywood Reporter was reporting that Dr. Strange ticket sales had been paused in Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. However, they were still being sold in the United Arab Emirates.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is not the first Marvel film that has faced scrutiny in Saudi Arabia. Marvel’s Eternals did not screen in the country due to the fact that the film featured a gay couple.
Disney has not commented on the potential Doctor Strange ban in Saudi Arabia at this time.