It may seem quiet now, but Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is about to make a lot of noise. The upcoming Doctor Strange sequel has been in the works for years at this point, suffering from creative changes behind the scenes as well as multiple delays due to the ongoing worldwide pandemic. To say this film has had a bumpy road to release would be the understatement of the year.
But it seems it may not be smooth sailing from here as many would assume with the film done and ready to hit theater screens. Last week it was reported that Multiverse of Madness would be outright banned in parts of the world due to its inclusion of LGBTQIA+ themes.
America Chavez (played by newcomer Xochitl Gomez) is set to join Benedict Cumberbatch's Stephen Strange and Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff and is the one who finds herself at the center of this controversy. Chavez in Marvel Comics lore is openly gay, so many assumed that was what was the cause of this ban.
Well, it seems as though an outright ban is not coming for the film, but edits are being asked to be made. And details of those edits have emerged for all to read.
Disney Stands Strong on Multiverse of Madness
After reports of edits being asked to be made to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, The Guardian reported what was actually the subject of these potential cuts.
It has been revealed that Saudi Arabia has asked Disney to cut 12 seconds from the upcoming MCU epic. The scene centered around Xochitl Gomez's America Chavez, talking about her "two moms."
Saudi Arabia’s general supervisor of cinema classification Nawaf Alsabhan told The Guardian that the sequence was "barely 12 seconds” and was "just [Chavez] talking about her moms:"
"“It’s just her talking about her moms, because she has two moms.”
Because this is a direct reference to LGBTQIA+ subject matter, Alsabhan said that with the film release "being in the Middle East," it is "very tough to pass something like this." The Saudi official mentioned they did send their grievance to Disney, but the studio "told us they are not willing" to make any changes.
Alsabhan also made sure to clarify that the film has not been banned from the country, as was previously reported, but that they were simply asking for the edits to be made.
Doctor Strange Fuss All Over 12 Seconds
Who could have known 12 seconds of anything could cause this much fuss. But it is not the first time that Disney and the MCU have found themselves at odds with international governments.
Mere months ago Marvel Studios was in a very similar situation leading into the release of Eternals. After it was revealed that one of the main heroes would be a part of a gay relationship, the film was outright banned in parts of the world.
And while here it at least seems like the Saudi government is doing everything they can to get an edited version of the movie rather than ban it. It would not be all that surprising if in a few days time a full-on ban is issued.
Disney is not willing to move on censorship like this, nor should they be.
What is interesting is the fact that they are calling out America Chavez's gay parents, with no mention of her personal sexuality. In the comics Chavez has become a poster child for representation, becoming one of the most beloved gay characters in the comic canon. But will that not be explored in Multiverse of Madness?
If a character were to be queer in the film, and one as integral to the story as Chavez, would that not have come up here? It feels like that would have been the case.
If in fact this part of America Chavez is not explored in the film, it does feel like quite a disservice to the character.
Fans will have to wait to find out when Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters on May 6.