As the Marvel Cinematic Universe enters a brand-new chapter, the superhero franchise is pushing for more representation in Phase 4. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings introduced a stacked Asian cast, while Eternals delivered powerful performances from its diverse group of heroes.
On top of racial equality, the MCU is also leaning toward LGBTQIA+ representation. Eternals pushed the diverse group to the forefront by showcasing Phastos' love for his husband Ben through an on-screen kiss, marking the first time for a Marvel movie.
However, the inclusion of Phastos' on-screen kiss with his husband led to a ban on Eternals in several middle countries, mainly due to Disney holding its ground not to censor the aforementioned scene.
Now, another Marvel sequel has fallen victim to the ban in the Middle East for the same LGBTQIA+ issue.
No Doctor Strange 2 in Saudi Arabia
The Hollywood Reporter shared that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has been banned in Saudi Arabia.
The film hasn't been released or reviewed yet, but Middle East sources revealed that the decision is said to be related to LGBTQIA+ issues. Xochitl Gomez's America Chavez was previously confirmed to be portrayed as gay, which is lifted straight from the comics.
Originally, the MCU sequel was supposed to premiere on May 5 as part of its global rollout, but advanced tickets are no longer available on the websites of cinemas in Saudi, Kuwait, and Qatar. However, tickets are still available in the United Arab Emirates, indicating that it will be released in that territory.
How the Ban Affects Doctor Strange 2
This ban could potentially affect the worldwide box office sales of Multiverse of Madness, but it's safe to say that Disney and Marvel Studios will not mind as long as LGBTQIA+ representation stays in the sequel. While this decision is due to the Middle East's homosexuality ban, it is still an unfortunate scenario.
America Chavez's upcoming live-action debut is a significant feat for the character, and keeping her sexuality on-screen is the cherry on top. The MCU newcomer is poised to become another breakout addition to the franchise, especially after a wide array of footage showcasing her powers and potential mentor-mentee relationship with Doctor Strange and Wong.
At this point, it is unknown if other Marvel movies will be banned in the Middle East. A potential candidate could be Thor: Love and Thunder due to the exploration of Valkyrie's bisexuality. However, based on Disney and Marvel's track record, it's safe to assume that they will not pull the plug if ever the Middle East decides to ban more movies that deal with the same representation.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is still slated to premiere in most territories on May 6.