Disney is generally known as a child-friendly movie and media production company that has always erred on the safe side of things, since their main demographic are children and young adults.
Their films are usually PG, PG13 at most if you’re really pushing the ante, and they hold their hired actors and actresses to high standards.
That is, of course, if you ignore the number of child actors that have been irrevocably scarred in some way after their stint with Disney, with only a few being able to claim that they grew up as sane adults.
Having said that, it’ll probably surprise you that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has been banned in Saudi Arabia cinemas.
It might be banned in Kuwait and Qatar too, but the verdict isn’t out yet for those countries.
The Contentious LGBTQ Character
Apparently, next to the leading roles of Doctor Strange and Wanda Maximoff, who are played by Benedict Cucumberpatch and Elizabeth Olsen respectively, there is another side character called America Chavez featured in the new Marvel film.
Besides the questionable first name—America, seriously?—Chavez is known as the first lesbian Latino superhero with her own Marvel Comic series.
Which is frankly an amazing feat for both race and sexual orientation representation, because she’s the first of her kind since Marvel Comics was founded in 1939.
Saudi Arabia has nothing against the Latinos, might scrunch their nose at the BAMF female part, but the moment they hear the word ‘lesbian’, the film is immediately unacceptable.
In their own words: “It’s haram, bro.”
Homosexuality is just a big no no in Islamic laws.
Not The First Banned Marvel Film
The heroine America Chavez made her first appearance in the Marvel Studios Cinematic Universe in The Baby-sitter’s Club series on Netflix in 2020.
Last year, Marvel’s Eternal, which was directed by Oscar-winner Chloe Zhao, was also pulled from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait cinemas, purportedly because of censorship issues over homosexual content.
Slight spoilers for those who haven’t watched it, but the film has a same-sex couple, portrayed by actors Brian Tyree and Haaz Sleiman, who share a kiss in one scene.
Come on, a kiss is so chaste, I’m sure you’ve witnessed worse in R21 movies.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the local censors had requested specific edits to the film, but Marvel’s parent company Disney refused to comply.
You know what, a round of applause for Disney!
Besides, not releasing their movies in 3 out of 195 doesn’t seem like Disney is losing out on too much revenue, they’ll live.
So What’s the Problem Here?
As with all Marvel movies, the cast and crew tend to be tight-lipped about the contents of the film.
Unless, of course, Tom Holland is involved, then all bets are off.
It’s unknown what America Chavez’s role in the Doctor Strange movie will be.
I mean, is Saudi Arabia just banning the movie on principle, are there passing references about her sexuality, or are there unabashed scenes where Chavez flirts with another woman that the Arabian censors so despise?
No one will know until the film officially premieres.
Nevertheless, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be releasing in Singapore on 4 May at the cinemas near you.
The movie is directed by Sam Raimi, the film-maker behind the first Spider-Man trilogy played by Tobey Maguire, which is almost a stamp of guarantee that the new movie will be an entertaining watch at least.
Honestly speaking, it’s quite fortunate that Singapore tends to a ‘keep one eye closed’ stance on the entire topic of homosexuality, even if it isn’t technically legal.
Whereas for the For the Saudi Arabians, Kuwaitis, and Qataris, you can always wait for the film to be released on Disney+ or the pirating sites near you, with an internet proxy switched on, if you wish to catch the movie.
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Featured Image: Marvel Studios
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