Marvel’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” has been banned from theaters in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Persian Gulf countries.
The ban is due to the presence of a gay character in the upcoming Marvel movie. Movies that feature LGBTQ+ characters or even references to them are often censored or outright banned in many Persian Gulf countries because homosexuality is illegal in those regions.
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Marvel, which is owned by Walt Disney Corporation DIS,
faces a similar ban with his 2021 film “Eternals”; he was banned across the Persian Gulf for his portrayal of a same-sex couple and the first openly gay superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Dr. Strange movie features the character America Chavez, a lesbian heroine who first appeared in Marvel Comics in 2011. The Chavez character is played by Xochitl Gomez.
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Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, along with other Persian Gulf countries, also censored the film “West Side Story” for its inclusion of a transgender character, and Pixar’s “Onward” due to a reference to lesbian parents.
The ban on these films applies to theatrical releases in these countries, the report says.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was originally slated for release in the Persian Gulf on May 5; the film was released on schedule this week in the United States.
Disney did not respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment on this story.
The news comes as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis pushes to end Disney’s self-government rules in apparent retaliation for the company’s remarks about the Parental Rights in Education Act, informally known as “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The law bans teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, a policy that has drawn attention from people who argue it marginalizes LGBTQ+ people.
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DeSantis previously said Disney “crossed a line” in attacking the law.
During its box office opening weekend, the Doctor Strange sequel hinted at the biggest opening weekend of 2022.