Saudi Arabia has requested that an LGBTQ scene from the MCU film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness be cut. Disney and Marvel choose not to, says the kingdom’s ratings body.
The Guardian says 12 seconds featuring America Chavez, a lesbian character, mentioning her “two moms” has been flagged for removal. “It’s just that she talks about her moms, because she has two moms, and being in the Middle East, it’s very difficult to pass something like that,” told Agence France-Presse Nawaf Alsabhan, general supervisor of cinema classification in Saudi Arabia. . “We sent it to the distributor, and the distributor sent it to Disney, and Disney told us they didn’t want it.”
With Saudi Arabia’s strict requirements for depictions of gay people, there had been reports that the fantasy film would be banned entirely unless certain moments were removed. “It will never be banned,” says Alsabhan. “There is no reason to ban the film. It’s a simple modification – so far they have refused. But we haven’t closed the door. We always try.
Similar requests were made last year to Eternals, another movie that featured a gay couple. When Disney refused, the sci-fi film was not released in Saudi Arabia.
The film culture there has been in a state of flux lately. In 2017, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman banned cinemas, after being banned for 35 years, as part of his ongoing attempts to steer the region away from entrenched conservative values.
Audiences contributed a total of $238 million to the worldwide box office in 2021. Whether they’ll see Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness remains to be seen – it will hit theaters in the UK and US. United on May 6.