Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness has been banned in Saudi Arabia over the inclusion of a queer character in the film.
The new Marvel sequel focused on Benedict Cumberbatch‘s titular character is due to roll out globally at the beginning of next month.
However, following rumours of a ban, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that the film now won’t be released in Saudi Arabia, with Kuwait reportedly also set to ban it. Advanced tickets are no longer available in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, though are still in the United Arab Emirates.
The censorship appears to be over the inclusion of the character America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), who is gay in the comic source material.
There is often strong censorship on films with LGBTQ+ content in the Gulf as homosexuality is still illegal across the region.
Recent Marvel film Eternals was previously banned in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar over a same-sex kiss scene between married couple Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) and Ben (Haaz Sleiman), with Disney reportedly refusing to edit out the moment upon request from local censors.
Star Angelina Jolie subsequently addressed the news, telling news.com.au: “I’m sad for [those audiences]. And I’m proud of Marvel for refusing to cut those scenes out.
“I still don’t understand how we live in a world today where there’s still [people who] would not see the family Phastos has and the beauty of that relationship and that love. How anybody is angry about it, threatened by it, doesn’t approve or appreciate it is ignorant.”
Ahead of Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness‘ release, Cumberbatch has suggested that the film will be as successful as the recent Spider-Man: No Way Home, which became the sixth-highest grossing film of all time.
“It’s a big, big movie,” he told Empire (via Screenrant). “It’s going to be an absolute riot. And if it brings off the level of ambition it’s got, we’re going to have a success on the level of Spidey. There you go, I’ll put my flag in the sand.”