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Why Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness Got Banned In Saudi Arabia

It's official: "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" has been banned from movie theaters in Saudi Arabia, as well as in Kuwait and Qatar (via The Hollywood Reporter). Unfortunately for fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe who live in the Persian Gulf, it appears that the film has run afoul of censors in at least three countries, putting its future release in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in doubt.

It's not the first time that Disney and Marvel's productions have found themselves on the wrong end of official censors in the Middle East. Last year, "Eternals" ran into a similar situation after Disney reportedly refused to make edits requested by some of these countries.

It appears that "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" will be a hard film to see in the region, with one reported exception: the United Arab Emirates, where advance tickets are still available for sale.

It's a major disruption in Disney's planned global release of the newest "Doctor Strange" installment, which is scheduled for May 6.

Censors object to America Chavez, a gay superheroine

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" will feature the Marvel Cinematic Universe debut of America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), also known to Marvel Comics readers as the superpowered Miss America.

Chavez is canonically gay in the comics, and her inclusion in the MCU film franchise has the potential to be a representation milestone. Unfortunately, a recent report from The Hollywood Reporter confirms that this is exactly why censors in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region are objecting to the film's theatrical release.

LGBTQ characters and themes are often a sticking point for censors in countries where homosexuality is criminalized — "Eternals" faced its own censorship situation for the same reason. According to THR, Steven Spielberg's recent Hollywood production of "West Side Story" was banned from theaters in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and Kuwait, over the transgender characterization of Anybodys (Iris Menas).