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Saudi Arabia Banned Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness Over 12 Seconds Of Film

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" is fast approaching, and from what we've seen thus far it may just be one of the most important movies in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. The introduction of the multiverse has been a major focus of the MCU's Phase 4 thus far, featuring prominently in "Spider-Man: No Way Home," as well as the Disney+ series "Loki" and "WandaVision." It seems like Doctor Strange's (Benedict Cumberbatch) latest misadventure will pick up where those projects leave off and explore all of the maddening possibilities that the multiverse has to offer.

It also seems like the film will be setting up Strange for a major role in the future of the MCU as a whole. Kevin Feige himself referred to Strange as the "anchor" of the MCU in a speech at his Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony (via Variety), and one has to assume that this title means there will be big things ahead for the Sorcerer Supreme in the upcoming film and beyond.

All told, it seems like "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" will herald the next big step forward for the MCU. Unfortunately, there are still some places where fans might miss out on this next step, including Saudi Arabia, which recently banned the movie due to an incredibly minor piece of dialogue.

Saudi Arabia took issue with a reference to a lesbian relationship

According to Variety, Saudi Arabia has banned "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" due to 12 seconds of dialogue focusing on the lesbian mothers of America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez). The report states that Disney was unwilling to remove a piece of dialogue wherein Chavez references her two moms, and as such, the film has been banned in Saudi Arabia until further notice.

Nawaf Alsabhan, the supervisor of cinema classification in Saudi Arabia, clarified that the issue is not with Chavez herself (as she is also gay) but only has to do with the film's reference to same-sex marriage. "It's just her talking about her moms, because she had two moms," Alsabhan told Agence France-Presse, "And being in the Middle East, it's very tough to pass something like this" (via The Guardian). Alsabhan also stated that Saudi Arabia would be willing to lift the ban if Disney agreed to edit out the dialogue, though until that happens the film will not be released.

This is not the first time that a Marvel film has been banned in Saudi Arabia for depicting LGBTQ+ relationships. Chloé Zhao's "Eternals” received a ban for its depiction of Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) and his husband Ben (Haaz Sleiman). Considering the fact that same-sex marriage remains illegal in Saudi Arabia (and films depicting any sort of same-sex relationship are routinely cut or censored within the country) fans probably shouldn't expect "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" to be released there anytime soon –- unless Disney ends up complying and cutting those 12 seconds from the final film.