Marvel’s latest film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, has been banned from Saudi Arabia due to the film’s inclusion of a queer superhero.

America Chavez: Marvel’s First Latin American LGBTQI character in a Series

The queer character at the centre of this is Marvel’s America Chavez, a lesbian character played by Xochitl Gomez. Chavez is Marvel’s first Latin American character to star in an ongoing LGBTQI series.

First appearing in Vengeance #1 (2011), a limited comic series co-created by Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta, Chavez has been known to use the moniker ‘Miss America’, with the main attraction being her ability to open “star portals” that enable her to travel to different dimensions of Marvel’s multiverse.

Prior to Marvel’s confirmation of an additional LGBTQI character to their universe, their officially licensed merch appeared on Amazon with prints of Chavez’s signature denim jacket, which featured a pride flag pin, a skull referencing the Mexican Day of the Dead, and her Latin American heritage.

Not The First Time Saudi Arabia Has Banned a Marvel Movie

This is not the first time that Saudi Arabia has banned a film from the banner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Chloe Zhao’s, Eternals (2021) was pulled from theatres in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait after Disney depicted a same-sex relationship between Phastos, the first openly gay superhero in the MCU, and his husband.

The ban reflects the criminalisation of homosexuality in the Gulf region, specifically in Saudi Arabia where LGBTQI rights are not recognised by the government and same-sex acts are punishable by beatings, torture, and imprisonment up to life.

According to Fandango, the Doctor Strange sequel has beat the record for pre-sales this year, overtaking The Batman.

Multiverse of Madness will also act as a sequel to No Way Home, after the post-credits in the film teased Strange’s connection to the Spiderman franchise.

Marvel Phase Four Continues

Phase Four of the MCU (films set to release from 2021-2023) has seen Marvel Studios steering more queer representation for their audience.

Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder, set to hit theatres in July this year, will follow bisexual character, Valkyrie, and is reported to show a queer relationship on screen.

Loki, a favourite from Thor, was also confirmed to be bisexual in the third episode of the titular series, last year.

Though strides by Marvel Studios have progressed queer representation on-screen, there are still many restrictions in some countries, where the release of films can be blocked, and scenes are routinely cut or edited to comply with censorship regulations.

Advanced tickets for the film are no longer available in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, or Qatar. However, they are still on sale in the United Arab Emirates so people will be able to watch the film in theatres there.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is set to be released in theatres on May 5.

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