Although it is poised to become one of the most successful films of the year, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is having display issues. Sam Raimi’s film will not be shown in theaters in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Egypt. The reason? The twelve seconds in which the character of América Chavez (Xóchitl Gómez) explains its origin. The scene shows a backtrack and reveal which caused controversy in several Middle Eastern markets. That the new Marvel superheroine is the daughter of two mothers.
How explicit is the scene that prompted the censorship? In fact, you could say it’s a background sequence that helps to better understand Marvel’s new character. Beyond his sexual orientation – which in the comics is quite clear -, this is a direct reference to the character’s biological history. In the comic, two origin stories are told that chronicle the birth of America, similar to each other but with sizable differences that could be confusing. For sequel to Doctor Strange in the multiverse of madnessscreenwriter Michael Waldron clarifies which one is correct, as well as the origin of his powers.
The controversial twelve-second scene subtly details the mystery surrounding America. The sequence occurs after Strange and America’s dizzying journey through multiple universes. Finally, the two manage to achieve an idyllic-looking multiversal line with state-of-the-art technology. Once they decide to explore it, they cross a busy street that shows what appears to be a popular invention in this reality.
It is a system that allows memories to be analyzed as projected images “before they can be forgotten”. Strange attempts novelty and for a few moments the image of one of his dates with Christine Palmer in which they are both noticeably younger is visible. A few minutes later, it’s America’s turn. To Strange’s surprise, what the technology shows is that the character is a girl, on a colorful, radiant planet. And that’s when the mothers of América Chávez make their appearance. Both exchange smiles and a few affectionate gestures before an unstoppable drama occurs, the result of the powers of their little girl.
Doctor Strange’s Twelve Seconds of Discord in the Multiverse of Madness
The revelation was inadmissible for some countries with strict regulations against the LGTBIQ+ community. In fact, in some mere mention of sexual orientation is prohibited. Several of the information regulatory entities and those in charge of licensing the exploitation of foreign cinema have asked Marvel to eliminate the conflicting scenes. This includes an entire sequence and at least three other mentions of the character’s family. Marvel declined the request, so the sequel Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness cannot be exhibited in its entirety in at least five countries.
This isn’t the first time Marvel has refused to remove images, information, or scenes from their films due to censorship requests. The most recent cause Eternals could not be exhibited in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar. The decision was also due to a whole scene in which the plot explores the sexual orientation of one of its characters. In the footage, Phastos can be seen exchanging affectionate phrases and even a kiss with her husband.
However, in the case of América Chávez – a character openly from the LGTBIQ+ community in film – the dilemma is more complicated. It’s not just about the sexual orientation of the franchise’s newest heroine. Also its origin which clearly indicates that it belongs to a couple of women. Even though it is a story that clearly takes place in another universe and place, the information was scandalous for the ruling bodies of the countries of the Middle East.
This uncomfortable business of representation
the scene of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness which caused censorship in various countries is not as explicit as that of eternal. In fact, it is a confirmation on the origin of the character. When America first appeared in the comic world in 2011, it is reported that the character was born on the all-female planet Utopian Parallel. For the year 2021, the comic strip America Chavez: made in the USA rewrites history and gives you a more conventional one.
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According to the story written by Kalinda Vazquez, America and her previously unknown sister Catalina lived with their mothers on an island on earth. Also called Utopian Parallel, it was the supposed center of an investigation that was aborted by the greed of the project’s mysterious benefactor. Finally, apparently the story that will hit the big screen is one that places America as an alien creature with inexplicable powers.