Benedict Cumberbatch responds to Doctor Strange 2’s ban in some countries because of its inclusion of an LGBTQ+ character. NWH star Benedict Cumberbatch is still reeling from his Oscar-nominated roles as Phil Burbank in The Power of Dogs and Doctor Strange in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Cumberbatch has returned to the press tour to promote the May 6 release of Stephen Strange’s second solo film, which sees the titular sorcerer embark on a dimension-hopping journey of his own.
Elizabeth Olsen plays Wanda Maximoff, aka Scarlett Witch, alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in the cast of the Multiverse of Madness. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Rachel McAdams are all back from the first Doctor Strange film as Karl Mordo, Wong, Nicodemus West, and Christine Palmer, respectively. Xochitl Gomez makes her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut as America Chavez, a teenager who possesses the ability to move between dimensions by punching open doorways. Doctor Strange 2’s ban came into existence in several Gulf countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar, because of its depiction of Chavez as an LGBTQ+ character.
In light of the film’s recent international censorship, Cumberbatch, who plays Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, has responded to the situation. Cumberbatch called the decision an “expected disappointment,” but he’s pleased that Disney and Marvel are continuing to advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion and equality in their films and shows.
Benedict Cumberbatch addresses #DoctorStrange in the Multiverse of Madness being banned in countries for inclusion of a LGBTQ+ character.
“It’s an expected disappointment…We still have to push for inclusion, and I’m very glad…Marvel and Disney are doing that.” pic.twitter.com/RfOcyjNwEg
— Doctor Strange Updates (@DrStrangeUpdate) April 26, 2022
Here are all of his thoughts:
It is, I’m afraid, an expected disappointment. We’ve come to know from those repressive regimes that their lack of tolerance is exclusionary to people who deserve to be, not only included, but celebrated for who they are and made to feel part of a society and a culture and not punished for their sexuality. It feels truly out of step with everything that we’ve experienced as a species, let alone where we’re at globally more as a culture, but frankly it’s just even more reason why this isn’t tokenism to include an LGBTQ+ community member. This character is that from the comics. It’s not something we’ve created for the sake of diversity.
We’ve included her because of how awesome she is as a character. And that’s just one aspect of her character and that’s all it should be, but sadly, it’s also now, politically, very charged. And I wish it wasn’t. I wish we could be having a normalized conversation about this where it wasn’t an issue but we’re not. So we still have to fight. We still have to push for inclusion and equality and I’m very glad in a small, but on a very big canvas, Marvel and Disney are doing that.
Disney refused to censor a scene from Doctor Strange 2 that includes a reference to the LGBTQ+ community for international release despite a request from Saudi Arabia. As in the comics, America Chavez is a lesbian character, but the scene in question is “barely 12 seconds” in which she discusses her “two moms.” Although Disney refused to censor the reference, the film’s release in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states will almost certainly be prohibited as a result.
According to Cumberbatch, Saudi Arabia’s request is an “expected disappointment,” as homosexuality is still illegal in the kingdom and several other Gulf countries. For the first time in the MCU, an openly gay hero and same-sex kiss were featured in Eternals. Even though Disney was under pressure to censor Eternals, they stood firm for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and this is a positive step forward for the studio.