Disney is reportedly refusing the cave to Saudi Arabia’s demand to cut 12 seconds alluding to America Chavez’s “two moms” from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Fan response is mixed, as some praise Disney for standing their ground, while others say they’ll eventually give in for China’s bigger market.
Big blockbusters having to adapt to global markets is nothing new. Earlier this month, it was revealed Warner Bros. removed gay dialogue from the most recent Fantastic Beasts movie for distribution in China. MCU’s own Eternals was banned from release in various Middle Eastern countries due to its portrayal of a gay couple, which Disney refused to edit out, and it looks like Doctor Strange 2 will suffer the same fate.
Disney’s recent refusal to cave to international markets’ demands has meant not a single MCU Phase 4 film has been approved to premiere in China, while a tug of war over LGBT+ content continues to block premieres in Saudi Arabia.
“Great that Disney isn’t breaking on this. Also incredibly sad that 12 seconds are what causes a ban,” a fan shared. Another pointed out that Disney is under pressure to maintain its stance on LGBT+ rights after the company publicly opposed Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill: “No way Disney could backtrack on gay [rights] in the middle [of their] fight with [D]esantis and Florida on the issue.”.
Others, on the other hand, aren’t so impressed since 12 seconds of LGBT+ content are next to nothing and don’t mean much in regards to the quality of Disney’s portrayal of this community on the big screen. “My takeaway from this is that the entirety of LGBTQ+ material in Doctor Strange 2 is a 12-second scene where America Chavez mentions her two moms,” a netizen said on Reddit.
Considering America Chavez is a lesbian in the source material, fans were expecting her role in the film would come down to more than just a mere 12 seconds of explicit gay dialogue. However, another Reddit user pointed out that because of Multiverse of Madness’s packed plot, Disney wouldn’t “have time to do a romantic side-plot with America.”.
Despite Black Widow, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, Venom: Let There Be Carnage and No Way Home not getting a China release, fans still think Disney would eventually cave on the issue if it meant finally releasing an MCU film in the Asian country again. Saudi Arabia, they argue, is not as huge a market as China, and so taking these types of stances doesn’t hurt Disney much financially. “The marketing this gives them far outweighs the cost of it not being in Saudi theaters,” one user said.
“Yeah, when they have virtually no consequences and minimal loss in profits in an international release, it’s super easy to look brave and say no. If China hadn’t preemptively banned foreign films, you’d better believe that scene would be altered or removed in a heartbeat. Disney only cares so far as their image goes in this.”.
It’s hard to say what motivates companies’ decisions when it comes to divisive issues like LGBT+ rights. It’s also difficult to assert whether Disney is on the right path or coming in a little too late. But, considering other companies like Warner Bros. are still pandering to homophobic international pressures, maybe Disney can cautiously be praised just this time around.
We Got This Covered has reached out to Disney for comment.