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Xochitl Gomez with 'Doctor Strange' co-star Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of 'Spider-Man: No Way Home.' Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic.
Xochitl Gomez with 'Doctor Strange' co-star Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of 'Spider-Man: No Way Home.' Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic.

America Chavez, a character in the latest ‘Doctor Strange’ film, stirs controversy in Saudi Arabia and beyond for LGBTQ+ background

America Chavez is a featured character in Marvel’s latest ‘Doctor Strange’ film. Her LGBTQ+ background has led some countries to pull the sequel from theaters.

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Marvel Studio’s latest picture, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters this Friday, May 6. The film is directed by Sam Raimi.

The sequel follows up on 2016’s eponymous Doctor Strange, directed by Scott Derrickson. Both movies focus on the titular sorcerer whose Marvel Cinematic Universe appearances now span over five films.

In 2016, the character’s first film was accused of whitewashing for their casting of Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, a character who is of Tibetan descent within the source material.

Following the controversy of their last outing, the creative team of Doctor Strange is once again embroiled in a very different kind of pushback.

Multiverse of Madness has been banned in Saudi Arabia for featuring a character who mentions a same-sex relationship.

In the film, superhero America Chavez, played by Xochitl Gomez, mentions being raised by two women. 

The mention led to the upcoming film’s banning in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, and Qatar.

Disney Studios was requested by Saudi officials to censor the film for Saudi Arabian audiences and deliver an edited version, but the company declined.

America Chavez first appeared in Marvel Comics in 2011. She has used the aliases of Miss America, Ms. America, and even Captain America for a period.

The character has long been noted for depicting a hero as both Latina and a member of the LGBTQ+ community. 

In her Multiverse of Madness appearance, it seems Chavez’s LGBTQ+ background ends with her parents. 

This suggests a higher probability of pushback if Chavez herself or a different character were to later come out on-screen.

The banning of the Doctor Strange sequel in these countries comes after Disney marked a stance with LGBTQ+ viewers.

The decision arrived after the company was pressed by Florida Republicans to pick a side between the community and anti-LGBTQ+ politicians and activists. 

On the line was the company’s status as a special tax district in the state. They are now to lose their status.

With Disney’s decision to disobey Florida lawmakers and activists, the company has been under the watchful eye of these groups who feel Disney has betrayed them.

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