Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is an upcoming American superhero film based on Marvel Comics’ Doctor Strange. Despite worldwide excitement, the film has reportedly been banned in Saudi Arabia due to having a gay character. Hopes that Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness would break Marvel’s curse of not releasing movies in China may now be dashed.
The Benedict Cumberbatch-starrer has caused a stir on local social media. It’s due to a scene in the sequel’s opening scene in which a newspaper kiosk bears the Chinese characters for The Epoch Times, an international multi-language newspaper and media company that opposes the Chinese Communist Party.
According to Deadline sources, Doctor Strange 2 has been submitted to Chinese authorities for review, but a release date has not yet been nixed or approved. The current uproar appears to have been fueled by netizens performing a frame-by-frame analysis of the scene in question.
To wit, Doctor Strange fights Gargantos in New York City’s streets, with the kiosk in the background. It appears briefly to the left of the screen. We didn’t notice it when we saw it for the first time at CinemaCon this week because we were focused on the action and the story. However, this is clearly not the case for those who obsess over every detail. In the video below, if you blink, you’ll miss it.
Disney has not commented, but it is difficult to believe that the studio is unaware of the situation. There are a lot of hopes riding on Doctor Strange 2, whose predecessor grossed $109 million in the PRC, where no Marvel film has been released since Avengers: Endgame.
Not only from a Hollywood standpoint, but on the recent anniversary of Endgame’s 2019 release, Chinese social media was flooded with mentions of “I love you 3000.” That film grossed $629 million in China. In the midst of the pandemic, Marvel was ostensibly blackballed.
Dates were not set for Black Widow, Eternals, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, or Spider-Man: No Way Home. There are various theories as to why this occurred, some of which trace back to Black Widow’s depiction of communism, while the slate of films may have been a no-go as soon as years-old comments allegedly made by Eternals helmer Chloé Zhao surfaced in early 2021. Similarly, comments made by Shang-Chi star Simu Liu in 2017 have come to light, clearly complicating matters in the minds of the government and the propaganda department that oversees film.
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