Benedict Cumberbatch is not impressed by “repressive regimes” banning films for their inclusion of LGTBQ characters.
The Marvel actor criticized a recent ruling in which his upcoming film “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness” was allegedly banned in multiple Middle East states for a 12-second scene where America Chavez, a new character played by Xochitl Gomez, references her “two mums.”
The move also follows an “Eternals” same-sex kissing scene leading to the film’s ban in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.
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“It’s difficult not to become emotional about it, to be honest. But it is, I’m afraid, an expected disappointment,” Cumberbatch told the PA News Agency.
“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 a part of a society and a culture and not punished for their sexuality,” he continued.
The English actor, who plays Doctor Strange himself, feels that the ban is “truly out of step with everything that we’ve experienced as a species, let alone where we’re at globally as a culture.”
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He added that including Chavez in the film, who’s gay in the comics, “isn’t tokenism.”
“We’ve included her because of how awesome she is as a character. And (her sexuality is) just one aspect of her character. And that’s all it should be,” Cumberbatch said.
The “Sherlock” star noted that although “we still have to fight” and “push for inclusion and equality,” he’s “very glad” that Marvel and Disney are doing that “in a small way but on a very big canvas.”
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Elizabeth Olsen, who stars as Wanda Maximoff, opposite Cumberbatch in “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness”, added that “it’s too bad fans in other countries won’t be able to see [the film]” but she “hopes they find ways to see it.”
“We’re not in control of that as actors, or even people higher up from us. So it’s definitely disappointing for fans, but I also am proud to be a part of a film that represents and stands for inclusion and diversity,” Olsen shared.
“Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness” hits theatres May 5.