Saudi call for Doctor Strange cut an 'expected disappointment': Cumberbatch

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British actor Benedict Cumberbatch is best known internationally for playing Doctor Strange in the films featuring the Marvel Comics character (AFP/Geoff Robins) (Geoff Robins)
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British actor Benedict Cumberbatch on Tuesday said he was disappointed but not surprised that Saudi Arabia had asked Disney to cut "LGBTQ references" from its latest Marvel film.

"It's difficult not to become emotional about it to be honest," said Cumberbatch, who plays the lead role in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness".

"But it is, I'm afraid, an expected disappointment," he was quoted as saying by Britain's domestic Press Association news agency.

Disney has so far refused to implement the requested edits so that the film can be screened in the religiously conservative Gulf kingdom where homosexuality can be a capital offence.

Saudi Arabia's general supervisor of cinema classification said the cut related to a 12-second passage in which one character refers to her "two moms".

"Being in the Middle East, it's very tough to pass something like this," said Nawaf Alsabhan, insisting the film, which is due to release next month, was not banned.

Cumberbatch, Oscar-nominated this year for best actor for his role in "The Power of the Dog", said "repressive regimes" were known for being "exclusionary".

"It feels truly out of step with everything that we've experienced as a species, let alone where we're at globally as a culture," he added.

"But frankly, it's just even more reason why this isn't tokenism to include an LGBTQ+ community member. The character is from the comics, it's not something we've created for the sake of diversity."

He added: "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."

Cumberbatch was previously nominated for an Oscar in 2015 for "The Imitation Game" about British wartime codebreaker Alan Turing, who was chemically castrated for being gay.

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