Even though Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is far from being released in China, it is already beginning to stir up some measure of controversy there. That's due to a fight scene recently released online, featuring an anti-Chinese Communist Party news outlet.
The IMDb-exclusive clip saw the Master of the Mystic Arts defend the streets of New York against the mystical, inter-dimensional monster Gargantos. During the sequence, a newsrack briefly appears in several shots, sporting Chinese characters on its side. It translates to "Da Ji Yuan Times," which is another name for the Epoch Times newspaper. Audiences have started to take notice, with pro-CCP supporters criticizing the film and others noting how this may make it even more unlikely for the film to screen in China.
The Epoch Times is a right-wing news outlet known to be associated with the Falun Gong religious movement, whose leaders have been the subject of controversy in the past, due to views and preachings that have been condemned as being anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-science. Falun Gong practitioners have been heavily persecuted in China, with many being detained as prisoners of conscience. More importantly, an investigation carried out in 2006 found that these prisoners were then made victims of forced organ harvesting to supply the country's organ transplant industry.
It is worth noting that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness does not yet have a release date in China. This is the latest instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be excluded from the country's screens, with the last one enjoying a Chinese release being 2019's Spider-Man: Far From Home. While many projects, including Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals have had minor controversies attached that contributed to the virtual ban, several projects have been excluded despite making it past state censors, such as Black Widow and Spider-Man: No Way Home.
But if China is shutting the latest MCU film out, it would not be the first to do so. Multiverse of Madness was recently banned from screens in Egypt, Kuwait and more, because of its inclusion of an openly gay superhero: America Chavez.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is scheduled to hit theaters on May 6.