Benedict Wong Defends ‘Doctor Strange’ Teen Star Against Homophobic Bullying

Surely, in some other universe, a teenager isn’t being abused online by adult fans of a superhero franchise.

But alas, in this consistently disappointing 16-year-old “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness” star, Xochitl Gomez, has become the target of a harassment campaign due to LGBTQ references to her character in the show. next blockbuster. .

Gomez plays multiverse-jumping America Chavez in the Marvel sequel, which was banned in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere after Disney refused to cut the young superheroine’s dialogue that references her lesbian mothers. The character is canonically lesbian in the film’s comedic source material.

“It’s a big deal that the United States is in this movie. It’s huge. And I’m so happy that Marvel has stuck to that and kept the scene there,” Gomez told Asia One during a recent press tour interview. “And it’s pretty crazy that I’m the one to play America. Although, yes, my name may be in a circle within the hate and stuff, but it’s okay.

When Benedict Wong, who plays the sorcerer Wong in the film franchise, learned that his young co-star was on the receiving end of social media vitriol, he jumped to her defense.

“It’s not okay. It’s not okay,” Wong said “without skipping a beat,” according to Asia One. “We have to all collectively understand that. … He auditioned at 13 and joined us at 14, one of the youngest actors to join the MCU from a movie of that magnitude. You know, she’s just a kid playing her role and all the praise for it.”

“There is a real level of shame for all those trolls who are cowards for not putting their face [out there], and they should feel deep shame for what they are doing,” Wong added. “We are all going to play well. Let’s all enjoy what we are representing. It’s sad that fans in that country can’t see this. But all we’re doing is radiating representation, giving voice to the voiceless. And that’s all we can do: represent people so they can be seen.”

In recent weeks, Gomez’s Instagram has been flooded with messages from trolls lashing out at the studio’s decision not to remove LGBTQ content from the film. Many personally blamed the actor.

The “Doctor Strange” sequel isn’t the first Marvel movie to face challenges abroad. 2021’s “The Eternals” studio was pulled from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait over a kiss between Brian Tree Henry’s character Phastos and her on-screen husband played by Haaz Sleiman, the first same-sex kiss in Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Despite the backlash, Gomez said she was immensely proud to become the first Latina LGBTQ superhero in the ever-expanding and diversifying film franchise.

“I understand that certain lands have certain rules and I live in a land where our rules are those of inclusion,” Gomez told Deadline at the premiere this week. “And we will continue to fight for inclusion in every place, city and state so that every child who doesn’t see himself can at least see a little bit of what he can become.”

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