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The intrigue over Victoria Alonso’s abrupt exit from Marvel continues.
On March 24, THR exclusively reported that Disney fired Alonso for breach of contract, due to her work on the Oscar-nominated feature Argentina, 1985, which was made by Amazon. Last week, Disney indicated the dismissal was due to “an indisputable breach of contract and a direct violation of company policy.”
Alonso, through attorney Patty Glaser, pushed back at this explanation for the firing, saying in a statement at the time, “Victoria, a gay Latina who had the courage to criticize Disney, was silenced. Then she was terminated when she refused to do something she believed was reprehensible.”
Some insiders at Disney believe the “reprehensible” act referenced by Glaser was a request to censor gay Pride references in the latest Ant-Man movie for the Kuwait market, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.
In January, as Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania was being readied for release, word came down that Marvel executives wanted an editor to blur a storefront window that featured rainbow decorations and the word “Pride” for the version of the film to be released in Kuwait, which has restrictive anti-LGBTQ laws. The storefront was shown in two brief scenes in which Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) walked down a San Francisco street.
Alonso, who is gay, was an outspoken proponent of inclusion during her time at Marvel. She publicly challenged then-CEO Bob Chapek to push back against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill — as did colleagues at sister company Pixar — and she championed diverse stories.
The Quantumania request reached Alonso, who refused to have her team make the edit as part of her duties overseeing visual effects and postproduction at Marvel, insiders say. Marvel then went to an outside vendor to see the edit through.
There were several other changes to the film for Kuwait, which is the only country in which the Pride references were blurred, according to sources. The edit also removed references to alcohol that would have run afoul of local authorities, and it removed the animated butt cheeks of the character M.O.D.O.K. (played by Corey Stoll).
Reps for Disney and for Alonso declined to comment.
Hollywood studios have long struggled with censorship in countries with anti-LGBTQ laws, particularly those in the Middle East. For Kuwait, Disney removed a moment of affection in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever between Michaela Coel’s character Aneka and Florence Kasumba’s Ayo. In other instances, Disney declined to make edits, with insiders noting Disney would not edit out moments deemed integral to the story. Pixar’s Lightyear was banned in Saudi Arabia over a same-gender kiss, while Marvel’s Eternals was banned in multiple countries, as the film featured the same-gender marriage between Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), and his onscreen husband, Ben (Haaz Sleiman).
Disney’s policy regarding edits is as follows: “In countries where we operate, we seek to share our stories in their original form as we and the artists involved have created them. If we make edits because of legal or other considerations, they will be as narrow as possible. We will not make an edit where we believe it would impact the storytelling. In that circumstance, we will not distribute the content in that market.”
A year ago, Alonso spoke at the GLAAD media awards, amid Disney’s dispute with Florida over “Don’t Say Gay.” Taking the podium, she made a plea to Chapek to take a stand: “So I ask you again Mr. Chapek: Please respect if we’re selling family, take a stand against all of these crazy outdated laws. Take a stand for the family.”
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