Marvel Studios has recently been in the limelight due to a behind-the-scenes disagreement involving former executive Victoria Alonso. The dispute arose over the removal of gay pride references in ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ for the Kuwaiti audience. This issue came to the fore following Alonso’s departure from Disney, which she asserts was a consequence of her refusal to comply with the censorship.
Alonso’s Dismissal and Her Response
On March 24, The Hollywood Reporter exclusively revealed that Disney terminated Alonso’s contract, citing her involvement in the Oscar-nominated film ‘Argentina, 1985’ produced by Amazon. Disney maintained that her dismissal was due to “an indisputable breach of contract and a direct violation of company policy.” Through her attorney Patty Glaser, Alonso refuted this explanation, claiming she was silenced and fired for rejecting a request she deemed morally wrong.
The Controversial Request: Censoring Gay Pride References
Disney insiders speculate that the morally wrong request Glaser mentioned was an attempt to censor gay pride references in the latest Ant-Man movie for the Kuwaiti market. In January, as ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania‘ was being prepared for release, Marvel executives sought an editor to obscure a storefront window displaying rainbow decorations and the word “Pride” in the film’s Kuwaiti version, given the country’s stringent anti-LGBTQ regulations. The storefront appeared briefly in two scenes featuring Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) walking down a San Francisco street.
Who’s Victoria Alonso?
Victoria Alonso, born on December 22, 1965, hails from Buenos Aires. At 19, she moved to the US, began her career as a Production Assistant, and steadily advanced in the industry, working for four years at the VFX company Digital Domain. Alonso has been a VFX producer on films such as Tim Burton’s ‘Big Fish,’ Ridley Scott’s ‘Kingdom of Heaven,’ Marvel’s ‘Iron Man,’ and Andrew Adamson’s ‘Shrek.’ She later joined Marvel as the executive vice president of visual effects and post-production. She co-produced films like ‘Iron Man,’ ‘Iron Man 2,’ ‘Thor,’ and ‘Captain America: The First Avenger.’
As a producer, Latina, and influential female executive, Victoria Alonso has emerged as a formidable advocate in Hollywood. She was listed in The Hollywood Reporter’s 2017/2018 Women in Entertainment Power 100. She received the Muse Award for Outstanding Vision and Achievement from the New York Women in Film & Television in 2015.
Alonso’s Advocacy and Refusal to Comply
Alonso, who identifies as gay, actively promoted inclusivity during her tenure at Marvel. She publicly urged then-CEO Bob Chapek to oppose Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and championed diverse narratives.
When the request to edit ‘Quantumania’ reached Alonso, she declined to involve her team in making the changes, prompting Marvel to enlist the services of an external vendor. Kuwait is the sole country where the Pride references were obscured, and additional edits were made to eliminate references to alcohol and the animated butt cheeks of the character M.O.D.O.K.
The Ongoing Struggle with Censorship in Hollywood
Hollywood studios have long grappled with censorship in countries with anti-LGBTQ laws, particularly in the Middle East. Disney has previously removed L.G.B.T.Q. Content for Kuwait, such as a tender moment in ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,’ but has also refused to edit scenes considered essential to the story. Pixar’s ‘Lightyear‘ was banned in Saudi Arabia due to a same-gender kiss, and Marvel’s ‘Eternals’ faced bans in several countries for depicting a same-gender marriage.
Disney’s policy on edits emphasizes the intention to share stories in their original form and only make edits when required by legal or other factors, without compromising the storytelling. If an edit would impact the story, Disney will not distribute the content in that market.
Alonso’s Appeal for Action
A year ago, Alonso spoke at the G.L.A.A.D. Media Awards during Disney’s conflict with Florida over the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Addressing the stage, she implored Chapek to take a stand against archaic laws and support L.G.B.T.Q. Families: “So I ask you again, Mr. Chapek: Please respect if we’re selling family, take a stand against all these crazy outdated laws. Take a stand for the family.”
As the controversy surrounding Alonso’s departure continues, the censorship of ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ underscores the ongoing obstacles faced by L.G.B.T.Q. representation in the world of entertainment.