'Spider-Man' is edited in the U.K. to remove a homophobic joke

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·Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
·4-min read
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Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe in Spider-Man (Photo: Columbia/courtesy Everett Collection)
Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man and Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin in 2002's Spider-Man. (Photo: Columbia/courtesy Everett Collection)

As Sam Raimi's 2002 blockbuster, Spider-Man, approaches its 20th anniversary, there are some elements of the franchise-launching film that some feel belong in the past. During a recent airing on Britain's ITV network on April 23, an offensive joke was removed from the movie after years of complaints by fans that it was homophobic.

In a statement to Variety, ITV confirmed that the joke had been edited out of its Spider-Man broadcast. "We carefully consider the suitability of content we broadcast and appropriateness of language used to ensure that it meets audience expectations, especially when intended for family viewing," the statement reads.

Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker in Sam Raimi's 2002 blockbuster, Spider-Man. (Photo: Columbia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)
Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker in Sam Raimi's 2002 blockbuster, Spider-Man. (Photo: Columbia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)

The offending joke occurs early on in the film, during a sequence where a post-spider bite Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) shows up in a homemade costume to tangle with fearsome wrestler Bonesaw McGraw (played by real-life wrestler "Macho Man" Randy Savage). Using his newfound powers to stick to the side of the cage encircling the ring, the superhero-to-be taunts his rival.

"That's a cute outfit," Peter tells Bonesaw. "Did your husband give it to you?" According to Variety, the ITV broadcast shortened the exchange so that Peter simply says: "That's a cute outfit."

Peter's ill-advised quip has previously been called out by some Spider-Man fans for being homophobic. And ITV's choice to remove the line has generated a lot of chatter on Twitter between those who cheered the move and others who feel the line should be placed in context.

Present day Marvel movies are certainly more attentive when it comes to addressing LGBTQ representation. Raimi's upcoming sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, will introduce the out gay Latinx hero, America Chavez aka Miss America, played by Xochitl Gomez. While that storyline has already led some Gulf nations, including Saudi Arabia, to ban the film, Marvel Studios and Raimi won't be altering Multiverse of Madness to appease local censors.

That stands in contrast to the way some other high-profile franchises have approached the issue. Warner Bros. removed six seconds worth of dialogue from the third installment in the Fantastic Beasts series, The Secrets of Dumbledore, that alluded to a romantic relationship between Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) in order to secure the film's release in China.

"A six-second cut was requested and Warner Bros. accepted those changes to comply with local requirements but the spirit of the film remains intact," the studio said in a statement provided to Variety. "We want audiences everywhere in the world to see and enjoy this film, and it’s important to us that Chinese audiences have the opportunity to experience it as well, even with these minor edits."

Video: Andrew Garfield on Spider-Man meme with Tobey Maguire, Tom Holland

Spider-Man is currently streaming on Fubo TV.

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