Across The Spider-Verse Gets Banned For Ridiculous Reasons

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has been banned in Middle Eastern countries for an undisclosed reason.

By Kevin C. Neece | Published

across the spider-verse

While there is no official ban and no specific reason given, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has been banned in several Muslim-majority countries for not adhering to their strict media guidelines. Sky News reports that more than a dozen countries have quietly removed the animated film from their rosters of films to be shown in theatres and that the move likely has to do with a small background detail in one shot of the film. At one point in the film, which appears in the trailer, a poster can be seen on Gwen Stacy’s wall that reads, “Protect Trans Kids” over a transgender pride flag.

The moment has caused speculation among Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse fans as to whether Stacey herself might be trans, though there is no other clear evidence for this. But it hasn’t caused backlash and bans the way it seems to have the Middle East, filled with nations whose Islamic Sharia law often forbids transgender, homosexual, and other queer identities as sinful. While it’s not clear this is definitely the cause of these bans, it does seem likely as little else that would be objectionable to these standards can be found in the film.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse had previously been listed among other films for release in cinemas in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Lebanon, Qatar, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Kuwait, but now no longer appears there. In fact, Sky News says that a source close to the film has indicated that it is not expected to be shown in the UAE. Though they were not authorized to make public statements, Sky News says their source referred to strict censorship, especially for media directed at children.

This move comes without any formal announcement of a ban, but still the clear message in these countries is that screenings of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse will not happen. As the much-anticipated sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2018, the film has created buzz worldwide and has even been called the greatest comic book film ever made. In the MCU-driven age of countless comic book and superhero movies in which we live, that is truly saying something.

But Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse could be the greatest film of all time and still face the possibility of being officially or unofficially banned in countries with such strict laws. Saudi Cinema, for example, shared an image of the film’s poster on its official Twitter account expressing its intention to never approve films whose companies “do not commit to implementing the required amendments” to their films. What amendments it would like to see made to this particular film, it did not say, but the entire movement carries the “you know what you did” feeling.

The Associated Press has confirmed that UAE cinema company Reel Cinema’s state-owned parent company Emaar Entertainment has stated that it will not be screening Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. In its statement, Emaar said the decision came from Empire Entertainment, which is the Middle East’s exclusive distributor for films from Sony Pictures. There was no comment from Empire Entertainment, the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, or the UAE Ministry of Youth and Culture.