British television network ITV aired Sam Raimi’s 2002 superhero classic “Spider-Man” without one line of dialogue during an April 23 broadcast on ITV2. The network removed a joke in the movie deemed by many viewers over the years as blatantly homophobic. The line occurs early in the film when Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) enters a wrestling competition with his newfound superhero powers.
“That’s a cute outfit. Did your husband give it to you?” Peter Parker says to his opponent in the censored line. ITV removed part of the quote (“Did your husband give it to you?”) so that Peter only says, “That’s a cute outfit.”
“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,” ITV said in a statement to Variety.
News of ITV removing a homophobic joke in “Spider-Man” comes as the industry takes various approaches to releasing LGBTQ content worldwide. Disney is currently refusing to remove dialogue in the upcoming Marvel tentpole “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” referencing a lesbian relationship, and thus the movie will not be permitted to open in Saudi Arabia. The gay references in the “Doctor Strange” sequel take up “barely 12 seconds,” the Saudi Arabia cinema classification board said. Disney films such as “Onward” and “Eternals” have also been banned from the region after the studio refused to cut LGBTQ content.
On the other, Warner Bros. made headlines earlier this month after it agreed to remove gay references from “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” in order to secure a release in China. Only around six seconds of dialogue from the film were removed. The dialogue referenced Dumbledore’s gay backstory and his love for Grindelwald.
“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,” Warner Bros. told Variety of the decision.
Raimi’s “Spider-Man” is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Maguire recently reprised his iteration of Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the record-breaking tentpole “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”