Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man makes an offensive and homophobic joke about another man’s wrestling costume and ITV wanted nothing to do with the line.
Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man film aired on ITV2 on Saturday April 23. In the scene, Spider-Man, who has only recently gained his arachnid powers, enters a wrestling competition and comments on a fellow competitor’s outfit.
“That’s a cute outfit. Did your husband give it to you?” is the original line said by Peter Parker, but ITV cut out the second part of it, leaving it at “That’s a cute outfit.” It’s the perfect case of removing dated, offensive jokes that don’t change the meaning of the scene. It’s a joke that is not needed for context or narrative purposes, so why should it be left in?
Giving a statement to Variety, ITV had this to say: ““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.”
Disney is currently grappling with censorship from countries which are refusing to screen the latest Marvel megamovie, Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness due to its implied lesbian content. Apparently the film contains a line about America Chavez’s lesbian relationship and the film can’t or won’t be screened in countries such as Saudi Arabia and potentially Kuwait and Qatar, but the film hasn’t officially been banned in any of these countries yet. Without the cuts, it seems like the film will never see the light of day in countries like Saudi Arabia where homosexuality is still a crime.
Warner Bros.’s Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore also battled similar censorship in China. The studio caved and removed lines from the film that stated or implied a romantic relationship between Mads Mikkelsen’s Grindelwald and Jude Law’s Dumbledore.
ITV is clearly setting an example to TV channels to edit older films. It’s an on-going debate whether works of art should be edited or whether warnings before the film would potentially be enough.