Trans Ban Wreaks Havoc on Spider-Verse: Arab Countries Snub Marvel Film

Since its release, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse received critical acclaim from moviegoers and critics, grossing over $494.7 million and earning an average rating of 8.6/10 on Rotten Tomatoes. But even though the film was received well by fans and reviewers, one part of the world decided not to release the movie in its cinemas.

On June 15th, the United Arab Emirates announced they would no longer screen Across the Spider-Verse after the movie was initially set to be released in the Gulf region on June 22. The UAE Media Council announced its decision to ban the film last June 12th, saying that the agency "will not allow the circulation or publication of content contrary to the values and principles of the UAE and the standards of media content in force in the country."

While the media council of the United Arab Emirates did not elaborate on the reason for the ban, some suspect the film failed to meet the country’s censorship guidelines due to speculation that one of the main characters, Gwen Stacy or Spider-Gwen played by Hailee Steinfeld, was trans. Some also reported that the ban was connected to a scene in the trailer where a poster saying "Protect Trans Lives" was shown in Gwen’s bedroom.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a direct sequel of the 2018 animated movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which won an Oscar and Golden Globes award for being the Best Animated Feature Film. The film premiered last May 30th and was released in the United States on June 2nd.

The animated film was not just banned in the United Arab Emirates. Across major cinema chains in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Bahrain did not list Across the Spider-Verse on their websites’ “coming soon” sections.

While government agencies in the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia did not immediately respond to requests for comment regarding the issue, some people in the region supported the decision of their countries not to show the movie.

"I'm with the directive of not showing this movie. We don't want to show the next generation that this is something normal. It's not normal, our religion told us that there's only male and female genders," Abdullah Al-Oufi, a Saudi national, told Reuters in Riyadh.

"I see that the decision of stopping the movie is a sovereign decision, and it's our right to express our opinion," Sami al-Shoraim, a young Saudi in Riyadh, said regarding the directive, adding that movies should respect the values of their viewers.

This wouldn’t be the first time the MENA region banned a movie for its purported LGBTQIA+ content. In June last year, the UAE banned the Pixar animated film Lightyear because it featured characters in a same-sex relationship. Other movies banned in the region for showing LGBTQIA+ themes or characters include Buzz Lightyear, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Eternals.

If you like our posts, subscribe to the Atheist Republic newsletter to get exclusive content delivered weekly to your inbox. Also, get the book "Why There is No God" for free.

Click Here to Subscribe

Donating = Loving

Heart Icon

Bringing you atheist articles and building active godless communities takes hundreds of hours and resources each month. If you find any joy or stimulation at Atheist Republic, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.

Or make a one-time donation in any amount.