The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has banned Sony’s new movie, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” without explaining why. The film was released in the United States on June 2 and set for release in the Gulf region on June 22. Entertainment analysts opined that the UAE banned the movie because of one or two scenes that depicted transgender issues.
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is the sequel to “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” which won an Oscar award in 2018. The movie generated $1.7 million in the Gulf region back then.
This is not the first time the UAE or Saudi Arabia or other Muslim countries in the Gulf would ban American movies that contradict their religious, moral, or traditional values. The countries are noted for prohibiting movies with LGBTQ+ content or sex features in a way that offends their cultural sensibilities.
Meanwhile, even though the UAE banned Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, it is not known whether it will be banned in Saudi Arabia or other related countries. Kuwait authorities said they have not received the movie for consideration and cannot preempt any decision until it is submitted for review.
In the Sony movie, one scene shows a transgender flag with the inscription “Protect Trans Lives” in the background. In 2022, the movie “Lightyear” produced by Disney and Pixar was banned in the UAE because a scene showed two lesbian space rangers kissing. In Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and Kuwait, the “Toy Story” spinoff was also banned.
In the newest Spider-Man film, Gwen Stacy is also misconstrued as transgender because she hides her true identity from her father and her character is set in the colors of the transgender flag. This may have been another nail on the Spider-Man in the UAE even though the country’s movie censorship board has not specifically revealed the reasons for the ban.
The UAE Media Council on Monday wrote on Twitter that it “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” without being really specific.
“I’m with the directive of not showing this movie,” Abdullah Al-Oufi, a Saudi, said on Thursday. “We don’t want to show the next generation that this is something normal. It’s not normal, our religion told us that there are only male and female genders.”