Lebanon bans “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”

Lebanon joined several other Middle Eastern countries in banning the screening of Sony’s latest Marvel movie, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

The ban is believed to be due to a frame in the film containing the transgender flag in the background, with the words “protect trans kids” written on it.

The information has been confirmed by several social media users and Lebanese media outlets who contacted the country’s main movie theatres.

“Lebanon banning the new Spider-Man movie because of a trans flag showing in the background during the movie is […] pathetic,” said Twitter user Abed Bsat, whose tweet went viral after sharing his conversation with VOX Cinemas Lebanon.

Other users commented that without the ban, the flag in the background would have gone largely unnoticed. Others deemed the ban a distraction away from the dismal political, social and economic situation.

The movie, which has now grossed over $500 million worldwide, was highly anticipated by many Marvel fans in the region and was met with critical and popular acclaim.

Its ban in Lebanon follows a trend launched in the early 2010’s of increased censorship imposed on films that include any form of LGBTQ+ representation, or content that may be deemed offensive to religious groups.

In 2022 alone, Lebanon banned at least five movies for reasons mostly related to represented sexualities or negative depictions of religions. The exception is Death on The Nile, which is believed to have been banned due to it starring Israeli actress Gal Gadot, who served in the Israeli Defense Forces at a time that coincided with Israel’s 2006 war with Lebanon.

In 2023, the presence of a lesbian couple in Scream VI is thought to be the reason behind the film never reaching Lebanese screens.

In contrast, a scene containing Gal Gadot from the latest DC studios movie, The Flash, was only edited out of the film, with the film allowed to play across cinemas.

Across the Spider-Verse’s ban further confirms Lebanon’s increasingly hostile attitude towards to LGBTQ+ community, and its decreasing tolerance for various forms of expression.

“Censorship strikes again,” tweeted Lebanese film critic Anis Tabet.