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Trans Rights to 'Copaganda': The Web Of Controversies ‘Across the Spider-Verse’

The movie ignited much debate over sensitive topics such as trans rights and police glamourisation.

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Since it hit the theatres on 1 June, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has been a massive success, amassing nearly $400 million globally in box-office earnings. The film, starring Shameik Moore as Miles Morales and Hailee Steinfeld as Gwen Stacey, drew praise for dazzling animations, action-packed scenes, and attempting to redefine what it means to be a hero.

However, it wasn't without backlash.

While some believe that the film represents 'troubling ideals', due to its apparent glamourisation of police – commonly referred to as ‘copaganda’, others have concerns about representation of transgender youth.

What exactly are these messages? How did these controversies stem? What do people have to say? The Quint explains.

Trans Rights to 'Copaganda': The Web Of Controversies ‘Across the Spider-Verse’

  1. 1. Calls For Boycott Over Trans Representation

    Eagle-eyed viewers spotted a poster in the character Gwen Stacey's room that appeared briefly in an opening shot. The poster was a representation of flag for transgender people with the words "Protect Trans Kids."

    While this may seem like a rather insignificant detail, it sparked a ton of conversation online. 

    Many handles on Twitter said how they were ecstatic and proclaimed Stacey to be a 'trans icon' even. People spoke about how they finally got the representation in a superhero movie – even if it was a stepping stone.

    The theory makes more sense when Gwen's story is examined further, others pointed.

    In one sequence where she discusses her secret identity with her father, she says, "They can only know half of who I am." This, people pointed, can be read as an allegory for coming out as trans.

    Her struggle to fit in and her fear of 'outing' herself to her father resembles the hardships that many trans children have to go through.

    The movie ignited much debate over sensitive topics such as trans rights and police glamourisation.

    A still from Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

    (Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

    Many, however, felt that the movie excessively 'pushed an agenda', commenting that the poster was encouraging gender affirmation surgery for adolescents, and called for a 'boycott' of the film.

    Expand
  2. 2. 'Copaganda' in Across the Spider-Verse

    In the backdrop of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests over the last few years, people not only in the United States, but also globally, have been more sensitive calling out and condemning police brutality.

    In the Spider-Verse film, people have pointed how portrayal of cops adjacent to superheroes is troublesome. For example, in the scene where Miles Morales battles the supervillain Spot alongside the New York Police Department.

    People have pointed how this sends a message that police are the superheroes of the real world, poised to provide justice and protect the community from threats.

    They have pointed how this is a 'whitewashed' and 'romanticised' depiction that no longer holds true.

    The MCU isn't foreign to receiving backlash on their depictions of police in their shows and movies. Less than a year after the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, the MCU comics rebooted one of their classic black characters, Luke Cage, as a police commissioner.

    Their decision sparked much criticism, being called an unsuccessful and particularly tone-deaf attempt to engage with black audiences. 

    The film does make some subtle attempts to paint a more realistic image of the police force. For example, Miles wears a BLM badge on his backpack, which acknowledges the existence of such a movement against police brutality in this fantasy universe.

    According to some, however, this is far outweighed by the largely positive and ‘friendly’ depiction of law enforcement throughout the film.

    Expand
  3. 3. Did the Controversies Impact the Film?

    Although neither the directors nor the actors have chosen to speak up about any of the backlash or the theories surrounding Gwen’s identity or 'copaganda', the film continues to do extraordinarily well as fans run rampant with speculation.

    Despite its messy politics, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse shone through and left viewers anticipating its sequel.
    The movie ignited much debate over sensitive topics such as trans rights and police glamourisation.

    Miles Morales as Spider-Man in a still from Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

    (Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

    Among all Spider-Man movies, it has the third highest-grossing opening, garnering over $120 million.

    Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is running in cinemas now.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

Calls For Boycott Over Trans Representation

Eagle-eyed viewers spotted a poster in the character Gwen Stacey's room that appeared briefly in an opening shot. The poster was a representation of flag for transgender people with the words "Protect Trans Kids."

While this may seem like a rather insignificant detail, it sparked a ton of conversation online. 

Many handles on Twitter said how they were ecstatic and proclaimed Stacey to be a 'trans icon' even. People spoke about how they finally got the representation in a superhero movie – even if it was a stepping stone.

The theory makes more sense when Gwen's story is examined further, others pointed.

In one sequence where she discusses her secret identity with her father, she says, "They can only know half of who I am." This, people pointed, can be read as an allegory for coming out as trans.

Her struggle to fit in and her fear of 'outing' herself to her father resembles the hardships that many trans children have to go through.

The movie ignited much debate over sensitive topics such as trans rights and police glamourisation.

A still from Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Many, however, felt that the movie excessively 'pushed an agenda', commenting that the poster was encouraging gender affirmation surgery for adolescents, and called for a 'boycott' of the film.

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'Copaganda' in Across the Spider-Verse

In the backdrop of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests over the last few years, people not only in the United States, but also globally, have been more sensitive calling out and condemning police brutality.

In the Spider-Verse film, people have pointed how portrayal of cops adjacent to superheroes is troublesome. For example, in the scene where Miles Morales battles the supervillain Spot alongside the New York Police Department.

People have pointed how this sends a message that police are the superheroes of the real world, poised to provide justice and protect the community from threats.

They have pointed how this is a 'whitewashed' and 'romanticised' depiction that no longer holds true.

The MCU isn't foreign to receiving backlash on their depictions of police in their shows and movies. Less than a year after the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, the MCU comics rebooted one of their classic black characters, Luke Cage, as a police commissioner.

Their decision sparked much criticism, being called an unsuccessful and particularly tone-deaf attempt to engage with black audiences. 

The film does make some subtle attempts to paint a more realistic image of the police force. For example, Miles wears a BLM badge on his backpack, which acknowledges the existence of such a movement against police brutality in this fantasy universe.

According to some, however, this is far outweighed by the largely positive and ‘friendly’ depiction of law enforcement throughout the film.

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Did the Controversies Impact the Film?

Although neither the directors nor the actors have chosen to speak up about any of the backlash or the theories surrounding Gwen’s identity or 'copaganda', the film continues to do extraordinarily well as fans run rampant with speculation.

Despite its messy politics, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse shone through and left viewers anticipating its sequel.
The movie ignited much debate over sensitive topics such as trans rights and police glamourisation.

Miles Morales as Spider-Man in a still from Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Among all Spider-Man movies, it has the third highest-grossing opening, garnering over $120 million.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is running in cinemas now.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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