China Reportedly Asked Sony To Remove The Statue Of Liberty From Spider-Man: No Way Home

File this one under "lol, what?" It's no secret that China frequently edits Hollywood-made media when it arrives, usually to cut out moments that the Chinese government disagrees with — like critiquing law enforcement, criticizing the Chinese censorship laws itself, or any form of queerness. In some cases, China will even ask the United States-based production studios to edit the films before they arrive ... and Hollywood will frequently comply because our industry is currently dependent on overseas box-office profits, particularly China. 

However, sometimes China's requests aren't a matter of just editing out blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments of queerness that were already diluted with overseas audiences in mind. Sometimes the Chinese government makes a request that is frankly, impossible to execute.

Puck News (via The Playlist) reports that a recent request made with Sony for "Spider-Man: No Way Home," the Chinese government asked for all images of the Statue of Liberty to be removed. While an official justification for the request has not been made available, it's likely less about the physical statue and more about what it represents. America has its own chaotic mess of social and civil unrest to deal with, but the Statue of Liberty has long since been a symbol of freedom, democracy, liberty, and justice. It's especially so in "No Way Home," which finds the Statue of Liberty undergoing construction in order to add Captain America's shield.

These concepts are obviously in direct opposition to the communist regime in China, but Sony declined the request and "Spider-Man: No Way Home" was not permitted to screen. Not that it mattered much, considering the film still made an obscene amount of money. It's also nothing new, as Marvel movies have yet to be released in China since "Spider-Man: Far From Home" in 2019.

Continuing a hopeful trend

Now, I don't want to give Sony too much credit for its defiant stand, because removing the Statue of Liberty from "Spider-Man: No Way Home" would have been virtually impossible. The Statue of Liberty is prominently featured throughout the climatic action sequence at the end of the third act, so removing the image would have either required extensive hours of work, costing Sony millions of dollars, or simply resulted in a much shorter and weirder version of the movie. It would have also shaken up a throughline throughout the MCU, as the Statue of Liberty plays a significant role in several of the films. 

When Sony declined to make the changes, the Chinese government allegedly countered, asking if the presence of the statue could be minimized, in addition to a few of the more patriotic shots of the film, like Tom Holland standing on top of the crown.

Sony inevitably passed, likely because American audiences would have lost their collective s*** had the edits been made, and even making the changes was not a guarantee the film would have been accepted for release. Blockbusters have proven they can still thrive without needing to cater to foreign censorship standards, and moves like this do point to the hopeful trend of Hollywood finally backing away from appeasing China in the hopes of profitability.