The new What if … from Marvel? the series had planned an episode involving a mutated Spider-Man who was dismissed for being too disturbing.
In a recent podcast interview, one of the writers of the brand new What If …? the animated television series on Disney + revealed that one of the few planned stories that was not included in the finished series was an adaptation of a real Marvel What if…? 1990s story that was deemed “too dark” to be made on the current cartoon series.
It turns out that a body horror concept that was printed in 1996 for the Marvel comic book line-up was too big for the new’s rating limit. What if…? series, which needs to keep everything at the same PG-13 level as the Avengers movies all maintained (the same rating level as every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far).
The writer AC Bradley was on The post-credit podcast and asked about ideas that were not included in the What if …? series and among others, she noted, “There were a few episodes that were just a little too dark. There was an original What If race where Spider-Man turns into a real spider, and it was just too dark and too much body horror for their PG-13 (rating). “
The original comic was “Arachnamorphosus” from June 1996 from What if…? # 88 by writer Ben Raab, artists Ariel Olivetti and Agostin Comoto, colorist Marie Javins (with additional enhancements by Malibu Coloring) and letterer Richard Starkings. The book was the second issue of a new take on the famous alternate reality comic book series, where the series would highlight specifically “darker” alternate realities.
In “Arachnamorphosus” (which has a surprisingly disturbing Olivetti cover), the story takes place in the future, where Peter Parker and his son live an isolated existence. Peter constantly studies his and his son’s body chemistry, hiding the fact that Ben is a mutant. Throughout the story, Peter begins to lose control of himself, as he transforms into a disturbing human-spider creature.
After Ben is attacked by Flash Thompson’s son, his mutant powers are revealed and Flash’s child is seriously (possibly fatally) injured. Flash forms a mob for revenge, but Peter sacrifices himself so his son can escape. At the end of the issue, we see that Ben has come all the way to Westchester to get to the Xavier Institute for Mutants.
The story would have fitted well, but it certainly had some very spooky visuals, so it was too much for modern animation not to get an R rating.
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