Turns out there’s more than just a cannibalistic Spider-Ham joke on the floor of the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse editing room — the movie also cut a reference to the notorious Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. While the creative team desperately wanted to make fun of Turn Off the Dark, there was only so much room in the film.
“There used to be a Turn Off the Dark joke in the movie, but there just wasn’t time for it. There was a moment before Miles [Morales] came back to Aunt May’s, after he found out about the Prowler,” co-writer Phil Lord told SYFY WIRE. “They’re all hanging around waiting for him and they’re all talking about Spider-Man in their various different universes. And Peter B. Parker said, ‘Yeah, there’s a crazy musical that Bono did in my universe,’ and they’re all like ‘that’s crazy!'”
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which ran on Broadway from 2011 to 2014, was a ridiculous fever dream of a play that took significant liberties with the wall-crawler’s mythology. Among other things, the production featured a vamping Green Goblin, a Sinister Six that had seven members (one of whom was a walking pocket knife named Swiss Miss and created exclusively for the show) and an eight-legged supervillainess singing an entire song about shoes.
The music and lyrics for the show were famously written by U2’s Bono and the Edge, something that director Julie Taymor later blamed for the production’s failure. Reeve Carney, who would later appear as Dorian Gray in Penny Dreadful, played Peter Parker.
Given the behind-the-scenes drama — several actors were seriously injured during stunts — Taymor was fired and the entire production was halted for a month to retool. As for the Into the Spider-Verse creative team, it had bigger fish to fry.
“We needed to do a Rubix cube joke,” Lord added. “Much more important.”
Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse stars Shameik Moore, Brian Tyree Henry, Jake Johnson, Mahershala Ali, Hailee Steinfeld, Liev Schreiber, Luna Lauren Velez, Lily Tomlin, Nicolas Cage, John Mulaney and Kimiko Glenn. The film is in theaters now.