6 Stupid Ways The '90s 'Spider-Man' Cartoon Censored Morbius (And Others)
Morbius the Living Vampire has been appearing in comics for just over 50 years, but chances are most people reading this found out about him in one of two ways: 1) when the Jared Leto movie was first announced what feels like 50 years ago, or 2) through his appearances in the fan-favorite 1990s Spider-Man animated series. That show is the main reason why at least half of the people watching the trailer thought, "Wait, so his hands don't have buttholes in them anymore? Might as well put Wolverine in a movie and not give him claws! Way to take a crap on my childhood, Jared Leto."
Of course, Morbius' iconic hand anuses weren't there in the comics -- they were one of the many ridiculous changes added by the show in order to get around Fox Kids' censorship rules. So, to celebrate Morbius finally seeing the light of day (only to burn up and shrivel like a sun-burnt vampire once the reviews come out, probably), here are six dumb ways Spider-Man: The Animated Series censored this and other characters:
They Couldn't Show (Or Mention) Blood
For the show's second season, the writers decided to adapt the classic storyline where Spider-Man grows four extra arms (please note that if he's becoming more like a spider, he probably has two detachable penises now, too). Since Morbius was originally introduced in the comic book version of that story, the writers figured they could use him in the show as well, but there was one problem: blood was a no-no. The show could depict blood being inside test tubes and, y'know, the characters' veins and stuff, but they weren't allowed to show it coming out of a body in any way. This not only prevented them from adapting the issue where Mary Jane teaches kids about menstruation, but it also made any story involving vampires (living or otherwise) very difficult.
And so, they decided the most logical solution was: butt hands. As in, instead of biting people, Morbius would suck the vital juices out of their bodies through little suction cups on the palms of his hands, making his victims look like he smooched them to death.
Oh, and because the writers were instructed to avoid using the word "blood" as much as possible, Morbius mostly referred to his favorite bodily fluid as "plasma," making him look like even more of a jerk. We get it; you have a PhD! You don't have to use the fancy thesaurus word for everything.
No Punching Allowed
Whether it was due to Fox Kids' censorship or the showrunner's personal decision, this show controversially removed one of Spider-Man's most important powers: punching. They could show Spidey throwing a punch, but (with very few exceptions) his fist couldn't actually connect with someone else's body. This also went for other characters, which meant that the animators had to get pretty creative when it came to staging fight scenes. That's why, within the course of a one-minute fight with Blade the Vampire Hunter, Morbius ends up throwing a brick ...
A sci-fi DNA-altering contraption ...
And a whole-ass motorcycle ...
But never a single punch. Earlier in the episode, Morbius even goes full Donkey Kong and throws a barrel at Blade. Then again, perhaps his hands are just too sensitive for forming fists. Ever tried to punch someone with your butt? We don't recommend it. (But if you're into it, we don't judge.)
And speaking of Blade ...
No Blades, Either
Blade's name in this show is actually false advertising. The "Vampire Hunter" part is accurate, but the "Blade" itself is not, because instead of his iconic katana, they just gave him some sort of laser sword. Technically, he should be called Crappy Knock-Off Lightsaber, the Vampire Hunter.
But wait, wasn't this the same network that aired X-Men: The Animated Series? We seem to remember Wolverine being in that. How many times did you see him actually attack people with his claws, though? Unless he was fighting robots, those things were mostly decorative. He pretty much just used them against stuff like Cyclops' car, his own alarm clock, some salami, and, of course, a turkey leg.
But at least they didn't just replace Wolverine's claws with lasers coming out of his knuck-- wait, crap, on second thought, that would have been pretty rad.
No Guns, Unless They Looked Like Toys
The same episodes where Morbius first appears also introduced the animated version of the Punisher, who is pretty much the same ruthless vigilante we all know, except for the fact that his weapons look like he bought a bunch of Nerf guns at Toys 'R' Us and painted them grey.
Instead of killing criminals, this Punisher kills it at laser tag. And you know how real-life cops keep slapping the Punisher skull logo on their uniforms and cars even though the character's creator has said that's #@$%ing dumb? In this universe, cops imitate him by using futuristic-looking laser guns instead.
This is all because Fox Kids insisted that all guns on the show had to be non-lethal, and we guess sci-fi zappers were a more dignified solution than arming the police with those old-timey novelty guns that shoot a flag that says "BANG."
The Word "Sinister" Was Banned
As the writers were working on a specific storyline, Fox Kids gave them a last-minute note saying that the word "sinister" was off-limits -- which was a problem because the storyline in question was about a group of villains called the Sinister Six. This one is especially baffling because the X-Men cartoon already had a character called Mr. Sinister, and the network didn't seem to mind. Instead of renaming the team the Misters Sinister or Sinister Misters to get the network off their back, showrunner John Semper Jr. came up with "Insidious Six."
Of course, the villains' mission was exactly the same: they wanted to kill Spider-Man. Or should we say ... "cream" Spider-Man?
No (Talking About) Killing
At this point, you won't be surprised to learn that characters in this show couldn't kill or be killed (Mary Jane and the Green Goblin don't die, they simply "fall into a portal" and are never seen again), but they couldn't even talk about the subject. When villains threatened Spider-Man's life, they had to use words like "obliterate," "destroy," or, yes, "cream." Hence this scene where Spidey says "The Shocker's blast should have creamed me!" which sounds vaguely dirty.
So if Morbius is accurate to the cartoon it probably owes its existence to, it should include Jared Leto throwing barrels like a madman and yelling, "I'll cream you! I'LL CREAM ALL OF YOU!" Oscars 2023, here we go.
Follow Maxwell Yezpitelok's heroic effort to read and comment on every '90s Superman comic at Superman86to99.tumblr.com.
Top image: Marvel Animation