When Miles Morales meets Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen from another dimension in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, those encounters proved to be just the tip of the iceberg. One of the most unique allies audiences were introduced to was the Spectacular Spider-Ham, voiced by comedian John Mulaney.
In a recent interview, co-director Rodney Rothman revealed that one particularly good joke had to be cut from the film in service of finding the balance between the character's dopey shtick and the film's more sentimental moments.
In an interview on The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith podcast, Rothman highlighted the difficulties of selling the anthropomorphic talking pig with spider powers from a cartoon dimension to audiences. While children enjoyed the character, adults apparently saw Peter Porker as annoying, with a slew of one-liners and jokes that never really seemed to land. Eventually, they were able to find a balance, but one important scene in particular, where Miles and the other Spider-People recall those they've lost since acquiring their powers, originally went in a different direction.
“The way that scene [originally] went is Noir said he lost his Uncle Benjamin, Peter lost Uncle Ben, and Gwen lost Peter. We went through everyone,” said Rothman. “Spider-Ham said he lost his Uncle Frankfurter. And then he said, ‘He was electrocuted, and it smelled so good.’”
The joke was so unexpected and surprising that it got some of the biggest laughs in the movie, but before the film was released they decided to remove it because the filmmakers felt it threw off the poignancy of that emotional moment.
“We just decided, ‘This is a bad laugh. This is throwing off the energy in the scene,’” said Rothman. “Spider-Man is a real person with real feelings, and we wanted people to get that.”
Although the joke wasn't used, the name Uncle Frankfurter was referenced in a cut scene that featured Spider-Ham enjoying a famous New York-style hot dog.
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.