The Wrap has revealed the frontrunners for the role of Peter Parker, aka Spider-man, for his upcoming appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I have to say I am thoroughly unimpressed. Ever since the news hit that Spider-Man was officially joining the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) in a deal between Sony and Marvel, people have been speculating about who would be playing the iconic character. Some fans have joked about Marvel hiring another “Chris” actor, others have been hoping for Miles Morales, or a possible racebending of Peter Parker. As The Wrap has revealed, we were all wrong, and furthermore, disappointed.
We learned not too long ago that Marvel and Sony were looking for a younger actor to fill the role of a younger Spider-man. Now we’ve seen the candidates, including Nat Wolff, Asa Butterfield, Tom Holland, Timothee Chalamet and Liam James. The candidates are set to participate in screen tests within the next two weeks, The Wrap reveals. While Spider-Man’s new movie isn’t set to be released for another three years, the character is planned to have an appearance in Captain America: Civil War.
I’m still not satisfied.
As previously stated here and elsewhere, Marvel’s movies are very, very white and male. There have been opportunities to racebend originally white comic characters to reflect a new modern era of superheroes, yet they haven’t been taken, save for the racebending of Heimdall in Thor. Which pales in comparison of DC casting Maori and Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa as lead in Aquaman, or offering Dwayne Johnson the lead part of Shazam (a part he turned down in favor of instead playing second lead Black Adam).
Noting these differences isn’t an attempt to create some sort of DC vs Marvel battle for diversity. That helps no one, and erases DC’s own history of whitewashing prominent characters of color in their movies as well. Which only further makes these potential casting choices that much more frustrating. This is, at the very least Marvel’s second greatest opportunity to take a risk and either racebend Peter Parker to make him more relevant, or rewrite the part as Miles Morales, the Afro-Latino Spider-man of the Marvel’s Ultimate Universe.
It’s not simply that Peter Parker himself isn’t relevant or that his value as a character has diminished. Peter is still a character many fans have related to for decades. However, his story has been told in a specifically singular narrative, from a specifically singular perspective.
White. Male. Straight.
While the possibility of a racebent Peter was always a longshot, fans had been hoping for inclusion in the form of Miles Morales. It’s become clear, now more than ever, that not only are we not getting Miles, we’re getting another white, male (and, given heteronormativity, probably straight) lead in another upcoming Marvel movie.
I have nothing against the proposed actors at hand. Some have more than decent enough resumes that I have faith in their acting abilities. Chalamet was on Homeland, and played Matthew McConaughey’s son in Interstellar, while James was on The Killing, and was lead in the indie movie The Way Way Back. But this isn’t about the abilities of the actors: rather, it’s the question of if we really need another Spider-man story starring a white man.
There are decades of this story, at least four cartoons with another on the way, and five movies of this same story. For a new generation of comic fans seeking a modern day Spider-Man that reflects the world we live in, we at least have Miles Morales to fill the void. For movies, unfortunately, it appears we’ll have to wait longer for more inclusion with our Spider-Man.