Discussions about the casting for the new Spider-Man have been circulating after the recent news of Marvel and Sony doing a collaborative partnership and Andrew Garfield’s departure from the franchise. The most recent and most interesting news is that whoever is playing Spider-Man may not be a white male. In this article from Project Casting, Jeff Sneider of The Wrap mentioned that while not set in stone it looks like Spider-Man won’t be white and that it may not be Peter Parker in the suit.
If this rumor turns out to be true, this could be the biggest gamble of both Sony and Marvel’s film franchise. In every animated lice-action adaptation, Spider-Man has always been Peter Parker and played by a white male. Most of the world knows Spider-Man as such and to have someone not be Peter Parker as a white guy is bound to shake up the world. Some have already come against the idea, suggesting that because Peter Parker is recognizable as he is that changing his ethnicity or having a different character would alienate fans. To me, I think this is what Sony needed to do to keep itself relevant and in the superhero game.
It’s fairly obvious now that when it comes to mainstream, big-budget superhero films the leading stars have been mostly white and mostly male. This is starting to change with DC’s announcement of a Cyborg and Wonder Woman movie with a “racebent” Aquaman, Marvel’s announcements of a Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) and Black Panther movies in the future, and Fox having Johnny Storm played by Michael B. Jordan. The studios are recognizing the need to diversify their offerings and are probably spurred on by the success of television shows like Empire, Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder. Marvel and Sony said they wanted to do something creative and this is the chance.
As for the alienating aspect, perhaps the better question is what is bothersome about Peter Parker not being Spider-Man? Frankly, the character has been played out through so many adaptations and mediums that he needs a break as someone else steps in his shoes. If we can have an Ant-Man where Hank Pym isn’t going to be the title character for the majority of the film why not a different Spider-Man?
There’s a few options that they could do. The biggest is have Miles Morales be the new Spider-Man. After Peter, he’s the one with the most presence and allows for the studios to do the high school setting they talked about. Another possibility is adapting Miguel O’Hara from Spider-Man 2099. I don’t know much about the character but it wouldn’t be the first time a studio has taken a risk by picking a more obscure comic book character. Lastly, they could make a new character up entirely. This one is the riskiest decision because of the lack of a built-in fan base. Adding in a new side character or villain is one thing but a hero? May be pushing the fans a bit too hard.
Of course, we could just have Japanese Spider-Man character in the role but that could be asking too much.