Marvel Centers Whiteness, Even When Trying To Be Diverse
Marvel has a long and storied white past. And now that the mega brand is trying to better reflect multiple communities and the current state of the world, there were bound to be some growing pains. Their casting choices for the newest iteration in the Spider-Man series shows just how deep those pains go.
If you watch the trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming and you’re a comic book devotee like me, the character that sticks out the most isn’t Peter Parker (played by Tom Holland). It’s Ned Leeds, a character played by Jacob Batalon who is remarkably similar to fan-favorite comic book character Ganke Lee (whom we previously thought was being whitewashed too). I won’t go too deep into all the backstories, but Ganke Lee was the Korean-American friend to Miles Morales, the afro-latino Spider-Man of the now defunct Ultimate line of Marvel comics.
One of the great aspects of those comics was that whiteness wasn’t centered. It was a fresh take on the Spider-Man story, fitting more closely to the current world we live in. Judging by the trailer below, much inspiration was taken from those comics to construct this new film representation, just like we speculated way back in 2015. It’s a smart move to let go of the history that has continually boxed in these movies. They just forgot to let go of the notion that a white male needs to be at the top of everything.
Apparently, the studio execs liked nearly everything about the comic book source material except the series’ focal character, a nonwhite hero. As exciting as it will be to see a much more youthful Spider-Man and a superhero loving best friend for him to share his secret with, I can’t gloss over how disrespectful and disheartening it is to take a beloved character, strip his ethnicity and the uniqueness that came along with that, and infuse what is left into his antiquated, white predecessor. They literally mined Miles Morales for parts so that their old beat up flagship Peter Parker would keep running.
What is clear here is that Marvel is unwilling to take chances.
Yes, Marvel has finally put minority characters in the spotlight with Black Panther and Luke Cage, but these are just more instances of Marvel leaning on what it has done before. Taking a chance would be Marvel fixing some of its past atrocities, like having Iron Fist not be a rich white man. It would be naming Zendaya’s character Mary Jane Watson instead of changing it to Michelle to keep the Internet trolls at bay. It would be using an actual minority character to lead its big screen adaptation of a comic book lead by a minority superhero.
But Marvel doesn’t want to take chances. Marvel wants to take measured steps to get as much “diversity credit” as possible while not exposing precious moviegoers to the mind-blowing notion that non-white, non-male people can be superheroes too.
Watch the trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming below:
Photo credit: Youtube
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