No, I am not referring to the Secret Wars alien costume which Tobey Maguire butchered. With Marvel getting the rights to use Spider-Man and the confirmation that Andrew Garfield will no longer be Spider-Man, a new Spidey is definitely on the cards. But who could he be?
Marvel are at a stage where they want to shake things up using their character. Look at Falcon’s major role. Look at the new Johnny Storm in Fox’s Fantastic Four. Look at the Black Panther film project, which has been pushed back thanks to the new Spider-man deal. Look at the new Ms. Marvel comic, which has been a global hit. All these are showing that Marvel wants to introduce a bit of colour into their market, as they intend to give the minorities the chances they had never gotten in the past.
We are tired of seeing Spider-Man rebooted every three movies, where the same story is told over again with slight variations. So Sony and Marvel, why not dare to be different? No, I am not asking for a Miles Morales story to be introduced to the live action side of things. Why not dare to break the mould and tell us Peter Parker’s story with a splash of added colour?
There is nothing in the Spider-Man comic series that prevents him from being an African American. His story is very generic and he grew up in New York, an area filled with people of different races and nationalities. Uncle Ben and Aunt May could also be African American. Heck, even Uncle Ben’s killer could be black. Colour will not affect the Spider-Man story. This would also give rise to tackling aspects which are still considered to be taboo after all these years. Interracial relationships could be explored here and lessons could be taught around this.
Spider-man is a character that appeals to kids of all colours. My son loves him. So, why not instill a few positive messages and concepts within the movie? It could help kids not see colour, as many of the previous generation do. Instead, they will see a hero they can believe in and aspire to be irrespective of the colour of his skin. It would also be cool to see a person of colour having one of the most advanced scientific minds in the world. Maths and science are two subjects which are not pushed enough. In African schools the level of maths and science are poor. Most kids do not like these subjects, as the fail to see its practical application. Having taught at schools comprised of teens of colour, it was shocking to see the amount of students that dropped maths for math literature (I still do not know what this is) and science was often dropped for a biology class. Growing up I learned a lot of scientific concepts from Spider-Man. So, to have him representing the minority could definitely trigger a few young minds to follow his footsteps.
My candidate for this role would be Donald Glover. A few years ago I remember reading up on Donald wanting to be Peter Parker for “The Amazing Spider-Man”, a role which went to Andrew Garfield. Donald Glover is an amazingly talented individual who is free from the colour of his skin. He exemplifies what it means to be born free. He was raised by Foster parents who happened to be Jehovah’s Witnesses. He is also a writing graduate, who won an award for 30s Rock, and a successful rap artist. Yes, he is Childish Gambino, one of the few rappers in today’s modern market that is able to write from personal experience, instead of just focusing on material goods and catchy beats.
In 2010 Glover was given the idea to audition for The Amazing Spider-Man. His audition was welcomed and supported by Stan Lee himself! Brian Michael Bendis also got behind the campaign of getting Donald as Spider-Man. Eventually, Donald would go on to inspire Bendis to create a Spider-Man of colour, that got his own comic run. Currently Donald is voicing Miles Morales on the Ultimate Spider-Man TV show. We have seen Donald do it, all thanks to Community. We have seen him in a Spider-man Suit. We have seen him in an interracial relationship and we have seen his sense of humour. Donald is the perfect candidate for a new Spider-man live action, be it Peter Parker or Miles Morales.
What is to be lost by making Spider-Man black? Not a lot in my opinion. It opens a brand new target market for marvel and it will give them the platform to launch more of their heroes of African descent. We are living in a world where equal opportunity is not as far along as we hoped it would be. Most times it is these very films that give us the break from reality that is needed. Spider-man is a hero that inspires us all. We can relate to him in so many ways. So why not take that little step further and give us the Spider-Man we need…. Donald Glover.
For more images of black actors playing popular superheroes, check out Film Posters Reimagined with Black Superheroes – Part II