Does Spider-Man have to be a little white teenager?
That’s the question that io9 asked recently. They made the case that these days it shouldn’t matter what color an actor is (and that all of the white candidates were pretty boring), so there’s no reason a black or hispanic actor shouldn’t be considered for the part. That led to a lot of posting on both sides of the argument, particularly by Community actor and former 30 Rock writer Donald Glover, who tweeted that he wanted to audition for the part… which caused a whole bunch more posting. (And keep in mind, he didn’t say he wanted to be given the part, he just wanted to audition for it.)
Then this got big enough for Stan Lee to talk to MTV News about it:
He’s a great actor. I’ve seen him, and he’s terrific […] A lot of my Twitter followers have been saying that he ought to have a chance to audition for the role. So I tweeted back by saying, as far as I’m concerned … anybody should have a chance to audition for the role. I certainly think he should have a chance to audition.
And I didn’t mention this in my tweet, but I’m telling you that I don’t ever want to make it sound like I’m trying in any way to influence the Marvel people as to who to cast in any roles. That isn’t my job. It isn’t in my purview. It’s something I should butt out of and I try to butt out of it – just like i don’t tell them what to do with the movie.Here’s the point: We’ve already had the Kingpin in ‘Daredevil’ portrayed by a black man, where he was white in the comics, and we’ve had Nick Fury portrayed by a black man where he was white in the comics. But not that many people had seen these characters – not that many moviegoers are familiar with them […] Everybody seems to be familiar with Spider-Man, so I say that it isn’t that it’s a racial issue – it’s just that it might be confusing to people. But that’s a matter for the people at Marvel to take into consideration. I certainly don’t want to weigh in on it in any way, except to say I think Glover is a fine actor.
You can see the rest of the interview here.
The funniest thing for me is that several of the posts say that Glover can’t be nerdy enough to play Spider-Man. Now, just for full disclosure, I know Donald Glover. We used to wrestle together in a comedy wrestling league at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York. (I was “The Mexican Equivalent” and he was the Jamaican “Rude Boy Roy.”) And trust me, you’re not going to be able to find a nerdier, funnier actor than Donald for the part. Also, he’d treat it with the respect and awe that any nerd comic book fan would give one of the greatest hero roles ever written. Frankly, I think he’d make an amazing Spidey.
Photo courtesy of io9.