Spider-Man is being born again… again. After successful negotiations between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios, the web-slinger is getting ready to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe – probably making his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War – and will star in his own MCU standalone movie in 2017.
Andrew Garfield, who played Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man movies, will not be reprising the role – and recent casting rumors have pointed to young stars Dylan O’Brien and Logan Lerman becoming the new Mr. Parker onscreen. Given that whoever takes the role will be the third actor to play Spider-Man in less than a decade, however, some have suggested that the latest reboot of the superhero on screen should change things up by having Ultimate Marvel character Miles Morales behind the mask instead of Peter Parker.
In the official press release announcing the Sony/Marvel partnership, Sony Pictures president Doug Belgrad explicitly named Peter Parker as the character who would be joining the MCU. However, TheWrap reporter Jeff Sneider has opened up fresh speculation during a recent Meet the Movie Press podcast, when he claimed that (presumably) based on his sources, it is very unlikely that Spider-Man will be played by a white actor. Here’s a transcript of the conversation.
Jeff Sneider: This is not set in stone, guys, but I’m telling you right now: Spider-Man’s not going to be white.
Nathaniel Rogers: Really?
JS: Spider-Man is not going to be white.
NR: Is that your speculation, or…?
JS: I’m 95% sure. Spider-Man’s going to be most likely black. But there’s a chance he could also be latino. 95% sure: not white.
NR: If that happens then, damn it Marvel, if that happens do not call on Peter Parker. Call on Miles Morales, please.
JS: I don’t think it’s going to be Peter Parker.
As comic book movies have come to dominate the box office, race has become an increasingly hot topic with some fans directing a great deal of ire at the idea of traditionally white comic book characters like Heimdall and Johnny Storm being played by black actors. There is a comic book precedent for a Spider-Man who isn’t white (Miles Morales is half-black, half-latino), but that didn’t do much to soothe the outraged response when casting for The Amazing Spider-Man took place and some fans suggested Community star Donald Glover.
In a recent series of controversial leaked e-mails, Sony chairman Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin speculated that President Obama probably liked Django Unchained and Think Like a Man. Sneider speculated that Sony’s desire to combat the perception of racism among the studio’s higher-ups may play into the Spider-Man casting.
“I really feel strongly. Sony has an opportunity to beat Marvel and DC to the punch with a major black comic book character. Like I mentioned last week, the emails that leaked were perceived as racist in some quarters. I really think that’s going to play into things.”
[Update: Sneider has provided follow-up comments on Twitter.]
Never said Spider-Man would be Miles Morales, said I was 95% sure Spidey WON'T be white & while they COULD do a Black PP, MM's a possibility— Jeff Sneider (@TheInSneider) February 23, 2015
White actors are still going out for Spider-Man but their reps are telling me they think Sony is leaning "ethnic."— Jeff Sneider (@TheInSneider) February 23, 2015
I dropped that nugget on MEET THE MOVIE PRESS because it is NOT confirmed and I only report news on TheWrap that has been CONFIRMED somehow.— Jeff Sneider (@TheInSneider) February 23, 2015
Casting a black or latino actor as Spider-Man would certainly help to diversify the face of the MCU, since so far every single Marvel movie has been about a white character and the Avengers are made up exclusively of white characters (with the possible technical exception of the Hulk). Marvel’s planned line-up of standalone movies includes its first movie with a non-white lead (Black Panther) and its first movie with a female lead (Captain Marvel), which could indicate that Marvel boss Kevin Feige is keen to change things up as well.
It’s fairly safe to assume that Sneider read the press release mentioning Peter Parker by name; and if the revelation about Spider-Man joining the MCU has taught us anything, it’s that studios’ plans can change. For now, though, consider this merely an interesting piece of industry buzz and wait for more concrete casting news when Captain America: Civil War begins filming.
Spider-Man will hit theaters on July 27th, 2017.