Gawker reports that some emails between Sony Pictures and Marvel have leaked through a huge WikiLeaks dump, and the memo Marvel gave Sony apparently states that Spider-Man must be a white, straight male, unless otherwise stated in the comic books.
“So what’s the issue?” you might be wondering. “Peter Parker has been white and straight since his inception.” That’s true, and even though the leaked email was quite blunt on everything Peter Parker is and isn’t and what he should and shouldn’t do (which includes not doing drugs, not having sex before the age of 16, not selling drugs and more), these descriptors basically describe what we already knew about Peter. Peter’s always been that white dorky kid who gets powers.
Since I wasn’t particularly surprised, I didn’t even bother to write anything about it. I’m not against comic book characters getting a racial makeover ala Nick Fury, since there are so many white characters in comic books and making movies that follow the comics would block out a whole demographic of working actors. But it’s not like Peter Parker’s the only Spider-Man out there. There’s Miles Morales, who is Spider-Man in some alternate Earth or something. I was more disappointed that Marvel or Sony didn’t want to make a Miles Morales movie than I was about the insistence that Peter reamin white.
The reason I am writing about the leaked memo, though, is that, once again, Marvel is doing some backtracking under the guise of “We planned this all along” Jedi mind-trickery. Isn’t it such a coincidence that a week after news about the leaked memo comes out that Marvel, who declined comment on the memo itself, announces that Miles Morales is now the the permanent Spider-Man in the main Marvel universe?
The Ultimate Spider-Man series with Morales will be written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by Sara Pichelli. Bendis said to the New York Daily News that the inclusion of Morales to the main universe is an aim to show that anyone can be Spider-Man.
Many kids of color who when they were playing superheroes with their friends, their friends wouldn’t let them be Batman or Superman because they don’t look like those heroes but they could be Spider-Man because anyone could be under that mask. But now it’s true. It’s meant a great deal to a great many people…Our message has to be it’s not Spider-Man with an asterisk, it’s the real Spider-Man for kids of color, for adults of color and everybody else.
Bendis, let me commend you on subtly weaving in the issues brought up by the Marvel memo and placing subtle digs at Superman and Batman. It would appear it’s DC’s move to do…something.
In any event, Marvel does show that they are willing to fix their mistakes when they come up. They did abysmally with their Black Widow promotion and merchandise; now they’re creating a line of products specifically for women. Marvel has gone far to create a more diverse line of superheroes, including a female Thor. What’s annoying is that sometimes, in the case of the Black Widow debacle and this Spider-Man memo, there has to be a public dust-up before someone realizes there is a problem. But at least it seems like Marvel takes their licks and changes accordingly.
Now, if Marvel could just get someone who can write Black Widow like a character, that’s be great. It’d be astronomical if someone could throw more hints at a Falcon/Captain America flirtation, but I think I’m asking for too much at that point.