Toby McGuire, Andrew Garfield, Tom Holland. What do all these actors have in common? They're white, straight and have all played the comic book character Spider-Man (Holland will play Spider-Man in the third Captain America film in 2017). Now this is no coincidence. According to Spider-Man creator, Stan Lee, this is how Spider-Man must always be.
Last week, Sony emails were leaked that revealed licensing agreements with strict guidelines regarding what our favorite webbed crime fighter must look like.
"Unsurprisingly, the agreement stipulates Spidey must be male and that he doesn’t torture, needlessly kill, use foul language, smoke, abuse alcohol or have sex before the age of 16, according to copies of the e-mails," says Washington Post reporter Michael E. Miller. "More controversially, however, the agreement says Spider-Man’s alter ego, Peter Parker, must be “Caucasian and heterosexual.”
As if the situation couldn't get any worse, Stan Lee weighed in on the controversy. Lee addressed why Spider-Man's appearance should never change in an interview with Newsarama.
“I think the world has a place for gay superheroes, certainly,” Lee said when addressing why Spidey should stay heterosexual. “But again, I don’t see any reason to change the sexual proclivities of a character once they’ve already been established. I have no problem with creating new, homosexual superheroes.”
When explaining why Spidey should stay white, Lee had a little more to say.
“It has nothing to do with being anti-gay, or anti-black, or anti-Latino, or anything like that,” Lee said. “Latino characters should stay Latino. The Black Panther should certainly not be Swiss. I just see no reason to change that which has already been established when it’s so easy to add new characters. I say create new characters the way you want to. Hell, I’ll do it myself.”
If you're like me, you're probably hella confused right now. Stan Lee is basically saying that we should stick to the status quo when it comes to our superheroes, and the only way to get a new variety is to invent new ones.
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Clearly he doesn't understand the gravity of statements like that. While you are the creator of Spider-Man (and a hundred other superheroes who I personally love), I have to say Stan that you are in the wrong here. Let me tell you why.
Creating separate, and frankly less popular, characters when you need to represent another ethnicity solves nothing. In fact, it gives off the illusion like you are pushing race issues to the side. I mean let's not have to bring up the great Donald Glover Spider-Man debacle of 2014.
We are in a nation of change, just in case you didn't know. We have an African American president. Gay marriage was legalized in all 50 states. We can handle change, and as long as we pay to keep seeing your movies, you shouldn't be so close-minded when it comes to giving it to us.