No, I don’t Think Spider-man should be a Black guy. Thanks for Asking.

Black outfit? Cool. Making him a black guy? Kind of weird.

This is going to be a weird post, for a few reasons.  First, I barely even read comics anymore.  Second, I’m going to have to make a good argument against making Spider-man a Black guy.  I can’t think of a better way to spend my Friday morning, actually.

This all started when someone in the Internets decided that it might be a good idea to have Peter Parker not be this typical ol’ white dude.  The Spider-man franchise is looking to reboot itself.  I think this is a great idea, just like Batman did with Batman Begins.  But the idea that Batman could be a different race?  I have some issue with that.  First, here is what iO9, the wonderful geek site, has to say about the whole thing:

“I’m all for Donald’s campaign — he’s a talented dude who’d kill it as Peter Parker,” Bernardin tells Comic Riffs. “But I think there are lots of talented dudes who’d kill it that we haven’t heard from yet. That was the point of my article: Not that Spider-Man should be black, or Latino, or Asian, but that to ask the question, Why isn’t Sony willing to even entertain the possibility, especially since none of their candidates bring anything to the table save handsomeness and youth? Let’s have the conversation.”

Bernardin brings up an excellent point.  Why can’t Peter Parker by Black or Asian or White or Whatever?  While we are at it, why can’t Captain Kirk be Black?  Might as well make Blade a White guy.  Storm should be White in the next X-men movie.  And, of course, when we reboot the Cosby show, it will be a show about upper-middle class White people living in Brownstones in Manhattan.

I’m going to say this, and it might take a second to sink in.  Race doesn’t matter.  It just doesn’t.  I believe this in my personal life, in my creative life, in all aspects of my life. (And I’m a black guy, by the way, so I’ve thought about Race a bunch, and then I realized it didn’t matter and stopped thinking about it). The issues that we believe are racial issues are actually CLASS issues.  It is about the economic-social strata that you are stuck in.  That is what matters.  Peter Parker has no parents, lives with his Aunt and Uncle, is a mild genius and is in love with Mary Jane Watson.  Those parts of his character matter, and those are never going to change.  So, with that reasoning, yes.  Yes, Spider-man can be a black guy under the mask.  However, why?  Why should we change his race?  If we just established that race doesn’t matter, then why change it?  Besides some media stunt to get people into the theater, why change his race?  Exactly.  There is no reason.  None.  At all.

There have been times where I wanted more Black Characters.  Battlestar Galactica was strangely Black-less, exempt for the wonderful “D”, but she was a basket case half the time.  Wanting more racial representation is different than wanting to change a character’s race.  Making sure race is identified properly is a priority that we should stand behind.  Changing a characters race just to “see what happens” sounds oddly racists to me, even when I know there is no racists intent behind it.

Character matters.  What the character goes through and how the character goes through it.  Changing Peter Parker to a black guy will be “Neat” and “Cool” and “Edgy”, but we should never use race as a gimmick.  It shouldn’t be like changing shirts or making your Facebook profile picture different.  Spider-man is who he is, and changing his race won’t do anything to that.  Race is an option. So, yeah, go ahead.  Make him a black guy.  Ten minutes into the movie, we’ll realize that it never mattered in the first place and we’ll be mad that, once again, minorities have been marginalized into a fashionable style decision.  Go ahead and disagree with me. That’s what the comments are for.

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7 thoughts on “No, I don’t Think Spider-man should be a Black guy. Thanks for Asking.

  1. I agree 100% that it shouldn’t be an issue. Whatever race he is doesn’t change his circumstances and what makes him a great character. That being said, Marvel has changed the races in their Ultimate universe with decent results. It’s one reason we have Samuel L Jackson playing Nick Fury in the Iron Man movies. Nick Fury was white since he was created back in the 60’s (don’t fact check me on that date).

    I do believe that they should keep Peter Parker white, if for no other reason than because they’ve never messed with his race in the comic books. While he could be any race, the canon sticks with him being a little white nerd that gains superpowers. If changing his race did something significant to the character and made him more interesting, then give it a shot. But, as you said, it doesn’t. He’ll still be living with his aunt and uncle, love Mary Jane and get bitten by a radioactive spider.

    Not sure if you know, but they actually messed with Captain America’s race a while back, too. I believe the story was about the first person they tried the super solder serum on, and he was black. I never read the story as I’ve been out of the comic collecting biz for a while.

    Great read, btw.

    • The Captain America thing was interesting, but I didn’t like it for almost the same reasons. The US Government has experimented on Poor blacks in the past (Tuskegee), and I think Marvel was trying to touch on that. But, ugh. I like story telling for story telling’s sake, not to make a racial comment. However, what about Milestone comics by in the 90s? That was sort of doing the same thing. Very interesting…

  2. I agree with you Slacks. Why change the race, they are what they are and what we’ve come to identify them as. I don’t see the point except to force inclusion at the expense of our childhood nostalgia, and that seems patronizing and pointless, so I agree with you there.

    But I do have an issue with the assertion that “Race doesn’t matter.” I think to make class the culprit is a cop out because often race is a primary factor in socioeconomic outcomes. I concede that class has more to do with life outcomes than race does, but you can’t neglect to mention that who falls in what class is disproportionate, due to a history of a prejudicial society and laws (but even still racism and prejudice are covert now and less in your face… sometimes. In its purest form it hate exist still, but at baseline we all have prejudices, it’s about how much we let them influence how we deal with others). But I digress; let’s bring it back to Peter Parker.

    When the Superman and Batman characters were developed in the 30’s and that legacy was being formed, the likelihood of minority characters was zero in this country. With the 60’s you saw a couple of minority characters emerge, but they were second fiddle to the white characters like Spiderman that were being created. So we have a legacy of heroes that we all know and love that in the development stages could have never been a minority in an overtly prejudicial and racist America. So let’s keep them what they are, but they are what they are because race mattered. Also, by recognizing that there is less representation of minorities in comic books and shows even still today, then you recognize that race still matters, otherwise there wouldn’t be a need for more representation… it would naturally occur proportionately.

    • It is a little “Chicken or the Egg” type stuff. Yeah, black people are typically poor because of Slavery. But is that racial? I mean, what if there were white slaves in the South? Wow, let’s not even touch that.

      • Wha? Black people aren’t poor because of slavery. Last I checked that was gone a long time ago. Black people are poor the same reason anybody gets poor because of their culture. Black culture today means getting food stamps and spend $1000 on a hair weave then buy a Cadillac despite the fact you can barely feed your kids. Nothing to do with slavery. I’m black btw.

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