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.