Editorial: Superficiality You Can’t See

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Recently, Marvel and Sony struck a deal that has appealed to the masses of fans clamoring about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Spider-Man, a long time cultural icon, has finally been confirmed to join the movie series offered by Marvel.

This came at great shock to many; previously, Sony had made it clear that they were never going to let go of Spider-Man, especially because the film franchise was one of their most successful in the Tobey Maguire era. However, the franchise had fallen from grace in recent times, with the latest installment of the series disappointing many and earning mediocre reviews.

Since the announcement of the inclusion of Spider-Man in the MCU, there has been a flurry of delays for the upcoming films in the blockbuster franchise, all possibly due to an effort to insert the wall crawler into as many movies as possible.

With the rapid development of the Marvel Series, this leaves Andrew Garfield, the current Peter Parker, out of the mix. Replacements have already been observed with celebrities like Logan Lerman currently lead the mix. However, a relatively new name has stepped forward as one of the possible candidates of succession, Donald Glover.

This is where a lot disagreement comes in: can, or should, Spider-Man be portrayed by Glover, a black man?

In the comics, Peter Parker is white. He has always been white. But what if he weren’t? What if Peter Parker was asian, or hispanic, or black? Would his story be impacted in any meaningful way?

No. It wouldn’t.

Peter Parker isn’t a person— he isn’t real. Spider-Man is a story, and he is the embodiment of his story’s themes. He is a superhero who represents the necessity for the responsible use of great power. He is an idea, he is an ideal.

Spider-Man is not black, and he is not white. It does not matter what color he, or Aunt May or Uncle Ben are. Everyone knows that Spider-Man is a cool, fast talking, highly intelligent, and somewhat annoying superhero. Those traits are not restricted to one race, which is hidden and literally a non-issue when he wears a full body mesh suit anyway.

But here is the thing: if Spider-Man is doing his job, then for most of the movie, Donald Glover should be wearing the suit all the time. The color of his skin has literally no impact on the life threatening battles that the titular character gets into on a regular basis, unless of course, he is transported back in time to pre-Martin Luther King America. Then perhaps he will be fighting backwards-thinking lynch mobs instead of the urban delinquents that he always does.

Movies are meant to make you feel emotion for the character, simple. If the emotions felt towards a character changes because of superficial factors such as race, then perhaps this new movie isn’t for you.

About The Author

Stephen Chan

Executive Editor of the NJIT Vector. A computer engineering student that loves writing, I took it to the newspaper.

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