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#41 Ryan H.

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 03:07 PM

Peter can't be blond, because he isn't a blond. I know that the Peter Parker clone Ben Reilly bleached his hair; I could accept a storyline in which Peter bleaches his hair. But Peter has dark hair, because he does. I'm blond, and I identify with Peter, but I don't want Peter to look like me.

This reminds me of the cries "James Bond is blond?" that followed the casting of Daniel Craig in CASINO ROYALE.

I'm so not laughing. I have no idea how you meant that, but it strikes me as neither funny nor appropriate, and a smiley doesn't really help.

It's a reference to the internet wars that are currently waging in regards to this very topic, where the group that doesn't want Parker to be black is very quickly labeled by the other camp as backward, racist idiots. In my experience, it almost always happens when other such discussions occur (like the "What if James Bond was black?" one, which I've seen float around more than a few times), and a comment referring to "separate but equal" inevitably arises at some point. Kind of a Godwin's law sort of thing.

I apologize, though, and retract the remark.

Edited by Ryan H., 06 June 2010 - 03:38 PM.


#42 Persona

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 03:15 PM

I'm still mad at the Kingpin being black, much less Peter Parker. The Kingpin belongs to a culture of characters very much like a group of people I see in the papers every day here in Chicago. Those people are not black. That's just the way it is, sorry.

Why not just make a film about Power Man? I don't get it.

#43 SDG

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 04:33 PM

Peter can't be blond, because he isn't a blond. I know that the Peter Parker clone Ben Reilly bleached his hair; I could accept a storyline in which Peter bleaches his hair. But Peter has dark hair, because he does. I'm blond, and I identify with Peter, but I don't want Peter to look like me.

This reminds me of the cries "James Bond is blond?" that followed the casting of Daniel Craig in CASINO ROYALE.

Yes, but. First, with Bond, the source material is non-visual, so the character's looks were never as defined or as significant from the start -- and the movie franchise established an identity and a fan base much less tied to the source material anyway, with a parade of actors in a role in which the character's specific appearance wasn't particularly important. Also crucially, Bond fans aren't emotionally invested in Bond as a person the way that Spider-Man fans are in Peter. Peter is like an old friend; Bond is merely a fantasy figure.

#44 Ryan H.

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 05:08 PM

Also crucially, Bond fans aren't emotionally invested in Bond as a person the way that Spider-Man fans are in Peter. Peter is like an old friend; Bond is merely a fantasy figure.

You're suggesting a change in mere hair color would compromise that investment?

#45 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 05:39 PM

SDG wrote:
: No no no. This super-hero is all about who he is under the mask.

Exactly. And like I say, if you change Peter Parker, then you have to change a lot of OTHER characters, too, because Peter Parker's identity is very much wrapped up in his relationships with his Uncle, his Aunt, his girlfriend(s), etc. And once you've changed all those characters, just how recognizably "Spider-Man" could such a movie be?

: Yes, but. First, with Bond, the source material is non-visual, so the character's looks were never as defined or as significant from the start -- and the movie franchise established an identity and a fan base much less tied to the source material anyway, with a parade of actors in a role in which the character's specific appearance wasn't particularly important.

Yeah, though it bears mentioning that Ian Fleming defined Bond as the offspring of a Scottish father and a Swiss mother -- so presumably an actor who would play the character should at least be plausibly Scottish-Swiss, or perhaps British-Swiss. (And if memory serves, Fleming didn't identify Bond's father as Scottish until AFTER Sean Connery had been cast in the early movies -- so the movies influenced the non-visual source material, there (much like some people have argued that the Harry Potter movies have influenced the later Harry Potter books).)

Fleming also drew a picture of Bond "to aid the Daily Express comic strip artists," according to Wikipedia -- and the Bond that he drew had dark hair. For whatever that's worth.

But honestly, if Daniel Craig is blonde, I've never really noticed. So he can't be THAT blonde.

Ryan H. wrote:
: And no one seemed to mind the change of Ra's al Ghul from Arab to Japanese.

Or to an Irishman posing under a French name, as it were.

But this, I think, goes to my earlier point about iconic characters who "everybody knows". It's not just a question of what the FANS expect, it's a question of what the populace as a whole expects. If the Superman or Spider-Man or Batman of your movie look different than what "everybody knows", then the big vast audience that you're counting on to make your movie a hit will wonder what kind of "statement" you're trying to make, and like I say, down that road there are minefields galore. On the other hand, when it comes to characters like Ra's al Ghul or Harvey Dent, nobody outside of fandom really expects anything in particular -- they just don't KNOW those characters -- so they'll accept pretty much whatever you give them. (And besides, do even fans really think of Ra's al Ghul as an "Arab", as opposed to some immortal international supervillain? How many Arabs have a father named Sensei and a daughter named Talia?)

I must admit, though, that I would have been ticked off if they had hired pretty much anybody OTHER than Morgan Freeman to play Lucius Fox. :)

#46 SDG

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 05:43 PM

Also crucially, Bond fans aren't emotionally invested in Bond as a person the way that Spider-Man fans are in Peter. Peter is like an old friend; Bond is merely a fantasy figure.

You're suggesting a change in mere hair color would compromise that investment?

I'm saying if he doesn't look like Peter, that would cause an emotional disconnect, yes. In the world of comic book art, hair color is a major identifier. Brown hair is one way that we know Peter is Peter and not, say, Flash Thompson or the Human Torch.

#47 Persona

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 05:44 PM

And like I say, if you change Peter Parker, then you have to change a lot of OTHER characters, too, because Peter Parker's identity is very much wrapped up in his relationships with his Uncle, his Aunt, his girlfriend(s), etc. And once you've changed all those characters, just how recognizably "Spider-Man" could such a movie be?

It would be like The Wiz to The Wizard of Oz.

#48 SDG

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 06:32 PM

But honestly, if Daniel Craig is blonde, I've never really noticed. So he can't be THAT blonde.

True. He's got kind of nondescript hair.

: And no one seemed to mind the change of Ra's al Ghul from Arab to Japanese.

Liam Neeson in a goatee isn't too glaringly unlike various portrayals of Ra's al Ghul. I was just annoyed that they mispronounced it "Roz" instead of "Raish."

Even so, one villain in a rogue's gallery isn't equivalent to the hero. Anyway, you saw how annoyed Stef was over making the Kingpin black. Actually, personally, I might have been able to deal with a black Kingpin if he'd come across as Miller's character, a brilliant monster who projects boundless power and control. (Michael Clarke Duncan wasn't up to the task, alas.)

Somehow, the Kingpin being bald makes a difference: Without hair, the Kingpin in the comics wouldn't necessarily look all that different if he were black. You might even have to make a note to the colorist. And since his only family is his wife Vanessa, who's not that big a character, his race isn't the integral part of his story that Peter's is. And, again, he's a villain in a rogue's gallery, not the hero.

And like I say, if you change Peter Parker, then you have to change a lot of OTHER characters, too, because Peter Parker's identity is very much wrapped up in his relationships with his Uncle, his Aunt, his girlfriend(s), etc. And once you've changed all those characters, just how recognizably "Spider-Man" could such a movie be?

It would be like The Wiz to The Wizard of Oz.

Exactamundo.

#49 Ryan H.

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 07:33 PM

And like I say, if you change Peter Parker, then you have to change a lot of OTHER characters, too, because Peter Parker's identity is very much wrapped up in his relationships with his Uncle, his Aunt, his girlfriend(s), etc. And once you've changed all those characters, just how recognizably "Spider-Man" could such a movie be?

But the change is cosmetic; I'm not sure the change in race would alter the nature of those relationships much at all.

To reiterate, I have no interest in a black Spider-Man for the sake of having a black Spider-Man. My support for this notion comes purely from my support for Donald Glover in the part, who would be a terrific Peter Parker. He might require a noticeable visual change for the character, as well as for that of his family, but he'd be able to pull off Peter Parker's personality beautifully.

#50 SDG

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 07:41 PM

Ryan H, I forget, are you married? Suppose you came home one day and your wife were a different race than she is now. Would you consider that a "cosmetic" change?

#51 Ryan H.

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 07:43 PM

Ryan H, I forget, are you married?

I am.

Suppose you came home one day and your wife were a different race than she is now. Would you consider that a "cosmetic" change?

Well, it's a kind of a ludicrous scenario, and I'm not entirely sure that it relates to an altogether quite fictional character. But yeah, it would be a cosmetic change.

The argument for keeping Peter Parker white seems to go, "It's always been that way." Well, fair enough. Far be it from me to argue with a traditionalist. But I see nothing about Parker as a character, beyond pure appearances, that has much to do with his whiteness.

Edited by Ryan H., 06 June 2010 - 07:47 PM.


#52 SDG

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 08:38 PM

Well, it's a kind of a ludicrous scenario, and I'm not entirely sure that it relates to an altogether quite fictional character. But yeah, it would be a cosmetic change.

I am now wondering if this is a response that could only be made by a white person. Would any black person say that becoming white would be a merely "cosmetic" change? (And if it is only cosmetic, then how is it the "dramatic" change that Bobbin says is necessary to establish a new franchise?)

Going a step further, I'm not sure it's not a rather gnostic response. We are our bodies as well as our souls. I have no racial preference for whiteness -- if anything, I think black skin is more desirable on several levels than white skin -- but my skin is white, and if it were black it would not be mine, because I would not be me. If Suzanne were black she would not be Suzanne.

#53 Ryan H.

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 08:59 PM

I am now wondering if this is a response that could only be made by a white person.

Have I ever said I'm white?

At any rate, I am. My wife, FWIW, is not. She's predominantly Mexican.

(And if it is only cosmetic, then how is it the "dramatic" change that Bobbin says is necessary to establish a new franchise?)

It isn't. But, as I've said, I support the change only in relation to actor Donald Glover, which is where this whole notion began. I see no reason to make Spidey black just to give the 2.0 franchise some new edge or any such nonsense.

Going a step further, I'm not sure it's not a rather gnostic response. We are our bodies as well as our souls. I have no racial preference for whiteness -- if anything, I think black skin is more desirable on several levels than white skin -- but my skin is white, and if it were black it would not be mine, because I would not be me. If Suzanne were black she would not be Suzanne.

Not all "gnostic" thought--no matter how much that seems to be a dirty word these days--is entirely mistaken.

But I also didn't take your illustration entirely seriously. I do believe that if I come home, and the color of my wife's skin has magically changed one color to another, then yes, a cosmetic change has occurred, much in the same way that if my wife had nose surgery while I was away on vacation, it would be a cosmetic change. If you're suggesting, of course, that she was a different race from birth, and had to endure all the cultural baggage that goes with things, well, then, yes, she'd be a different person than the person I know and love, though to what extent would depend on a great many factors.

Edited by Ryan H., 06 June 2010 - 11:05 PM.


#54 Persona

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 09:00 PM

But... but.. Even Steve Martin was "born a poor black child." :)

#55 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 11:20 PM

Ryan H. wrote:
: But the change is cosmetic; I'm not sure the change in race would alter the nature of those relationships much at all. . . .
: If you're suggesting, of course, that she was a different race from birth, and had to endure all the cultural baggage that goes with things, well, then, yes, she'd be a different person than the person I know and love, though to what extent would depend on a great many factors.

Do you really think the filmmakers could change the race of Peter Parker and all his closest supporting characters WITHOUT bringing any "cultural baggage" into the picture?

: But, as I've said, I support the change only in relation to actor Donald Glover, which is where this whole notion began.

Actually, it seems that Glover hopped on a bandwagon that had already been started by someone else. According to MTV Splash Page:

Initiated by a post on io9 titled "The last thing Spider-Man should be is another white guy," the campaign kicked into high gear when a reader dropped the name of Glover, a 27-year-old black actor, in the comment section. The actor subsequently echoed the suggestion on Twitter and encouraged fans to make it a reality. Glover even created a Photoshopped image of himself as Spidey and started a Twitter hashtag for the campaign: #donald4spiderman.

That io9 article, incidentally, repeats the rather dubious claim that Captain America could have been plausibly played by Will Smith. Uh, well, no, he couldn't have been. Yes, yes, of course, the military might very well have tested its super-serum on black soldiers, too. But there is no way in hell they would have made their propaganda poster boy a black man -- not in the 1940s. It may seem silly to argue for historical plausibility in a comic-book movie, but, well, there you go.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway, 07 June 2010 - 03:54 AM.


#56 Ryan H.

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 11:23 PM

Do you really think the filmmakers could change the race of Peter Parker and all his closest supporting characters WITHOUT bringing any "cultural baggage" into the picture?

Given the right filmmakers, yes, I'd say so.

#57 Bobbin Threadbare

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 01:12 PM

This thread has reminded me of the classically bad Superman story where Lois Lane becomes black. I don't think this is anywhere near the same level of gimmicks, but the opponents seem to feel it might be a similar result.

Personally, I'm still not sold on Peter Parker's race being such a defining aspect of his character. I'll buy his "appearance" simply because he's been depicted in pretty much the same way for so long in comics, but I can't think of a single way his "race" makes a difference.

SDG wrote...

Peter Parker has a heritage. That heritage includes Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Forest Hills, Empire State University, Grantray-Lawrence Animation, Nicholas Hammond, John Romita Sr., various Marvel Productions series, various computer game series, Todd MacFarlane, Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire, that Universal Studios ride, the late, great "Spectacular Spider-Man" on Kids WB and Disney XD, and a Broadway musical that may or may not make it to the stage.

By and large, throughout most of this heritage I am able to accept that it is one character in all of these incarnations. A black actor might easily create a much more interesting character than Tobey Maguire (it wouldn't be hard); it would not be the same character. At all. If it were a character I cared less about, I might not mind. I do care and I do mind.


My argument is that all of these that you mention are different versions of Spider-Man(&Peter Parker) already. The Spider-Man from the comics is distinct from the live action TV shows, from the various cartoons, the movies, the Ultimate comics, the video games, etc. The beauty of character continuity like this is that it doesn't matter if in this story Peter has just met Gwen Stacey while in another version he's having a love affair and then fighting her evil clone from the 28th dimension.

I'll continue to argue that what defines Peter Parker is his humor, his intelligence, his tenacity and his never-catch-a-break luck, not the color of his skin, hair, eyes, etc. Those are the things that I think of when I think of Spider-Man. Sure, a black Spider-Man would be unrealistic(ha!) if it was set in the 60s when

Are there similar controversies about Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury? Or is that just so "awesome" that it gets a pass?

Persona wrote...

Why not just make a film about Power Man? I don't get it.


Because no one knows who Power Man is outside of comic readers. Just look at what a financial failure the straight to DVD "Wonder Woman" movie was for the reason. But I'm glad you mention it. Power Man is a great example of a character who is as much defined by his race as anything else. He dresses as an exploitation movie character for goodness sake.

SDG wrote...

Or to an Irishman posing under a French name, as it were.


I was actually referring to the other person who claimed to be Ra's Al Ghul in that movie. And no one seems to care that an Australian has made 4 movies playing a character who is inextricably tied to being Canadian. And of all the criticisms of Clash of the Titans the one I haven't heard is that Sam Worthington is not Greek enough.

I'm trying to think of dramatic race switches that have or haven't worked. The current The Last Airbender debate is one that keeps coming to mind.

This whole discussion makes me wonder if we should just make culturally specific movies, ie. a German Spider-Man for German audiences. Something like this.

#58 SDG

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 01:36 PM

Are there similar controversies about Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury? Or is that just so "awesome" that it gets a pass?

I don't know about "controversies," but the Jackson-inspired bald black bad-ass Nick Fury in Marvel's Ultimates line is, to me, a wholly different character than the original Nick Fury, plain and simple. He's got the same name and pieces of the same job, but he's not the same guy. At all. I shrug and move on, because I'm not all that invested in Nick Fury, like I am in Peter Parker.

#59 SDG

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 01:46 PM

My argument is that all of these that you mention are different versions of Spider-Man(&Peter Parker) already. The Spider-Man from the comics is distinct from the live action TV shows, from the various cartoons, the movies, the Ultimate comics, the video games, etc. The beauty of character continuity like this is that it doesn't matter if in this story Peter has just met Gwen Stacey while in another version he's having a love affair and then fighting her evil clone from the 28th dimension.

Yet they are also all, by and large, recognizably or acceptably the same character, the same person, just as King Arthur is recognizably the same in Mallory, Chretien and White. He is not the same in Fuqua. Narrative traditions can stretch, but there are breaking points.

I'll continue to argue that what defines Peter Parker is his humor, his intelligence, his tenacity and his never-catch-a-break luck, not the color of his skin, hair, eyes, etc. Those are the things that I think of when I think of Spider-Man.

When I think of my friends, I think of what they look like. I can imagine my fat friend losing weight; he would still be my friend. I can imagine my long-haired friend cutting his hair. I can't imagine my black friend being white, or my white friend being black. Skin deep is actually pretty deep.

Why not just make a film about Power Man? I don't get it.

Because no one knows who Power Man is outside of comic readers.

Fair enough, although they are making a Power Man movie, aren't they? Of course PM isn't as awesome as S-M. But you could do a black hero who was.

And no one seems to care that an Australian has made 4 movies playing a character who is inextricably tied to being Canadian.

Well, that's pretty irrelevant, since Canadians and Australians can easily play one another! They didn't change Wolverine into an Aussie; he's still a Canadian, just played by an Aussie.

FWIW, I have heard people complain that Jackman was just too tall to play a character whose short height was pretty significant to his character. And, actually, I see their point.

Edited by SDG, 07 June 2010 - 01:49 PM.


#60 Thom Wade

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 02:09 PM

Personally, I'm still not sold on Peter Parker's race being such a defining aspect of his character. I'll buy his "appearance" simply because he's been depicted in pretty much the same way for so long in comics, but I can't think of a single way his "race" makes a difference.



I speak as one who supports Donald Glover, as others have stated because of Donald (I jokingly suggested on of his Community co-stars as J. Jonah Jameson) and not because I think Spidey should be shaken up in such a fashion. But I do understand and respect SDG's passion. I think it is a desire to see the character respected as they were created and became loved. This is similar to the frustrations expressed over the Last Airbender. Everything about that cartoon screams Asian culture and characters of Asian/Inuit descent...so the casting call goes out to White (or other races)?!

Are there similar controversies about Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury? Or is that just so "awesome" that it gets a pass?



Naw. It gets a pass because the Ultimate version of Fury is based on Sam Jackson. I think the discussion might have been different had Bendis made Ultimate Peter Parker black.

Persona wrote...

Why not just make a film about Power Man? I don't get it.


Because no one knows who Power Man is outside of comic readers. Just look at what a financial failure the straight to DVD "Wonder Woman" movie was for the reason. But I'm glad you mention it. Power Man is a great example of a character who is as much defined by his race as anything else. He dresses as an exploitation movie character for goodness sake.



Because Blade fared so poorly? Seriously, think about the fact that Marvel's film revival was a no tier character that people barely remembered. It was Blade that got Marvel seen as maybe a contender for movies. A Power Man movie is not out of the realm of question. He's led the Avengers. The write script? The right director? The right actor? Power Man could be a power house.


All this said... I find it unlikely that Donald will get the part. But I like him, and I want to see the guy have success. :)