The big buzz about the latest installment of Marvel's resident web-slinger, Spider-Man: Homecoming, is the film's diversity among its supporting cast, something the film's director, Jon Watts, virtue-signaled about to the Los Angeles Times.
"Homecoming proved, for roughly the 5 billionth time, something that people have been saying for quite some time now—that diverse casts and profit go hand in hand," declared Fusion. According to the director Watts, this was all intentional, holding casting calls around the world from day one.
“A big part of it was what I thought the cast should look like,” he explained. “These are what the nerdy kids would be like, these are the cool kids, and because I was pulling from real life it was this very diverse group. And that was my pitch from the very beginning.”
“It’s like a magnet school where all kinds of kids go, they just have to be really smart and test to get in,” said Watts. “We thought if we made it that kind of school, then you were going to have a really interesting mix of people.”
Fusion appreciated this effort, but then lamented that the movie's hero is still a white male, even though Spider-Man has always been a white male:
This is great and all, but it also begs the question: if diversity is both as important as Watts claims and as lucrative as the evidence shows, why is this movie still centered around the same old white people we’ve seen a million times? Yes, a diverse supporting cast is important, but they’re still revolving around two white dudes (both of them relatable, one of them maybe a Trump supporter) duking it out.
We’ve already had two white Spider-Men. The current Spider-Man in the Marvel comics is Miles Morales, an Afro-Latinx kid. And the internet made itself pretty clear all the way back in 2010 that they wanted #DonaldGlover4Spiderman. (Donald Glover is in the film as Aaron Davis, who in the comics, is Miles Morales’ uncle, so perhaps we may get to see Miles in a sequel or two, but still.)
I get that progress is slow, and we’re just now figuring out that not only do people of color like seeing themselves in media, but the elusive straight white men demographic enjoys diversity too. But after seven Spider-Man movies in 15 years, and a more diverse source material, maybe it’s time to change things up a bit.
Or maybe not, as Marvel's own executives admitted that too much forced diversity -- the key word here is forced -- caused their comic book sales to drop. Fans are down with diverse superheroes like Black Panther or Wonder Woman, but don't want the comic book canon messed with just for the sake of social justice .