Stan Lee: African-American Spider-Man Would be “Confusing”

Photo: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

Stan Lee has finally spoken out about the Twitter campaign that’s been going on for some time to get Donald Glover, an African-American actor who’s currently on Community, to play Spider-Man in the movie reboot. You can listen to the entire statement here but the major points Lee made were:

  • “I don’t ever want to make it sound like I’m trying in any way to influence the Marvel people as to who to cast in any roles. That isn’t my job.”
  • “We’ve already had the Kingpin in ‘Daredevil’ portrayed by a black man [Michael Clarke Duncan], where he was white in the comics, and we’ve had Nick Fury portrayed by a black man [Samuel L. Jackson] where he was white in the comics. But not that many people had seen these characters—not that many moviegoers are familiar with them.”
  • “Everybody seems to be familiar with Spider-Man, so I say that it isn’t that it’s a racial issue—it’s just that it might be confusing to people. But that’s a matter for the people at Marvel to take into consideration. I certainly don’t want to weigh in on it in any way except to say I think Glover is a fine actor.”

I agree with Mr. Lee that it wouldn’t be a racial issue if Marvel doesn’t want to consider African-American actors for Spidey. It’s more about how we’ve always envisioned him. If the Wonder Woman movie ever gets made, I wouldn’t want a blond actress playing her (well, she’d have to dye her hair or don a wig), not because I’m a blondist but because the image of the brunette WW has been ingrained in me since I was a kid and I don’t want it messed with. I wouldn’t want a waifish actress, either, because WW is curvy and strong. And she’d have to wear the red, white and blue suit; they absolutely cannot put her in some black, sleek leather outfit like they’re considering for Thor. A commenter (who says he’s black) at said he would find a black Spidey confusing, just as he would if a white man plays Shaft.

My informal poll: Are there certain characters (not just superheroes) whose image is inviolable to you?



  • Reply
    June 11, 2010 at 10:39 am

    A blond Wonder Woman. Now that’s just crazy. They’d probably do something wacky like cast Cathy Lee Crosby in that role in a TV movie. (Hmmmmm. I wonder if that would work? Nah, probably not. Sounds like someone’s dream from Fantasy Island.)

  • Reply
    June 11, 2010 at 10:40 am

    A blondist?! That’s good, I like that!

    I noticed how people get all crazy over the silliest things when it comes to who can and can’t play a superhero or character from a book. It’s all about our imagination. We imbue a certain part of ourselves into the character and, together with whatever the creators/authors add to the description of the hero/heroine, we form an image and we refuse to let go of it.

    Liam Aiken was originally hired to play Harry Potter. He was fired after one day for not being British and J.K. Rowling insisted that all the actors be British.

    I guess what I am trying to say is it really doesn’t matter, does it? In our dreams WE play the hero and whatever gender, race, height, weight or hair color we are will look right on the character.

    That being said, Thor’s costume just makes him look like a evil sorcerer and so not Thor-like.

  • Reply
    June 11, 2010 at 11:06 am

    I’m open to a black Spider-Man. I don’t care. Just give us an actor who can sell it and a decent story along with it.

    Wonder Woman was cheesy. They can only make it better. I am a huge fan of what they did with the animated Justice League.

Leave a Reply