You’re Doing It Wrong!: Spider-Man Reboot Casting

This is a post I’ve been meaning to do for a while, but I’m glad I’ve waited (or lazily done so) until now. Ever since Sony Pictures announced in January that the trio of Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst had stepped away from the movie franchise the internet has been abuzz with discussion and speculation as to who should take up the superhero’s mantle. For the most part, everything that I have seen has been completely and utterly the wrong direction Sony should go with.

For starters, let’s run down the list of everyone that I’ve seen so far been recommended for the role of Peter Parker (links lead to IMDB pages):

Also, with a recent Twitter phenomenon going on requesting that Community actor Donald Glover play Spidey in the new film, UGO came up with a list of minority actors to play the role. They are:

I have to seriously doubt the sanity of the people who recommended these names. For people that report on movies for a living (and some of them comic books), they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. Let’s start with the first list. It looks as if they picked every popular male actor under the age of 25 (in most cases) without considering acting ability or character similarity. And judging by the suggestions some sites gave for the other roles, they might as well just film an episode of Gossip Girl with a Spider-Man theme. Not that I have anything against Gossip Girl, but Nate Archibald and Dan Humphrey are not Peter Parker material.

My biggest complaint of that list is probably Michael Cera. Or Robert Pattinson, but mostly because he seems to be the most likely candidate from what I’ve read (and also, apparently, everyone’s pick to star in the Kurt Cobain biopic. God help the poor soul who okays that). Again, these two were clearly chosen based on popularity alone. While Pattinson does have a little more of an action/adventure background thanks to Twilight and his appearance as Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, he is not a very good actor. I wish I could say the same for Cera, but “not a very good actor” is an understatement. Since Arrested Development, he has consistently played the same character, but in different roles. While George Michael Bluth was an excellent role for the shy, quiet type that Cera is, it boggles my mind why he keeps getting roles of a lot more socially-adept people, scoring girlfriends like Kat Dennings, Martha MacIsaac, Alexis Dziena and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Peter Parker may have been a social outcast for the better part of his life, but that changed as soon as he became Spider-Man, and I don’t think Cera can pull it off.

At the other end of the spectrum, we actually have a couple of decent picks on that list. I think both Anton Yelchin and Joseph-Gordon Levitt could pull it off. Anton Yelchin has made a name for himself over the past couple of years with Star Trek, Charlie Bartlett, and Alpha Dog. While he has also played someone anti-social characters in the past, he has done so with a bit of bravado, like someone who wants to break out of his skin but isn’t sure how, just like Peter Parker. His age also fits him in nicely with the whole high school theme Sony wishes to go for. However, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the oldest casting suggestion I’ve seen, but I don’t think that should stop them. For one, he’s already worked with director Marc Webb in 500 Days of Summer, which was a fantastic movie which showed many aspects of his Gordon-Levitt’s talents. Also, Tobey Maguire was 26 when the original Spider-Man movie was filmed. Granted, that film didn’t spend a lot of time in the high school days of Pete, but he still fit in. I can’t think of a role Gordon-Levitt has portrayed that wasn’t worth watching. He was even the highlight of the less-than-great G.I. Joe movie.

Now for the bottom list. I want to preface this by saying I don’t intend for this part to come out racist. From what I have seen of those ethnic actors is pretty good, for the most part. I’ve loved Donald Glover since I saw his performances with Derrick Comedy. And there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be minority superheroes. I was even upset at Don Cheadle when I read that he hadn’t done comic book movies before Iron Man 2 because of a lack of black superheroes, when clearly he’s never heard of Luke Cage, Black Panther, Blade, Spawn, Green Lantern, or Bishop. But you can’t just change a character with 60 years of history as being Caucasian. It worked for Nick Fury in Iron Man because there was a black Nick Fury in the Ultimate Marvel universe (who was actually based on Samuel L. Jackson). It also, sort of, worked for Kingpin in Daredevil because, really, who else could have played such a large man other than Michael Clarke Duncan?

The reason given for wanting to cast someone of color for the role is to either take a risk, or represent the diversity of New York better. One article on alluded to the casting of Heath Ledger as the Joker and Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man as other “risky” casting decisions. The difference being is that they were excellent casting decisions. Robert Downey Jr. was born to play Tony Stark, and Heath Ledger was an amazing character actor. Rather than going all Affirmative Action for the role of Spider-Man, how about these minority actors go after roles that show the pride of their respective races already? Donald Glover could possibly pull of Patriot if we’re going for Marvel comics. There are less Latino and Asian (at least male) superheroes out there, but they shouldn’t go for a role that’s not for them.

Lastly, the one bit of casting that seems to make sense to everyone (and hopefully to Sony as well) is Evan Rachel Wood as Mary Jane Watson. She’s already been cast as MJ in the Broadway musical rendition of Spider-Man, so what not take that role off the stage and in front of the camera. Her age is perfect for the high school setting, yet she looks old enough if they decided to go for and older actor for Pete (which I seriously hope they do).

In my honest opinion, however, I don’t think any of this should get made. Sony has run the Spider-Man franchise into the ground. Every studio that has tried to adapt a comic book to a movie has for the most part. That’s why Marvel started their own studio to produce films from now on, so they have better quality control. What Marvel needs to do is reacquire the film rights to Spider-Man and start from scratch, and with Disney now paying the bills they may actually have the financial ability to do so. If they do that, not only will we see a better quality film, but this could further expand the universe Marvel is creating with their films, tying them altogether. Who knows, if we get a couple more comics into the mix we could possibly see a Marvel Civil War movie in the future. I’d pay a lot of money to see that.

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