There is no getting around the uncomfortable fact that once again, in the casting of a lead role for a big blockbuster film, Hollywood has chosen a young white male. Forget how promising this is for the new Spider-Man films to come, or what it will be like to see the actually youthful Tom Holland squaring up to Tony Stark. It just wasn’t enough, because over in the comics, Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen are breaking boundaries and expectations. Why couldn’t Marvel and Sony cast someone to reflect that diversity?
Because in simple legal terms, the contract drawn with Sony in 2011 did not allow it. Peter Parker must always be a white, heterosexual male. Should Marvel have gone with Miles Morales? If it was ever an option for them, absolutely. There is no doubt in my mind that it would be the best possible decision. Here we are with the secnd-best one: a new Spider-Man film, featuring Peter Parker, that won’t be an origin story.
Marvel are intelligent. Sony have made mistakes with the character, that’s why they’ve gone to Marvel. And Marvel don’t seem all that interested in origin stories for characters any more. Not when Chadwick Boseman is going to be in Civil War as Black Panther, before the Black Panther standalone film lands itself. And now Holland is joining him. Whilst Holland’s role is likely little more than a glorified cameo, including him is a huge sign of what’s to come. If rumour is to be believed (and we’ve all been guilty of believing the wrong ones), the proposed Spider-Man solo film will involve the young web-head ‘auditioning’ to be in the Avengers.
Not to forget, also, that Holland is a great choice. He’s got the look of a teenager, as well as actually being one. Sure, Peter Parker has always been ‘young’ in the films, but by The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Garfield looked his years, and despite Tobey Maguire’s blissfully dopey looks he didn’t quite fit the teenage bill. Holland, like those two, is a brilliant actor. Anyone who has seen The Impossible can attest to this, but he also has a small voice part in Locke, in which he is capable of making grown men and women weep. He was reportedly the day one favourite of Marvel for the role, and has gone through many auditions and screen tests to win it.
Holland being cast in no way means we cannot get Miles Morales or a Spider-Woman in the future. In fact, with Avi Arad locked far away from the franchise, that possibility is more likely than ever. For now, we’ve got Holland, and he is an exciting choice for Peter Parker. He will probably go on to be the best screen Peter Parker yet, totally fitting the original character’s qualities in a way that neither Maguire nor Garfield ever did. All of this greatness is not to be sniffed at, it’s to be celebrated.