Spider-Man has become a somewhat controversial character lately, what with the Sony hack revealing Marvel's restrictive guidelines for the character, and The Amazing Spider-Man being cancelled as Peter Parker swung over to the Avengers world instead.
You've really gotta feel sorry for Andrew Garfield. He cared so much about portraying Spider-Man properly: as his favourite comic book character, Spidey meant a lot to Garfield. In interviews, Garfield often offered his own creative ideas for the character, and despite no longer portraying the role it seems that Garfield's latest comments are no exception. So what advice does he have for Marvel, as Tom Holland prepares to make his webslinging debut in Captain America: Civil War?
Make Him Pansexual!
That's right, Andrew Garfield has once again offered his opinion on Spider-Man's sexuality. Speaking to Mic, Garfield expressed his desire for a more progressively characterised Peter Parker, making the point that diversity is as important in fictional worlds as it is in real life.
"I'm excited to get to the point where we don't have to have this conversation, where we can have a pansexual Spider-Man. What are we so scared of? Why are we so, 'No, it has to be this way, a man and a woman.' Why is that even a conversation?"
This comes in light of the recent Sony email leak, which revealed the strict rules for portraying Spider-Man. Just as Miles Morales (black and Hispanic), took up Peter's mantle and became the official Spider-Man in Marvel comics, the email sent to Sony ordered that Peter Parker must be "caucasian and heterosexual".
This comes as a blow to fans of Donald Glover, who has been advocating Miles' entry into the Cinematic Universe for years. Andrew Garfield elaborated on his comments, explaining the appeal of Spider-Man to himself and other fans.
"The beauty about Spider-Man, for me, is that he's covered head to toe. That's why everyone thinks it could be them in that suit. You don't see skin color. You don't see sexual orientation. You don't see how old the person is, gender, the whole thing. I celebrate that. Anyone can be a hero in their own lives."
For Garfield, the problem comes when the mask comes off: until that point, anyone can identify with Spider-Man, and he becomes a vehicle for representation within the Marvel universe. As soon as the mask comes off he's immediately placed in a box, and that box is labelled "caucasian and heterosexual". Which is a shame when we consider that Peter Parker was always supposed to be the underdog.
Back To Basics
Back in the bad old days, Peter Parker represented the geeks and science nerds, kids who faced bullying and ridicule on a daily basis. While its true that this still happens, mainstream society has shifted. Science and maths skills along with computer programming are some of the most lucrative talents you can possess. And with Hollywood firmly geared towards superhero films, scifi flicks, and reboots, there has never been a better time to be a geek.
Andrew Garfield made this point back in 2013, talking about how changing times affect how Spider-Man is perceived.
"He represents the underdog and those marginalized who come up against great prejudice which I, as a middle-class straight, white man, don’t really understand so much. When Stan Lee first wrote and created this character, the outcast was the computer nerd, was the science nerd, was the guy that couldn’t get the girl. Those guys now run the world. So how much of an outcast is that version of Peter Parker anymore?"
The solution, in Garfield's eyes, seems to be to adjust the sexuality part of "caucasian and heterosexual", so that Peter can still represent a marginalised part of society and stay true to his outcast roots. This isn't the first time Andrew Garfield suggested more bisexual Spider-Man: he first made waves by offering the idea that MJ should be male in 2013.
So Could Avengers Spidey Be Bi?
Eh, this doesn't seem likely to happen any time soon. Stan Lee has made his views on a bisexual Spider-Man very clear - "one sex is enough for anybody!" As FlickeringMyth reported, recently Stan Lee made the point that while he welcomes new characters of diverse races and sexualities, he dislikes changing what he sees as the essentials of existing heroes.
"I wouldn't mind, if Peter Parker had originally been black, a Latino, an Indian or anything else, that he stay that way. But we originally made him white. I don't see any reason to change that. I think the world has a place for gay superheroes, certainly. But again, I don't see any reason to change the sexual proclivities of a character once they've already been established."
This is a rather conservative standpoint, but one supported by many fans of the much loved characters who have been around for decades. And as far as getting back to Peter's roots is concerned, Tom Holland's Spider-Man is definitely emulating the original: he's just 15, he's still in high school, and he's very much a kid trying to be a hero.
So it looks like #LGBT comic fans will have a while to wait until they see themselves on the big screen (maybe even 20 years, according to Kevin Feige). But until then, Holland's Spider-Man will be there for all the geeky kids still trying to make it through high school, making sure they know that no matter how awkward you feel you are, anyone can be a hero.