If you have Internet, you’re probably aware that back in 2010, actor/musician Donald Glover was the focus of a campaign to star in Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man reboot. The campaign went on to become more than just “get me into this movie” hype, many pushing the filmmakers to take the opportunity to diversify. That said, the campaign was also met with an amount of racially charged backlash — many people were not on board with a black Spider-Man.
Columbia Pictures ultimately went with Andrew Garfield, a white actor, to play the role of the Marvel superhero. However, news is that Community star Glover won’t be entirely absent from the final production. MTV reports that there will be a Donald Glover Easter egg hidden among the set decoration of Peter Parker’s bedroom during the film. The exact piece is being kept a secret, from the public, but Glover himself has been made well aware, and expresses his appreciation of the homage to MTV.
“I was pretty aware of the Easter egg that Marc Webb put in there, because he asked me, when they were filming it, if it was okay to do it … There’s some stuff in Spider-Man’s bedroom that’s reflective of his musical or television tastes. I’m not allowed to talk about it … but I think it’s pretty dope.”
Glover is certainly accepting this gesture graciously, and the move was made purely for positive reasons — but this might drum up some mixed feelings for others. On the surface, it seems like a well-meaning appreciation of Glover’s talent. But if you think about it, it seems kind of like an insult. If Webb is willing to express fondness for the performer, why wasn’t he willing to cast him as Spider-Man? Is the studio just progressive enough to litter its set with references to a black rising star, but not quite progressive enough to cast a black actor as a classic superhero?
Those opposed to the casting of Glover cite the origin of the Spider-Man character as their rationale — in the comics, he has always been illustrated as white. Yet when Warner Bros cast white actor Ryan Reynolds to play a comic book hero that’s been previously portrayed as black in 2011’s Green Lantern (while Hal Jordan was a white character, WB originally cast Common as Green Lantern John Stewart in the ill-fated Justice League movie — an interesting move), there wasn’t nearly this degree of antagonism, if any. There was little response from the studio regarding Glover’s interest in the character or fans clamoring for the blockbuster to think outside the box, making the after-the-fact nod sweet, but equally strange.
The world could really use Glover as a Spider-Man right now — not as a racial statement, but because he would do awesome things with the character. Luckily, you still have weekly installments of Troy Barnes: a superhero in his own right.