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NEWSARTICLE

BREAKING: Young White Actor Gets Cast in Superhero Franchise's Second Reboot in 13 Years

One of the quieter but nonetheless questionable revelations from the Sony hacks was a 2011 contract between Marvel and Sony that laid out some pretty strict stipulations for the defining characteristics of Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man. These restrictions basically add up to one big takeaway: Peter Parker must be a straight, white boy.

It should come as no surprise then that, according to an official announcement from Marvel earlier today, nineteen-year-old British actor Tom Holland is just the latest white boy to follow in the footsteps of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield by taking on the role of the iconic web-slinger in the franchise's second reboot in only thirteen years.

Holland — who was initially believed to be the second candidate for the role, after Hugo's Asa Butterfield — was selected by Marvel and reboot director Jon Watts (helmer of August's upcoming indie thriller Cop Car, starring Kevin Bacon), following "a series of complex screen tests" among several other eligible white guys.

It isn't that Holland isn't qualified or talented. He was effortlessly moving in his impressive big-screen debut as Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts' courageous son in 2011's tsunami drama The Impossible and has already built up a steady résumé that includes playing Gregory Cromwell in the prestigious miniseries adaptation of Hilary Mantel's royal epic Wolf Hall, a cabin boy in Ron Howard's upcoming seaside disaster flick In the Heart of the Sea, and Billy Elliot in the original West End musical. Holland might very well be excellent in the part, but it's a bit regrettable to watch him apply his growing gifts to a role that Maguire's reputation still hasn't recovered from and which recently wasted three valuable years of fellow Englishman Garfield's young career, all for the sake of two tepidly-received movies.

But beyond Holland's involvement and the total cash-grabbing gratuitousness of this reboot, it's the limited scope by which Holland was chosen that somehow rankles the most. Holland's casting actually can't be counted as yet another disappointing loss for onscreen casting diversity because diversity was never a goal that was even attempted in the first place.

Yes, Marvel is prepping an upcoming Black Panther movie for 2018 with Chadwick Boseman that Ava DuVernay may or may not be shepherding. That movie is (and should be) a big deal and a necessary step in the slow diversification of Marvel's lily-white universe. It is not, however, an improvement in casting diversity since it'd be highly suspect if, say, Bradley Cooper or Channing Tatum played a character called Black Panther. To truly make strides in casting diversity, Marvel would need to begin casting color-blind, which means considering actors of all colors for all of its most cherished starring roles, as opposed to only including them when the project absolutely calls for it or when Samuel L. Jackson has a few spare hours to don that eyepatch and be trotted out for exposition's sake.

Marvel would be well-inclined to open up its mind a little further and get a little more inventive with Spidey anyway. After five movies in the past thirteen years, wouldn't it have been infinitely refreshing to see Marvel take a new approach to Spider-Man beyond the Skinny White Dweeb template, which the comics have already begun to do to positive response with the Black-Hispanic Miles Morales donning the suit? Whether that means scrapping "Peter Parker" altogether or even scrapping Mary Jane for (gasp!) a guy, there are unbounded ways to re-envision Spidey.

It's merely a matter of making an effort.

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