STAN LEE Talks Big Screen SPIDER-MAN Depiction

"Spider-Men #2" cover by Jim Cheung
Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

Once again, Stan Lee comes down on the side of stare decisis—let what has been decided, stand.

To that end, Lee, the co-creator of Peter Parker and Spider-Man, would like to see Peter stay the way he is—because that’s how he was created.

“I wouldn’t mind, if Peter Parker had originally been black, a Latino, an Indian or anything else, that he stay that way,” Lee said. “But we originally made him white. I don’t see any reason to change that.”

Recent leaked Sony documents show that Marvel Comics’ licensing agreement with Sony Pictures for the Spider-Man movies mandate that Spidey should be male, not smoke tobacco nor abuse alcohol, and not be a homosexual “(unless Marvel has portrayed that alter ego as a homosexual).” This caused Gawker to conclude, somehow, that “Spider-Man is a f---ing dork.” That same documents show that Peter Parker, though not necessarily any alternative Spider-Man character, is Caucasian and heterosexual.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Which again, is fine by Lee. Though Stan has gone on record many times as stating that he thinks Spider-Man’s head-to-toe, total cover-up costume is part of the character’s appeal:

“What I like about the costume is that anybody reading Spider-Man in any part of the world can imagine that they themselves are under the costume,” Lee said. “And that’s a good thing.”

Licensing agreements detailing character traits such as the Marvel/Sony one are so common as to approach being a given. They can and do spell out a variety of circumstances: Mickey Mouse’s ears have a specific geometry, and at some point in any Tomb Raider adaptation, Lara Croft is probably going to wear a blue tank top. Marvel’s agreement with Sony roots Peter Parker to New York City, where Stan originally placed the character as well. Lee admits he likes that, but would be happy with some latitude as well.

“It doesn’t have to be New York; it could have been Kokomo,” he said. “I think the point is that having a fictional character come from a real place makes the character seem more real. When I was young, I loved to read Sherlock Holmes. And the fact that he lived on Baker Street in London, a real place, made me enjoy the stories more, with a greater feeling of authenticity.”

And Lee is satisfied that movie Peter Parker is heterosexual, same as comic book Peter Parker.

“I think the world has a place for gay superheroes, certainly,” he said. “But again, I don’t see any reason to change the sexual proclivities of a character once they’ve already been established. I have no problem with creating new, homosexual superheroes.”

In short, Lee feels Peter Parker is well established in the public consciousness after 53 years of being Peter Parker.

“It has nothing to do with being anti-gay, or anti-black, or anti-Latino, or anything like that,” Lee said. “Latino characters should stay Latino. The Black Panther should certainly not be Swiss. I just see no reason to change that which has already been established when it’s so easy to add new characters. I say create new characters the way you want to. Hell, I’ll do it myself.”

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