It successfully got Betty White her SNL hosting gig, but can the power of Facebook and Twitter have enough behind them to cast the next Spider-Man? For Community and Mystery Team star Donald Glover, there's certainly no harm in trying. Right now, he's riding a wave of fan-generated Internet buzz that thinks he's the right man to put on the red and blue tights to be the new wall-crawler in Marc Webb's upcoming reboot film.
What started as an innocent editorial on i09 about the rather unexciting list of candidates that were recently named to be in the running for the role. It was a call, not for a mandate to cast a minority, but for a color-blind casting process not limited to the same white teeny-bopper faces. Glover's name came up in the write-up's comments section, and from there, it immediately morphed into a cavalcade of hashtag craziness centered around Twitter and Facebook as it has quickly become one of the hottest trending topics out there.
Drumming-things up further, Glover himself has jumped on this rare opportunity, giving the campaign further exposure through updating tweets. According to Glover:
"Some people are mistaken. I don't want to just be given the role. I want to be able to audition. I truly love Spider-Man."
It's difficult to say if giving into this rabid support would translate to a successful formula for the film, financially. However, regardless of whether or not this amazingly fast-growing campaign will be successful, it's already a huge testament to the power of the new user-generated media.
Glover as Spider-Man would definitely be a refreshing turn, simply on the basis of his experience as a comic actor. Besides having the right build and demeanor, he could carry the Peter Parker/Spider-Man dynamic into a place that may actually be more comic accurate. While Tobey Maguire pulled-off the role magnificently, there was a sense that the "wise-cracking, sarcastic" side of Spider-Man seen in the comics never fully bled through. His Spider-Man always felt like he was simply playing a version of Peter Parker who was trying too hard to be funny and sarcastic underneath the mask. While there was some value to that interpretation, I think Glover could really drive the Spider-Man side of things home more strongly.
(One of the campaign's widely-used mock-ups.)
As far as the aspect of color-blind casting itself, I'm fine with it, as long as it fits within the context of the story. There IS a legitimate argument to be made for wanting to maintain the purist's vision of having Spider-Man be as close to the comics as possible. (Exhibit A: Michael Clarke Duncan as the Kingpin in Daredevil.) Yet, worked-up fanboys being what they are, you do see a growing sense of self-righteousness in the "pro-Glover" campaign aimed against dissenting opinions, which is unfortunate. However, I do think that in regards to Spider-Man specifically, I have to agree with the idea that the crux of what makes Spider-Man special is not something that is intrinsically "white" or "black." And in that regard, I would dismiss the widely-expressed idea that Glover's casting would somehow be this revolutionary moment. -- It just simply would be a good pick.
Considering this reboot film of a hugely-popular franchise will hit only five years after the last film was released, it may need all the help in can in distinguishing itself on many different levels. If Spidey's ethnicity being different will help that cause, then it's certainly worth a try. Depending on this campaign's success (which is still a long shot) and the film's potential success, this grassroots process may foreshadow the way major films could select its cast in the future.
What do you think of Donald Glover as Spider-Man?
Donald Glover stopped by Attack of the Show last week to discuss his other projects, from Community to Mystery Team.