Why are the Spider-Man movies so bad? Maybe it’s because the character has become stale, locked down by arbitrary contractual definitions? A leaked agreement between Marvel and Sony shows us why Peter Parker always looks like Peter Parker.

Only in recent years has the notion that a superhero (or villain) can be something other than a white man (or cyborg) who wants to impress white women—gay heroes have appeared, but only on the margins. Batwoman recently had a gay comic book marriage, as did Northstar, but the onscreen AAA, marquee heroes and villains still generally resemble a Young Republican luncheon.

A look at a licensing agreement leaked through the hack of Sony Pictures suggests the vanilla film status quo is a contractual obligation.

It’s important to remember that Spider-Man, no matter how much we wish it weren’t the case, is a fictional character. There is no “real” Spider-Man, so it’s bogus to say that Spider-Man necessarily has to be anything, other than some kind of spider man, I guess. But a legal licensing agreement between entertainment giants Sony Pictures and Marvel, released during the leak of the former, shows that the beloved superhero absolutely cannot be certain things, including black or gay. These mandatory and forbidden traits are spelled out individually:

Wow, Spider-Man is a fucking dork.

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Probably because Peter Parker is a total dweeb too. The timing here is a little odd, given that the contract went into effect in September of 2011, just one month after a black-latino character named Miles Morales donned the Spider-Man costume in a comic book. After years of internet campaigning, actor/rapper Donald Glover went on to do voice acting for a cartoon version of the Miles Morales Spider-Man, still leaving many fans disappointed that he wouldn’t portray the character in a true Hollywood version. Now we know it’s because Donald Glover as Peter Parker would’ve breached a racial contract.

There appears to be one slight, hopeful loophole here: Spider-Man is only barred from selling and/or distributing illegal drugs, which means he’s free to use them recreationally. Give us a bath salt Spider-Man, Marvel, or let the franchise die.

Photo of illegal Spider-Men via Getty


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