Could the next big-screen Spider-Man be African-American?

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012, 4:31 PM EST

Donald Glover, a young actor and comedian best known for starring in the TV series Community, has begun campaigning via Twitter for a chance to audition for the role of Spider-Man in the upcoming big-screen reboot of the character. While several actors are known to have met with director Marc Webb about the role—including Jamie Bell, Andrew Garfield and Josh Hutcherson—there is one major difference between Glover and everyone else who has been attached to the role: Glover is African-American.

Apparently this all began with an article on in which writer Marc Bernardin asked, "Why does Spidey have to be a white guy?" Glover picked up on this at his Twitter page and added his own hash tag, #donald4spiderman, while also writing about it at his blog. Next thing you know, Glover had literally started an online phenomenon, and now hopes that he actually gets a chance from Sony Pictures to try out for the role.

Glover's crusade has raised an interesting question: Does it matter what color Spider-Man's skin is? Yes, in the comics, the TV cartoons and the movies he's a white guy, but it's never been carved in stone anywhere that he has to be. Peter Parker started out as a lower-middle-class teenager from Queens, New York—a description that could easily fit any young male of Caucasian, African, Asian or Hispanic descent living in that ethnically diverse city.

For that matter, does any superhero need to be a certain color? Where is it written that Batman has to be white? Or Captain America? It was rumored at one point that Will Smith was thinking of playing that role, in fact. Yes, there have been specifically black superheroes created, like Black Panther and Luke Cage, but they were devised with the intention of diversifying both their universes and their audiences.

Glover seems very aware that there are preconceptions out there, writing at Twitter, "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." If Glover (or any actor) truly wants the role, and has the talent to do it, then should the color of his skin make any difference at all?