Over the weekend, Spider-Man: Homecoming, the latest installment of the eternal web-slinger franchise, proved that a second reboot of the same exact character within a 5-year period can still be wildly successful.
Homecoming smashed the box office this weekend with a $117 million domestic haul, making it the second largest opening ever for Sony Pictures, behind Spider-Man 3 (aka Emo Spider-Man and the Jazz Cafe Dance). Homecoming also proved, for roughly the 5 billionth time, something that people have been saying for quite some time now—that diverse casts and profit go hand in hand.
With a supporting cast that consists of biracial women, a Latinx actor as well as a Filipinx actor, Spider-Man: Homecoming’s diversity better reflects reality than most other superhero films. According to director Jon Watts, that was the idea from day one. He told the Los Angeles Times that he held open casting calls around the world to find the right talent.
Given that Peter Parker’s school in the movie is in the middle of New York City, Watts said really wanted the film to reflect the diversity of NYC, modeling “Midtown High School” after New York’s specialized high schools for gifted students like Stuyvesant High or Brooklyn Technical. From the Times:
“A big part of it was what I thought the cast should look like,” he explained. “These are what the nerdy kids would be like, these are the cool kids, and because I was pulling from real life it was this very diverse group. And that was my pitch from the very beginning.”
“It’s like a magnet school where all kinds of kids go, they just have to be really smart and test to get in,” said Watts. “We thought if we made it that kind of school, then you were going to have a really interesting mix of people.”
This is great and all, but it also begs the question: if diversity is both as important as Watts claims and as lucrative as the evidence shows, why is this movie still centered around the same old white people we’ve seen a million times? Yes, a diverse supporting cast is important, but they’re still revolving around two white dudes (both of them relatable, one of them maybe a Trump supporter) duking it out.
We’ve already had two white Spider-Men. The current Spider-Man in the Marvel comics is Miles Morales, an Afro-Latinx kid. And the internet made itself pretty clear all the way back in 2010 that they wanted #DonaldGlover4Spiderman. (Donald Glover is in the film as Aaron Davis, who in the comics, is Miles Morales’ uncle, so perhaps we may get to see Miles in a sequel or two, but still.)
I get that progress is slow, and we’re just now figuring out that not only do people of color like seeing themselves in media, but the elusive straight white men demographic enjoys diversity too. But after seven Spider-Man movies in 15 years, and a more diverse source material, maybe it’s time to change things up a bit.