There were an awful lot of files to sift through when the data from the hack of Sony Pictures was released, and so it continues to make new headlines, with one of the latest being a memo uncovered by Gawker, which says that the Peter Parker version of Spider-man (and almost certainly anyone else in the Spider suit) on screen will never be gay.
The memo very explicitly states that on screen Parker is ‘Caucasian and heterosexual’. Should Sony wish to put someone else in the suit (as Marvel has over the years) that character must not be ‘A homosexual (unless Marvel has portayed that alter ego as a homosexual)’.
The strictures are the ones that Marvel laid down as part of their licensing deal with Sony, which gives the movie studio a decent amount of latitude with what they do with the characters from the franchise, but within certain constraints, including over the character’s sexuality.
While it is somewhat understandable that they would say Peter Parked should be portrayed as straight – after all he’d had decades of heterosexuality in the comic books – the fact that there are only very narrow parameters for when someone in the Spidey suit could be gay seems over the top. It should be noted that while Sony’s Spider-man rights deal happened back in the 1990s and was based on earlier deals with other studios, it appears this particular memo only dates back to a new licensing deal that was signed in 2011 and so isn’t a hangover from any earlier, less tolerant age.
The tone of the memo certainly makes it sound as if whoever wrote it feels associating Spider-man with homosexuality will risk his legacy, especially as it’s put amongst a list that includes drugs, swearing, underage sex and smoking (although it is odd that while he can’t sell drugs, it doesn’t say he can’t take illegal narcotics, so perhaps Peter Parker is a secret heroin addict). It’s also odd that Marvel was so proscriptive at a time when on the page it was opening up some of its most famous characters/costumes to different races and sexualities, while also bringing in new LGBT superheroes.
Spider-man actor Andrew Garfield certainly doesn’t agree with the memo, having previously said, “What if MJ is a dude? Why can’t we discover that Peter is exploring his sexuality? It’s hardly even groundbreaking! So why can’t he be gay? Why can’t he be into boys?”
However it looks like it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. Take a look at the Sony/Marvel memo below and then decide whether they need to get with the program and lighten up over whether a guy in a spandex suit can like boys. [Read more…]