No, not that Spider-Man: Homecoming casting rumor. The other one! Yes, while everyone has been quick to assume that recently cast Donald Glover is finally getting to play Miles Morales on the big screen in Marvel and Sony's upcoming Spider-Man reboot, another bit of controversy has flown under the radar of most casual fans. And it's all swirling around the recent casting of 14-year-old Michael Barbieri. What has hardcore Spider fans in such an uproar?
Though his character has not been announced, we know that Barbieri has been cast as one of Peter Parker's high school friends, though he is a bit younger than Parker himself, with 19-year-old Tom Holland reprising the role after being introduced in this summer's Captain America: Civil War. Many jumped the gun and began speculating that Barbieri is either playing, or is at least partially based on the fan-favorite Marvel Comics character Ganke. Ganke is Mile Morales' best friend from the Ultimate Spider-Man comics. This led many to grow concerned that Marvel Studios was once again attempting to white wash a character.
The studio came under fire for hiring Tilda Swinton, a white woman, in the role of the Ancient One in Doctor Strange, a role usually portrayed as being an Asian man in the comics. Now, some believe Spider-Man: Homecoming is heading down a similar route, even though they have gone out of their way to hire an interesting, wide variety of actors to serve as a backdrop for Holland's performance. The controversy over Ganke's possible casting finally caught up with director Jon Watt. Ganke is portrayed as a Korean American in the pages of the comic. But not to worry, Watt assures. Barbieri is not playing Ganke. In a series of Tweets, the filmmaker had this to say.
"What The--?! Michael Barbieri was never playing Ganke... no idea how that rumor started... Ok, back to work!!! What The--?! Michael Barbieri was never playing "a version of or a character based on/similar to" Ganke... Ok, back to work for reals now!!!"
So who is Michael Barbieri playing then? Well, it appears Spider-Man: Homecoming is set to introduce a few new high school characters that have never been seen in the comics. Marvel Studios has had no reservations in the past in introducing characters created solely for the MCU, and there's no reason for them to stop now. Tony Revolori is also believed to be playing a new character. While his role hasn't been disclosed, he's been described as a new kind of bully, and Parker's schoolyard nemesis. He's definitely not playing Flash Thompson, and if he were, the actor is not white, being of Guatemalan descent.
Some speculate that Spider-man: Homecoming wants a new slate of high school characters for Peter Parker, so that it feels they are starting fresh. Also recently cast is the non-white pop star Zendaya Coleman, a high schooler said to be one of the female leads, though she is not playing the 'love interest'. As of yet, there has been no news of a Mary Jane Watson or Gwen Stacy being cast at this time. What may be most interesting about director Jon Watts comments is that he does not refute or deny the fact that Donald Glover is playing Miles Morales. We're sure more casting news will be announced soon, as shooting begins later this summer for a 2017 release date.
What The--?! Michael Barbieri was never playing Ganke... no idea how that rumor started... Ok, back to work!!!— Jon Watts (@jnwtts) June 16, 2016
What The--?! Michael Barbieri was never playing "a version of or a character based on/similar to" Ganke... Ok, back to work for reals now!!!— Jon Watts (@jnwtts) June 16, 2016