You’re forgiven if you’ve glanced at a superhero comic or watched a superhero movie, what with their skintight spandex and bulges and codpieces and fondness for showing off their impeccably chiseled bodies, and thinking, isn’t this all a little bit gay? Andrew Garfield, the latest actor to suit up as Spidey in The Amazing Spider-Man, agrees.
Garfield, who is promoting The Amazing Spider-Man 2, recently relayed a conversation he had with the film’s producer, Matt Tolmach, about exploring the possibility that Peter Parker, the teen who learns that with great power comes great responsibility upon becoming Spider-Man, might explore the possibility that he’s gay. It’d be easy enough, he ventured, too. Just change Spidey’s love interest Mary Jane to, simply, MJ.
“I was kind of joking, but kind of not joking about MJ,” Garfield told Entertainment Weekly. “And I was like, ‘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?”
Garfield is so juiced about the idea that he’s already cast the male MJ himself. “I’ve been obsessed with Michael B. Jordan since The Wire,” he said. “He’s so charismatic and talented. It’d be even better—we’d have interracial bisexuality!”
And how obsessed is Garfield with this idea, hypothetical as it may be? When EW brought up the conversation with Garfield to Amazing Spider-Man director Marc Webb, the director cut them off. “Michael B. Jordan, I know.” So Garfield’s approached him about the possibility? “Uh, are you kidding?”
The thought of such a progressive twist in such a high-profile Hollywood blockbuster is no doubt exciting to many people and blasphemous to many others. And while the idea is 99.99 percent likely to end up just a series of “what ifs,” it’s not completely outside the realm of possibility (even if it’s pretty much out on the very edge of that realm). Shailene Woodley had been cast as Mary Jane in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but her role has been cut from the film. Two more sequels have already been ordered, leaving Sony just enough time to completely rewrite Peter Parker’s love story.
After all, baby steps have already been made towards the franchise’s diehards’ acceptance of a gay Spidey. In 2011, Marvel’s Ultimate Fallout series revealed who had taken over for Peter Parker as the man behind Spidey’s mask (a version of Parker was killed in issue No. 160 of Ultimate Spider-Man, which is set in an alternate universe rather than in the original Marvel narrative). The red-and-black mask lifted to unveil Miles Morales, a half-black, half-Hispanic teen who was also possibly gay. Artist Sarah Pichelli, who designed the character, said at the time, “Maybe sooner or later a black or gay—or both—hero will be something absolutely normal,” which some took as a hint that Miles might at some point come out of the closet—conjecture that so far hasn’t come to pass.
But the truth is gay superheroes have become something at least somewhat normal, just deeper in the comic world than fair-weather followers tread to. Last summer, DC Comics revealed that Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, was gay. (Not the Green Lantern portrayed by Ryan Reynolds in the 2011 film ... sorry if your mind raced there.) DC’s Batwoman character was relaunched in 2006 as a crime-fighting lesbian. And Marvel’s Astonishing X-Men #51 even featured a same-sex marriage on its cover, between mutant Northstar and his partner Kyle.
The fact remains, however, the gay men in tights (at least of the superhero variety) have yet to make their way onto the big screen. But if Garfield thinks that Spider-Man could sling some web and swing that way, maybe that moment isn’t too far off.