Comic icon Stan Lee – who helped create Spider-Man and his alter-ego Peter Parker – came out this week in defense of leaving his creation as he was created: white and heterosexual. Leaked Sony documents stipulated that Peter must male, a non-smoker, and not be gay (unless Marvel ever portrays him as gay first… then all bets are off).
Newsarama reports that Lee’s defense of Spider-Man’s ethnicity and sexual proclivities are entirely a function of a half-century of established lore. “I wouldn’t mind, if Peter Parker had originally been black, a Latino, an Indian or anything else, that he stay that way,” Lee said. “But we originally made him white. I don’t see any reason to change that.”
Lee goes on to say that rather than retconning characters to fill sexual preference or racial diversity quotas, comic companies should create new characters who fill those shoes. “I think the world has a place for gay superheroes, certainly,” he said. “But again, I don’t see any reason to change the sexual proclivities of a character once they’ve already been established. I have no problem with creating new, homosexual superheroes.”
Lee didn’t mention, but also didn’t need to add that both Marvel and its rival DC have regularly passed the mantle of superheroes from character to character: Green Lantern’s ring has passed to John Stewart. James Rhodes was Iron Man. The current Thor is a woman.
“It has nothing to do with being anti-gay, or anti-black, or anti-Latino, or anything like that,” Lee said. “Latino characters should stay Latino. The Black Panther should certainly not be Swiss. I just see no reason to change that which has already been established when it’s so easy to add new characters. I say create new characters the way you want to. Hell, I’ll do it myself.”
This isn’t so hard to do, right? New heroes get created all the time. Let’s say we have a young, athletic, gay black man on the streets of New York City, who uses free running to get from place to place quickly. His uncle’s killed in a mugging, and so he puts on a mask and starts clearing the streets of crime, using acrobatics and chemically created ropes to get around and stop criminals? S.H.I.E.L.D. discovers him, suits him up with tech, and BANG! Marvel, I give to you: Peter Parkour, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D!