Peyton Thomas, a Toronto-based novelist/journalist, was upset that Marvel didn’t seriously consider Andrew Garfield’s proposal to depict Peter Parker as bisexual in the recent Spiderman movies. When their initial post on the subject got over 60,000 notes on Tumblr, they decided to write their own, feature-length script, and the internet is going crazy over it.
As far as the internet is concerned, the Bi Spiderman Drama is old news. Andrew Garfield, who portrayed the famous web-slinger in The Amazing Spiderman and The Amazing Spiderman 2, was vocal about his enthusiasm for a bisexual Spiderman. Garfield wanted to have actor Michael B. Jordan (then of The Wire fame) play Parker’s love interest MJ, and discussed the possibility with the movies’ producer and the director. But the studios were not as enthusiastic. In 2015, WikiLeaks released a set of emails between Sony Pictures Entertainment and Marvel Entertainment, reporting that the two parties had signed a 2011 licensing agreement stating that Peter Parker had to be heterosexual and white in all his film appearances.
Thomas learned about it when reviewing Andrew Garfield’s body of work after seeing him in a production of Angels in America over the summer. And while they were initially frustrated by Marvel’s shortsightedness, they realized they had everything they needed to make a screenplay happen – “a word processor, a beating heart, and too much time,” as they put it on their blog post. So, over the course of a week, they wrote a feature-length Spiderman film to make Garfield’s dream come true, complete with a Spotify playlist you can tune into during crucial scenes to get the full effect.
The 96-page script has bomb threats, car chases, and a suitably-spooky villain. But it’s the human story at the core that gives it its life – Peter Parker resolving his guilt over the death of his girlfriend Gwen Stacey while slowly falling for study buddy MJ. Thomas wanted to do something a little different with the script, to write “a script where grief is the antagonist instead of a supervillain.” And their gamble paid off – the Amazing Spiderman 3 is, quite simply, the best superhero movie you won’t watch this year.
While Thomas isn’t a superhero enthusiast, they’re drawn to the potential in Spiderman’s story, especially Peter Parker’s journey from underdog to hero. But, as Thomas pointed out, Parker’s status as an underdog is questionable today. “When Spiderman was invented, he was a scrawny nerd…those people now rule the world,” they said, in an interview with Providr. “So if you’re creating an outsider and an underdog, what does that look like today?”
Part of Thomas’ answer was making Spiderman bisexual. LGBT characters are rare in big-budget cinema, and bi characters are even rarer. When asked about the state of onscreen LGBT representation today, Thomas said, “The bar is so low right now, it’s on the ground.” However, they later added that the baby steps that studios have taken are encouraging, like including nods to LGBT characters in the live-action Beauty and the Beast and the most recent Power Rangers movie. “As much as it pains me to say it…it says a lot that studios are willing to make that explicit.”
And while Thomas doesn’t believe that their script is commercially viable, they believe that heroic stories with social awareness and heart are gaining traction in the mainstream. “I’d like to think things are getting better,” they say, citing recent blockbusters like The Force Awakens and Wonder Woman that focus on the human heart of the story as much as the pyrotechnics. With time, they hope to see more big blockbusters that are “grounded in reality and rendering these real experiences honestly and empathetically.” If that means more scripts like their take on The Amazing Spiderman 3, the movement can’t come soon enough.
(To read Thomas’ script, you can head over to the-niche.blog. If you’re more interested in their original fiction, they recently accepted an offer of literary representation, and they’re hard at work on their first novel, a gay love story for young adults. Check out their twitter handle, @silkspectres, for updates on the novel!)
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