Did Marvel Whitewash Yet Another Asian-American Movie Character?

By Sameer Rao Jun 08, 2016

The folks behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) apparently ignored #WhitewashedOUT and all the outrage over Hollywood’s (and their own) erasure of Asian and Asian-American characters. Reports suggest they did it again when they cast teenage actor Michael Barbieri in the upcoming Spider-Man movie. 

According to Deadline and ComicBook.com, Barbieri will portray a character based on Ganke Lee—Miles Morales/Spider-Man’s Asian-American friend in the comic books. As expected, many people critcized the choice:


"Spider-Man: Homecoming" first provoked controversy when White actor Tom Holland was cast as the titular hero last year, despite the fact that Spider-Man is a Black Latino teen in the current comic. Various media outlets, including Colorlines, reported on Zendaya‘s casting in this otherwise-Whitewashed film.

The Guardian noted that this criticism echoed similar accusations of Whitewashing leveled against David Franzoni ("Amistad," "Gladiator"). Franzoni wrote a film about historic Persian poet Rumi that will begin filming in 2017. Franzoni told The Guardian that he wants to cast Leonardo DiCaprio as Rumi and Robert Downey, Jr. as Shams of Tabrizi, Rumi’s spiritual instructor.

(H/t Bustle, USA Today)

*Note: post has been updated to reflect that Genke Lee is Miles Morales’ friend in the comics, not Peter Parker’s. Tom Holland portrays the Peter Parker version of Spider-Man in "Spider-Man: Homecoming."