Tag Archives: Miles Morales

For Your Consideration: Ned Leeds/Ganke in the Spider-Man: Homecoming Trailer

Welcome to another installment of “For Your Consideration”, every one of which thus far has covered comic book and video game movies [and this week’s is no exception]. The point of this particular feature was to present just the facts, allowing readers to come to their own conclusions, as well as to cobble together a short post due to a lack of time to devote to a longer piece. The latter is less applicable this time around as this required a lot of research and was not at all published in a timely manner.

Thursday night marked the premiere of the first ever trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, as well as the international trailer online. What caught my eye watching it, and what I’m going to detailing below, is the appearance of Ned Leeds, played by actor Jacob Batalon. Below I’ve compiled a timeline that tracks the history of that character, another character named Ganke from the comics, as well as the film franchise’s track record with diversity.


asm18November 1964Ned Leeds debuts in Amazing Spider-Man [Vol. 1] #18. His character is a field reporter at the Daily Bugle, where he meets Peter Parker and Betty Brant, the titular hero’s ex-girlfriend who he will one day marry. In later years Leeds went on to become the villain Hobgoblin for a spell, and was later killed [though you know what they say about death in comic books].

Ned Leeds is, as so many comic book characters at the time, a White man with brown hair and blue eyes.

gankelee

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man  (Vol. 2). Written by Brian Michael Bendis, illustrated by Sara Pichelli.

November 2011: Ganke Lee debuts in Ultimate  Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man [Vol. 2] #2. His character is the best friend of Miles Morales, a half-Black/half-Latino teenager and the new hero headlining the title.

As pictured on the left, Ganke is of Korean descent and a larger kid. The character is also shown to be a fan of LEGO blocks, or whatever non-copyright-infringing alternative can be found in the Marvel universe.

sweetfancymoses

 

 

 


April 30th, 2014
:
 IndieWire former chief creative officer for Marvel entertainment and founder of Marvel Studios Avi Arad is interviewed by Indiewire. When asked if “Spider-Man in the cinematic realm [would] always be Peter Parker” [in reference to Morales ever taking the role] he responded: “Absolutely.” I further covered his comments a week later.

February 9th, 2015: After a two failed Spider-Man films starring Andrew Garfield it’s announced that Sony Pictures would be partnering with Marvel Studios to produce a new film for the character that takes place within the latter’s cinematic universe. President of Sony Entertainment Motion Picture Group Doug Belgrad cements which iteration of the superhero will be webslinging across the silver screen, saying [emphasis added]:

“This new level of collaboration is the perfect way to take Peter Parker’s story into the future.”

barbieriJune 6th, 2016: It’s revealed that fourteen-year-old actor Michael Barbieri has been cast in the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming.
ComicBook.com reveals that, according to its sources, Barbieri’s character will be new, and “based off the Ultimate Spider-Man character Ganke.”

As seen on the left, Barbieri is currently not particularly heavyset, and is also not Korean or of Asian descent at all. It’s also worth noting that Peter Parker and Ganke Lee do not currently have any kind of relationship within the Marvel universe as the latter is a stalwart part of Miles Morales’ supporting cast.

June 15th, 2016Likely in response to an article making the rounds that directly states “Marvel Casts Michael Barbieri as Ganke in ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming'” director Jon Watts goes on record to deny claims of whitewashing in a couple of tweets:

July 25th, 2016: At Marvel Studio’s film panel at Comic-Con International: San Diego this year three cast members are confirmed for Spider-Man: Homecoming. One of the three is Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds. The actor describes the role he’s playing as being Peter Parker’s “best buddy.”


EthniCelebs
, while likely not the most reliable of sources, notes that Batalon was born in Hawaii and lists his ethnicity as “Filipino, possibly other”.

November 15th, 2016: In addition to the Comic-Con announcement made several months earlier, Batalon reveals on KHON 2 News, a Hawaiian program, that he will be playing Ned Leeds in Spider-Man: Homecoming. He reiterates that Leeds is “Peter Parker’s best friend in the film.”

December 8th, 2016: As mentioned,  the first Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer premieres on Jimmy Kimmel Live!; the international trailer likewise makes its way onto YouTube.

December 8th, 2016: A number of top comments in a thread dedicated to the newly released trailer on /r/comicbooks focus on Leeds’ similarities to Ganke.

basicallyganke

“So Ned Leeds is basically Ganke?”

December 9th, 2016: Comic Book Resources publishes an article titled “No, That’s Not Ganke In The Spider-man: Homecoming Trailer”. The second paragraph reads:

“Admittedly it’s a very easy mistake to make. As we see in the trailer, Batalon plays Spider-Man’s best friend and one of the only people to learn his Spider-secret. Ganke Lee, a supporting character introduced in 2011’s “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” #2, is also the best friend of a Spider-Man and also knows his secret identity. And yeah, both Batalon and Ganke are of Asian descent (Batalon is Filipino American and Ganke is Korean American). To be honest, maybe Batalon should be playing Ganke. But he’s not — he’s playing Ned Leeds.”

The final line hammers that point home, with columnist Brett White writing, “So right now, Spidey’s best friend looks and sounds a lot like Ganke — but he’s not Ganke. He’s Ned Leeds.”

December 9th, 2016: Inverse, the website responsible for the article Watts was likely responding to back in June, publishes another titled “‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ Appears to Have Jacked a Miles Story”. Their coverage includes tweets from comic book fans who find the inclusion of Ned Leeds as he appears particularly damning, with one noting:

The article also highlights a moment within the trailer, drawing comparison between it and a moment in the comic books.

whatnothing

whatnothing

Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man (Vol. 1). Written by Brian Michael Bendis, illustrated by David Marquez.


To summarize, Jacob Batalon will be appearing in Spider-Man: Homecoming as Ned Leeds, Peter Parker’s best friend. He bears a very heavy [no pun intended] resemblance to Ganke Lee, Miles Morales’ best friend in the comics. While the appearance of an Asian character in a major role certainly backs up Watts’ desire for the Queens depicted to reflect being “one of—if not the—most diverse places in the world” what may need to be addressed, by Watts or whoever else, are some fans’ concerns about poaching a POC character from another POC character’s story.

Miles Morales ever making an appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has yet to be confirmed, but the question many have been asking since Thursday’s trailer dropped was if Ganke showing up is even possible now that this Ned Leeds exists onscreen.

How Hollywood is Foretelling the Future While Still Falling on the Wrong Side of History

No one wants to be “on the wrong side of history”.

No one wants to be wrong, period, and even those of us who raise their hackles at being described as “progressive” fear that those words, when leveled against them, might come true. To hear that phrase is to be threatened, told that you’re a dinosaur; except without any of the perks like monstrous size and claws and teeth, more the being pushed out by newer lifeforms and soon to be extinct. The message is, essentially, to keep up or be left behind.

To be asked whether you want to be “on the wrong side of history” is only hypothetical as far as what your choice will be. That the world will actually be changing is not the question; it’s being stated as a direct fact.

Almost two years ago to the day I wrote about film producer Avi Arad, who has been responsible for the past five [an absurd amount even for me, who considers him my favourite superhero] Spider-Man films. In particular I called attention to his response regarding whether the White Peter Parker would always be the one donning the webbed tights [“Absolutely”] and his response to whether or not the lack of diversity in comic book movies an issue [emphasis mine]:

“But I think we are finally becoming more of one world, and you’re going to see more and more diversity in the selection of characters. [. . .] It’s all going to change. I think sometimes we consciously look at it. We would love to have a superhero, we would love Marvel to create a superhero — We can create villains, but we’d love to have a Chinese superhero with something that is really interesting and how they got here, and what is their issue, and so on. But it’s coming. And it’s inevitable. It’s really inevitable. But it didn’t come naturally to comics in the days that no one was aware that there were actually other countries and other people.

aviaradkenjenningsI prefaced that article with a short bit of fiction in which Arad awakens in a cold sweat, realizing that the world he had once foretold had finally come to pass. By saying that these changes are “inevitable” he acknowledges that they are the impending future. By stating in direct terms that as long as he’s involved Spider-Man will never be Miles Morales, an Afro-Latino teen who has carried the title for years now, he both outlines the two camps [those who will, and won’t, be on the wrong side of history] and which side he will find himself in. Continue reading

The Character Assassination of Sam Wilson by the Publisher Marvel Comics

Captain America Is Old, Long Live Captain America

In July of 2014 it was announced on The Colbert Report that a momentous event would be occurring in the Marvel universe. The blonde, blue-eyed Steve Rogers would be stepping down as Captain America due to rapidly aging, with the mantle passing on to his partner [not sidekick] Sam Wilson aka The Falcon. As is typical for the industry the cover for Captain America #25, in which the event takes place, promised some level of mystery with a white silhouette asking readers to guess who it would be.

Captain America #25 (Vol. 7). Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Carlos Pacheco.

As Sam himself states in the splash page on the right [I realize that the text is far too small for you to read]:

“You guys all knew it was me, didn’t you?

There’s literally no drama left in this reveal.”

The words are particularly tongue in cheek, with the writer himself acknowledging that even without the announcement on national TV it had always been fairly obvious who would be the next character to bear the shield. Captain America and The Falcon had been compatriots since the late 60s [even sharing a title], so there were few more deserving individuals than Samuel “Snap” Wilson.

Now I was, and still am, all about this. To have as high profile a role as Captain America, a title that represents an entire nation, be given to a Black man is enormous. I’d also always been a fan of Sam as The Falcon. I added the title to my pull-list immediately.

I’ll Justify the Title, But First, This Week’s Events and a Rough Thesis

Now just this past Tuesday, roughly a year and a half after the original announcement, Marvel released the news that Steve Rogers would be returning as the ol’ Shield-Slinger.

This isn’t to say that the book on the left, Captain America: Steve Rogers, would be replacing the currently running Captain America: Sam Wilson. Instead the publisher’s plan is to release both side by side. They will also be penned by the same writer, Nick Spencer, a move which there has been plenty of precedent for [Jonathan Hickman on both Avengers and New Avengers, Brian Michael Bendis on All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, etc.]. Oftentimes both titles will act as separate halves of a larger story, though that hasn’t been confirmed in this case.

This announcement was met with a similar lack of surprise across the internet, largely because Captain America: Steve Rogers coincides with the release of the summer blockbuster Captain America: Civil War. A number of changes have been made to the comic books to have them fall more in line with what happens up on the big screen, and slapping an “A” back on the forehead of the face most of the world knows and loves is generally seen as a solid business move.

Now I am fully aware of how incendiary the title of this blog post is, and hope to justify it by explaining how the existence of two Captain Americas is not similar to the same being true of other heroes, with the reason for that largely being founded in the character’s recent publication history. It’s in the exploration of that latter point that I truly hope to rationalize the words “character assassination.”

As with every article I write, I’ve done my best to make this accessible to both those who do and do not regularly enjoy comic books. If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to drop me a line in the comments far below. Continue reading

Avi Arad: Diverse Futures, Passed [Opportunities]

It happened in an instant.

One moment film producer Avi Arad was sleeping peacefully in his bed, the second a chilling sensation ran the course of his entire body, forcing his eyes open. He could feel it in his gut, the dreadful realization that this was it. There was no going back to the way things were before.

Standing up, he wearily made his way over to the bedroom window. He looked out upon a world that continued to doze, blissfully unaware. They had no idea what had just taken place, how everything had changed.

Inwardly he took some small solace in the fact that he had expected this. Those who can foresee what is to come, even if powerless to stop it, can revel in making the choices that will one day become unavailable to them.

Everything was different now, and he knew that. This was a brand new world, one he had no part in creating.

Continue reading

Fame Day: Alex Alonso

alonsoGordon’s absence has forced me to dedicate yet another Fame Day to a man in the comic book industry [a post on a woman is in the near future] to join the ranks of Anka, McDuffie, and Fraction.

Introducing the Editor in Chief of Marvel Comics, Axel Alonso. Interviewed by FOX News Latino [which I didn’t even know was a thing], he was asked the question: “Is that a new initiative at Marvel Comics is doing? We’re going with the Latinos now?”

This question was in response to a few “new” characters appearing in the publisher’s titles, with Miss America being one of them. First featured in Marvel Mystery Comics #49 in November 1943, Miss America was originally another embodiment of the United States in World War II, a star-spangled powerhouse punching out Nazis. Now, in 2013, Miss America is the moniker for America Chavez, a Latina teenager and new member of the Young Avengers [one of Marvel’s bestselling new titles]. Also mentioned was the new Blatino Ultimate Spider-Man, who has already been covered on this site.

From left to right: Miss America Chavez, Miles Morales [Ultimate Spider-Man]

From left to right: Miss America Chavez, Miles Morales [Ultimate Spider-Man]

Alonso, a Mexican-American himself, replied:

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t motivated, on a personal level, to have Hispanic characters represented in comic books, but this isn’t some PC initiative, [this is] capitalism.”

He acknowledged that a growing range of people read comics, and that as a publishing company it is their “responsibility to make them feel included.” Going back to his comment about “capitalism,” the fact of the matter is that as a company it’s in their best interest to create a product that appeals to the fastest growing demographic in America.

While Alonso agrees that comic books have not always treated minorities with due respect, he also acknowledges that stereotypes are more complex then they might first appear. He took part in helping to create Mexican heroes the Zapata Brothers, who were based on his cousins in Mexico. The two wear full luchador regalia, and while this may be perceived by some as racist, Alonso would argue otherwise. “Is that a little stereotypical?” he says, “Yeah,  but it’s also fun and a part of our culture.” Growing up watching these wrestling matches growing up they struck him as being an important part of his culture.

When asked why Latino characters haven’t achieved the same status and notoriety of heroes like Batman and Wolverine, his response was “Why haven’t they become that yet?” His opinion is that, with America’s ever-shifting cultural landscape, it’s an inevitability. You can’t force an audience, or simply make a character big, it just evolves and happens naturally.

Unfortunately, fellow member of “The Big 2” DC declined to be interviewed for this piece. While Marvel has its fair share of seemingly racist characters [Mexican villain/anti-hero Armadillo] DC has a large mark of shame in Extraño, a “gay Latino magician who had HIV and referred to himself as ‘Auntie.’” That being said, it’s a shame that they didn’t offer a means of looking forward through heroes such as Blue Beetle [Jamie Reyes] and Vibe [Paco Ramone] who has his own new title.

Alonso is a man who realizes that comic books are a business, and one that needs to make money and that has an impact on its readers. His joy that Miles Morales exists as a character is in “knowing that there would be a child out there who would see Spider-Man peel back that mask to see a different face and a face that resembled their own.” He understands that, and that’s worth giving him credit for.

Everyone’s Talking About Miles Morales

It doesn’t matter if comics are something you keep up with or not, you’ve probably heard the news: Spider-Man is black. Yes, you’re reading it here for possibly the third or fourth time, but it’s true. Our resident wall-crawler is now a person of colour, and people are not happy.

In case you haven’t heard anything at all about this change, allow me to restate what’s been said a thousand times already. In the Ultimate Marvel universe Peter Parker has died, and replacing him is a half black, half Latino teenager by the name of Miles Morales.

Ever since this news was announced by USA Today five days ago the internet has erupted in outrage. Many see Marvel’s decision as the purest example of forced diversity, that in the politically correct culture we live in this is just one more addition to a long line of changes made to make us more accepting.

What’s really riling people up, though, is the media. Erik Hayden’s article for The Atlantic Wire entitled “The Backlash to the Backlash of a Multiracial Spider-Man” informs us that the way the news is being portrayed is strongly affecting how we react, whether it be Glen Beck tying this change to something Michelle Obama said or Scott Mendelson of the Huffington Post pointing out that “[. . .] Parker Had To Die To Make It Happen.” As media consumers people are taking on opinions and making them their own.

The most upsetting article so far was one I found on The Daily Mail website entitled “Marvel Comics reveals the new Spider Man is black – and he could be gay in the future.” My problem with the article was not that they misspelled his name and omitted the dash, it was the gross assumption implied by the title, and the fact that said title would both pull in and incite readers.

The title is based on a quote [found in the article] by Sara Pichelli, an artist who created the new Spider-Man’s look. It goes as follows: “Maybe sooner or later a black or gay – or both – hero will be considered something absolutely normal.” Nowhere does she mention that Miles Morales might be gay. Nowhere in that statement does she even hint at it. All Pichelli did was muse that perhaps one day our comic book heroes will have a little more diversity.

My ire at faulty journalism aside, allow me to lay down a few facts that may be able to extinguish any flames of frustration over this change in character. Miles Morales is the new Spider-Man in the Ultimate universe. Peter Parker died in the Ultimate universe. It’s not regular Marvel continuity and as far as anyone is concerned in the regular comics Pete’s still donning those red and blue webbed tights and trash-talking the petty thugs of New York City.

If you can’t cope with the very fact that Marvel had the audacity to kill Peter Parker in the first place check out the Wikipedia page on Ultimatum. People die in the Ultimate universe all the time, and it’s almost always permanent. If key members of the X-Men can bite the bullet then really anyone’s fair game.

On the off chance that you’re still upset tune in to MGK [Mightygodking] and what he has to say about the topic. He’s got a point.