Tag Archives: Spider-Man

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.

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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

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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.

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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  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

Captain Marvel Pushed Back Again, Company Apologist On Verge of Giving Up

In the beginning, I could not be more excited for Marvel Studios’ upcoming slate of comic book movie offerings. While I noted [and mourned] Black Panther’s absence from their list of Phase 2 films in 2012 I was forced to eat my words a couple of years later, when they announced solo films for both him and Captain Marvel [a female hero!] at a special event.

bpcm

Yes, as you can see from the mock-ups they released on the right both were slated to drop on November 2017 and July 2018 respectively, with a good number of years ahead for casting, finding directors, pre-production, extensive post-production for VFX, the whole deal. Like I mentioned, I was ecstatic for what was to come and by no means worried that they were rushing things.

Sure, both films were being released after Captain America: Civil WarDoctor StrangeGuardians of the Galaxy 2, and Thor Ragnarok, three sequels, two of which are the third for their respective franchises, but I could wait! Things were changing for ol’ Marvel Studios, and for the better.

And then the announcement early this year that Sony was willing to cut a deal with Marvel, allowing the latter to use Spider-Man in their cinematic universe! This news was met by much of the internet with a long drawn out finally. Fans had been waiting to see the webswinger alongside other such heroes as Iron Man and Thor and it was all coming to pass! The comic book movie gods smile down upon us!

Except that that wasn’t the announcement in its entirety. Over on their website Marvel revealed that Peter Parker’s induction into their lineup would result in schedule conflicts, namely [emphasis added]:

Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok” will hit theaters November 3, 2017. The following year, Marvel’s “Black Panther” will make its way to theaters on July 6, 2018, and Marvel’s “Captain Marvel” on November 2, 2018. Finally, Marvel’s “Inhumans” will now debut in theaters July 12, 2019.

Over at tumblr bookerdewitch summed it up more perfectly than I ever could:

Capture Continue reading

Ms. Marvel, #10: A Comic Book Review

msmarvel10Kris Anka on covers, I heartily approve. I have been a fan of that dude for years, and his presence on this title is not the only pleasant surprise for the issue. [Unpleasantly, this review is late as #10 dropped December 17th, but some of us have to take a vacation sometime]

To put things super bluntly, everything is coming to a head. In this case “head” means “epic showdown”, and I never use the word “epic” lightly, even when it’s tucked away in the definition of another word. Compared to the last issue, where I had to break up what happened into several different levels, what takes place here is relatively straightforward-

As I mentioned last time, Issue #8 kicked off a four-part arc titled “Generation Why”, and the reason for that is finally revealed. Young people have been allowing The Inventor to use them as living batteries for his machines because they’ve been convinced they’re slackers who are just coasting through life, something that Gordon actually touched on several years ago when he wrote “In Defense of This Generation”. To sum up his almost-two-thousand-word post, we get the short end of the stick, but it’s not like we’re to blame for the world we live in. Let’s just say that Kamala agrees with my co-writer exactly:

“We’re not the ones who messed up the economy or the planet. Maybe they do think of us as parasites, but they’re not the ones who are gonna have to live with this mess–“

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

DC Is Terrible, But They’re Not Homophobes

Look, let’s be clear, I’m not a fan of DC. To be a little more specific, I am not a fan of DC’s business practices and editorial decisions. All of that being said, yesterday the internet perpetuated one of my least favourite of its trends: snap judgement from journalists fishing for hits.

Late Wednesday night W. Haden Blackman and J.H. Williams III, the writer and artist of Batwoman, respectively, posted  a message on the former’s blog that they would be leaving the title. Here’s the section of that post that has received the most attention [emphasis added]:

Unfortunately, in recent months, DC has asked us to alter or completely discard many long-standing storylines in ways that we feel compromise the character and the series. We were told to ditch plans for Killer Croc’s origins; forced to drastically alter the original ending of our current arc, which would have defined Batwoman’s heroic future in bold new ways; and, most crushingly, prohibited from ever showing Kate and Maggie actually getting married. All of these editorial decisions came at the last minute, and always after a year or more of planning and plotting on our end.

From what I can tell, the news was first broken by The Outhouse, and was soon followed by all the other major comic book news outlets. ComicsAlliance and Newsarama both likewise delivered the news straight, but elsewhere this wasn’t the case. Continue reading