As great as Andrew Garfield was in The Amazing Spider-Man, do you guys remember that major Twitter petition to get Community actor-cum-rapper Childish Gambino Donald Glover in as Peter Parker? Even Stan Lee was down with the idea. Even as the idea of canon superheroes widens to fit more archetypes of girls and women than just your old-school bombshell with a cape — especially now that more female editors at mainstream houses are becoming aware of the strong effects that can have on adolescent female comic readers — the concept of major franchises featuring superheroes of color has been curiously stalled since 2011.
The dad of a young boy adopted from Ethiopia discusses the importance of these charaters on the New York Times' Motherlode blog. Chris Huntington writes that he handed down his childhood superhero comics to his son Dagim in the hopes that he'd be as into them as Huntington was as a kid. Dagim, who had begun pointing out his skin color to his parents at 5, was disinterested (Huntington points out that all the iconic superheroes have two Waspy first names: Bruce Wayne, Donald Blake, Clark Kent, Steve Rogers, Reed Richards, Peter Parker) until Ultimate Spiderman, featuring 13-year-old half-black, half Latino Brooklynite Miles Morales rocking the Spidey suit, came out in August of 2011. Huntington writes:
To see Spider-Man pulling his mask over a tiny brown chin – to see a boy with short curly hair sticking to the ceiling of his bedroom— well, something happened. Dagim has been Spider-Man for two Halloweens in a row. He takes a bath with his Spider-Man and a toy killer whale. He has Spider-Man toothpaste and a Spider-Man toothbrush. If Spider-Man offered medical coverage, I think he would want that, too.
At the time of Miles Morales' inception, many criticized Marvel for making the "PC-based" decision to make Spiderman a boy of color (in response, the Washington Post ran an op-ed with the spot-on headline "Sorry, Peter Parker. The response to the black Spider-Man shows why we need one.")
It takes a pretty fucking cynical human to think that way, especially considering that current Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso is half Mexican — and he replaced 2000 - 2010 ed-in-chief Joe Quesada, a Cuban originally from Queens. Maybe they're particularly aware of kids needing superheroes who look like them.