We just ran down the five bland white guys that are, reportedly, in the running to play Peter Parker in Sony's Spider-Man reboot. Yawn. In this day and age, why does Spidey have to be a white guy?
Yes, I know: "Because that's how Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created him." There is no worse argument for anything than, "because that's the way it's always been." Lee and Ditko created a wonderfully strong character, one full of complexity and depth, who happens to be white. In no way is Peter Parker defined by his whiteness in the same way that too many black characters are defined by their blackness. He's defined by the people he cares for, by his career, by his identity as a New Yorker (incidentally, one of the most diverse cities in the world) — as too many good people died to prove, a man is defined by his choices, not by the color of his skin.
So why couldn't Peter Parker be played by a black or a Hispanic actor? How does that invalidate who Peter Parker is? I'm not saying that the producers need to force the issue; that they need to cast a minority just for the sake of it — but in the face of such underwhelming options like Billy Elliot and the kid who played young Voldemort, why not broaden the search? It's not like any of these blokes are lighting the world on fire like a young Johnny Depp or Leonardo DiCaprio.
And don't tell me it's because an actor of color would hurt the box office: Not only is Spider-Man one of the most recognizable fictional characters on the planet, and managed to do just fine with Tobey "Snoozeville" Maguire playing him, whoever they cast WILL BE IN A MASK FOR HALF THE DAMNED MOVIE. AND ON THE POSTER.
I remember the hue and cry that was raised when the rumor floated that Will Smith was offered the role of Captain America, despite the fact that the very military drug experiments that turned Steve Rogers into a superman would've most definitely been tested on black WWII soldiers first (as Kyle Baker so expertly theorized in Truth: Red, White and Black). Now, I like Chris Evans a lot, but I'd be way more interested in a black Cap film — and, honestly, no actor alive comes across as more American than Will Smith. And, if The Avengers does borrow from the Civil War storyline, wouldn't a Will Smith-Robert Downey Jr. face-off be infinitely more interesting? The road not taken.
There is literally no facet of our lives that hasn't been made better by colorblind thinking — our armies are stronger, our sports teams are better, our children are more beautiful — why can't it extend to our on-screen superheroes?