White Actor to Play Spider-Man's Asian Best Friend, Sort Of

Michael Barbieri cast in 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' as character based on Ganke Lee.

More whitewashing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? 14-year-old actor Michael Barbieri has reportedly been cast in Marvel's upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming as one of Peter Parker's best friends. The part appears to be based on a character named Ganke Lee... who is Asian American in the comic books.

Michael Barbieri Joins SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

Are you really doing this again, Marvel? After all the negative press around the casting of a very white, you're-not-fooling-anybody Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in Doctor Strange, the studio appears to be doubling down on whitewashing the MCU's supporting characters of Asian descent.

Man, forget Asian superheroes -- we can't barely even see Asians as supporting characters in this universe.

In the comics, Ganke is a Korean American teenager and trusted best friend of Miles Morales, the half-black, half-Hispanic teen who becomes Spider-Man in Marvel's "Ultimate" universe (which was folded into the main Marvel Universe in 205 -- yes, comic book continuity is confusing, whatevs).

CinemaBlend explains the complicated business of being Spider-Man's best friend:

Here's where things get ... complicated. Ganke, fans of the Ultimate Spider-Man line of comics will know, is the best friend of a Spider-Man, but not of Peter Parker. Ganke was the best friend of Miles Morales, another character blessed with the powers of Spider-Man. A lot of the traits that Tom Holland seems to be pulling from could fit either Peter Parker or Miles Morales, though obviously Holland's playing Peter, and Marvel has made it clear that they would not use Miles right away in the MCU. So would they really give Peter Parker Miles Morales's best friend on screen? It'd be a strange decision, though one that could help separate Homecoming from the previous versions of Spidey we have seen on screen to date. In the books, Ganke was Miles' trusted confidante. He even knew Spider-Man's secret identity, which could be a major twist for the character Michael Barbieri is playing... if, in fact, it's a version of Ganke.

ComicBook.com clarifies that Barbieri is playing an original character who is modeled after Ganke, with an affinity for superheroes and unwavering optimism and support for his web-slinging best bud. Except this movie version, of course, will be a White Ganke, pal to Peter Parker, the traditionally white Spider-Man.

Whoever the heck he's playing, if this character is indeed modeled after Ganke yet not exactly Ganke, it certainly feels like one big missed opportunity to add a little bit more color to Spider-Man's cinematic life. Does anyone else think someone like Hudson Yang would have been a perfect actor to play Ganke?

More here: Marvel Casts Michael Barbieri as Ganke in 'Spider-Man: Homecoming'


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