Recently, he says, he had a philosophical discussion with producer Matt Tolmach about Mary Jane or “MJ” to fans. “I was kind of joking, but kind of not joking about MJ,” he tells EW. “And I was like, ‘What if MJ is a dude?’ Why can’t we discover that Peter is exploring his sexuality? It’s hardly even groundbreaking!…So why can’t he be gay? Why can’t he be into boys?” Garfield even has an actor in mind: “I’ve been obsessed with Michael B. Jordan since The Wire. He’s so charismatic and talented. It’d be even better—we’d have interracial bisexuality!” The star has clearly suggested a sexually flexible Spidey to his director, Marc Webb, as well.
As with the rumors that Michael B. Jordan might play the Human Torch, this is a terrific use of the power of the reboot, but I think it’s less likely than Jordan’s casting to happen. It’s no more inherent to Spider-Man’s character that he be heterosexual than to the Human Torch’s that he be white. But in both cases, if the franchises dared to innovate, some segments of the fandom would likely get hysterical, because the truth is that they want the same thing over and over again, rather than to use the same characters to explore different ideas.
That, more than anything else, is what I find depressing about reboots of franchises that are driven more by the needs to hold onto the rights to certain characters, and the willingness of fans to come to what are essentially the same movies over and over again. The power of the reboot should be that it’s a clean slate, an excuse to do something different. In comics, reboots are meant to be a testament to the extent to which fans can hold multiple iterations of characters in their minds at the same time. But on film, each character doesn’t just have to be of the same race or sexual orientation, but each film and each trilogy has to hit the same character beats. We can’t even get beyond the origin story. And until we can start telling different kinds of heroes, I think we’ll have a hard time moving beyond our conception of what kind of people are eligible to be heroes in the first place.