It's been confirmed that Jamie Foxx will be taking on Spider-Man in the Amazing Spider-Man sequel that starts filming in February. Foxx told his daughter, a big fan of Spidey (You're raising that one right, good sir) that he would be playing Electro when he took her to visit the sets under construction.
Electro is an early Spider-Man villain, and is almost by definition kind of stupid. He was granted the ability to control electricity after being struck by lightning because that is the sort of thing that happens when comic writers don't get called on their bullshit. Peter Parker usually manages to beat him with a bucket of water.
Nonetheless, Electro has stuck around for a fair number of years as a solo villain and as part of the Sinister Six. He's even managed to show that he isn't all bad when he publicly denounced a fellow villain claiming she was his daughter who decided to kill thousands of people at Ground Zero as a terrorist statement. I'm not ready to award him any merit badges for doing something most people would do automatically, but for a borderline mentally handicapped Spider-Man villain that was a pretty stand-up thing to do.
Also, Electro is white... not that you can really tell in that ridiculous costume, but he is muy blanco. Jamie Foxx, not so much. Guess where this is headed?
People on message boards and in comments sections are already decrying the "blackification" of the Marvel universe. Presumably this so-called opaqualypse* started when Samuel L. Jackson took on the role of Nick Fury in the crop of Marvel Studios films. Granted, Fury is a traditionally white character, but the Ultimate line always drew him as black. Indeed, as Samuel L. Jackson.
Why the switch? Who gives a Pym Particle? It was awesome. Marvel even asked if they could use Jackson's likeness. He turned them down, and after artist Bryan Hitch did it anyway Jackson got on board because he's have been an idiot not to. Ten years later, he's pretty much the bad ass motherfucker of a universe full of them.
After that, which most people seemed to accept OK because being mad at a character being made more like Samuel L. Jackson is like being mad they have a jet pack. We got to deal with all the fun in the new mixed race Spider-Man in the Ultimate Universe. Miles Morales, who is half-black/half-Latino, took over the roles after the death of Peter Parker. Next thing you know, Glenn Beck is blaming it on Obama. In Beck's defense, Obama is actually the technical president of the Marvel universe, but in this case the president had nothing to do with it.
As I pointed out in the story I just linked to in the last paragraph, Beck's "logic" was actually not completely wrong. He claimed that having a black president meant that the entertainment field felt pressured to use non-white characters in place of Caucasian ones. In reality, it's more that comic publishers and the like feel that such characters are now more acceptable since we elected a mixed-race president. That was pretty much an exact quote from Marvel editor-in-chief Alex Alonso, who as you might have guessed is himself lacking in Aryan blood department.
*Opaque + Apocalypse... did that work? Should I have gone with "African-Ameriggedon? I take back what I said about comic writers. This stuff is hard.
Thing is, movies have a history of recasting white characters (Usually villains... Hollywood) as black, and until now I really haven't heard anyone express any real opposition to this.
Michael Clarke Duncan played the Kingpin in Daredevil, and no on batted an eyelash because Duncan was clearly the best actor for the job. He, and only he, had both the acting chops and the sheer physical size to portray Wilson Fisk. You need a giant, and he was the only one hanging around.
Back before that Billy Dee Williams was cast as Harvey Dent in Tim Burton's Batman. Dent is another lily-white character, but he was given a pass on criticism as well... possibly because saying, "I hate Lando Calrissian being in this Batman movie" is a statement that justifiably gets you committed to a looney bin.
He was all set to go full-on Two-Face as well. When Tommy Lee Jones was cast for Batman and Robin the studio had to pay off Williams his pay or play contract. Yet throughout the whole ordeal I can't remember a single person saying, "Why is a black guy playing Dent?"
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Nor did we hear anything when African-British actor Idris Elba played Heimdall in Thor. They literally replaced the Scandinavian gatekeeper to the land all white supremacists masturbate to with a hulking, all-powerful black warrior. Were all the racists off that day or something? Was it Bigotanzaa?*
There are legitimate concerns about Foxx playing Electro. First off, Electro is really scraping the bottom of the bad guy barrel, and I don't think Foxx has it in him to give the kind of life Thomas Hardy gave Sandman. One thing I can promise you, though, is that Electro's race is utterly irrelevant. Completely. You could cast Jamie Foxx in the role, John Leguizamo, or Masi Oka in the part and it wouldn't make a lick of difference. None.
"But they're just trying to get black people to go see the movie," you shout from your mayonnaise-stained sofa. Maybe, the thing that's fucked is that you think that there is something wrong with that in the first place.
*Bigot + Kwanzaa... I should probably stop, huh?