Sam Biddle of Gawker appears to have combed through some more of these leaked e-mails on WikiLeaks’ searchable database, and has uncovered what appears to be a licensing agreement between Sony Entertainment Pictures and Marvel Studios regarding how Spider-Man should be portrayed on film. Dated sometime in September of 2011, the agreement lists a series of rules and guidelines for both Spider-Man and Peter Parker. The “mandatory character traits” for Spider-Man are listed as:
- Does not torture
- Does not kill unless in defense of self or others
- Does not use foul language beyond PG-13
- Does not smoke tobacco
- Does not sell/distribute illegal drugs
- Does not have sex before the age of 16, does not have sex with anyone below the age of 16
- Not a homosexual (unless Marvel has portrayed that alter ego as a homosexual)
And the following–and separate–character traits applied to Peter Parker are listed as:
- His full name is Peter Benjamin Parker.
- He is Caucasian and heterosexual.
- His parents become absent from his life during his childhood.
- From the time his parents become absent he is raised by Aunt May and Uncle Ben in New York City.
- He gains his powers while attending either middle school or college.
- He gains his powers from being bitten by a spider.
- He designs his first red and blue costume.
- The black costume is a symbiotic and not designed by him.
- He is raised in a middle class household in Queens, New York.
- He attends or attended high school in Queens, New York, and he attends or attended college in New York City, New York.
Again, note the document has different and separate guidelines for Spider-Man and Peter Parker, regarding them as distinctive fictional characters.
Biddle took issue with these lists of “forbidden traits,” particularly with regards to race and sexual orientation, accusing Sony and Marvel of wanting to make Spider-Man “vanilla,” “a total dweeb,” and a “f***ing dork.” In contrast, Devin Faraci of Birth.Movies.Death took a more nuanced approach, pointing out “the rules for Spider-Man are sort of no-brainers” for a PG-13 superhero film, adding that the web-slinger’s ethnicity and sexuality is entirely dependent upon how Marvel chooses to portray Peter and/or Spider-Man in the comics, noting “the list of Peter’s attributes speak specifically to the character of Peter Parker introduced in the pages of Amazing Fantasy #15.”
Newsarama also stresses the distinction between the characters of Peter Parker and Spider-Man as defined by the document, observing that:
Since there’s no race requirement among the broader “Spider-Man” traits — the character actually could have any racial background — and the contract states that a homosexual could wear the Spider-Man costume, if that character is created first by Marvel.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that since the guidelines are dated 2011, it’s limited towards Sony’s reboot films as opposed to any current agreement between Sony and Marvel Studios:
…it’s clear that the focus of the guidelines — reportedly part of a 2011 contract, which suggests the guidelines were created in part to guide planning for 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man movie reboot — was far less about social progressivism or the lack thereof, and far more about securing the idea of Spider-Man as a superhero.