What the Heck Is Going on With ‘Spider-Man: Lotus’?
With numerous Spider-Man projects on the horizon, you may or may not have heard of Spider-Man: Lotus. Unlike the upcoming Spider-Man: Freshman Year, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, or the rumored The Amazing Spider-Man 3, Spider-Man: Lotus is not affiliated with either Marvel or Sony. Instead, it is a fan film created by YouTuber Gavin J. Konop and has been described as a not-for-profit passion project. An official trailer for Spider-Man: Lotus was released a year ago and the film is believed to be releasing sometime next year, though it was initially slated for a 2022 release.
For a fan film, though, Spider-Man: Lotus has garnered a surprising amount of attention. The first full-length trailer garnered over 2.6 million views and subsequent teasers and trailers have also racked up hundreds of thousands of views. Many viewers were pleasantly surprised by how good the film looked. Spider-Man: Lotus boasts an interesting premise as it is a psychological drama that explores Peter Parker’s/Spider-Man’s (Warden Wayne) response to losing his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (Tuyen Powell). Amid his grief and regret, he begins to form a relationship with a terminally ill child who looks up to him.
In even more recognition that was surprising for a fan project, MCU filmmaker John Watts and Spider-Man actor Andrew Garfield both got wind of the project and expressed their support for it. However, just shortly after gaining recognition and praise, things hit a snag when Spider-Man: Lotus ran into a scandal of racist and homophobic messages from its creators. This started back in June, when leaked text messages from the director, Konop, and the lead actor, Wayne, surfaced that contained racial slurs and homophobic messages. The film started trending on Twitter as the whole production received backlash for its racist cast/crew.
Wayne’s racist messages were the first to leak on social media, as users shared snapshots of extremely racist messages he sent, which all included the use of racial slurs. It is unclear who leaked the messages, but they were reportedly from 2017, and social media users quickly decried that the star of the film had used such offensive and derogatory language.
Shortly after the messages were leaked, Warden released a long statement on Twitter acknowledging the messages. He apologized for using the offensive language and claimed that he was unaware of how hurtful/insensitive it was to say such things back then. Warden further explained that he had been raised in a homeschooling Christian conservative family, and didn’t have his first phone until he was 18. As a result, he says he was living in a bit of a bubble and started associating with other people who used offensive language and encouraged him to do so, too. He admitted he was stupid and ignorant as a kid and has allegedly been working on improving himself.
However, before the backlash over Wayne’s racist messages could even be fully processed, Konop was the next member of the Spider-Man: Lotus team to be exposed. Screenshots of his messages also arose and saw him use the N-word and R-word, as well as insult Watts after Watts had praised Spider-Man: Lotus (before this scandal arose). The Green Goblin actor, John Salandria, also came under fire after he stated that he was bothered by the sentiment of some of Konop’s messages, but not by the fact that he used the N-word.
Konop also released a statement addressing the controversy. His message was oddly similar to Wayne’s statement, where he apologized, but also made the excuse of being a stupid kid. He also alleged that the message of him seemingly trashing Watts was a fake, photoshopped screenshot. Konop also denied rumors that he had mistreated or underpaid his crew and that he had abandoned the project.
Will Spider-Man: Lotus still premiere?
According to Konop’s video in September, Spider-Man: Lotus is still set to premiere. Despite the backlash, he denied that he was abandoning the project and said that it was very much still going forward. However, due to some unforeseen circumstances and additional work needed, the film still does not have a release date. The last update Konop gave was on November 17, when he said that the rough cut of his film was being screened.
As a result, it does seem like Spider-Man: Lotus is still happening. Whether it should happen is an entirely different question. While Wayne and Konop did apologize, their apologies were filled with excuses and weren’t well-received by viewers. Additionally, Salandria’s comment further gives the impression that the apologies may not have been sincere and that Spider-Man: Lotus as a whole was fostering an environment of racism and discrimination. It can’t be a coincidence that three major members of the cast/crew were all accused of racism, homophobia, and of using offensive language. Regardless of how good a message Spider-Man: Lotus has been touted as having, its creators aren’t ones who have earned audiences’ support.
(featured image: Gavin J. Konop)
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