Fans will be seeing a new face in the Marvel Cinematic Universe when Zach Barack makes his debut in “Spider-Man: Far From Home”.
Not only is the Spidey sequel Barack’s first-ever film, the actor holds the distinction of being the first openly transgender actor to star in a Marvel Studios production.
“I’m kind of losing my mind a little bit but I’m acting like I’m not,” Barack said in an interview with Variety. “I don’t know that it fully has [sunk in]…I don’t quite have the capacity to explain how meaningful it is to me.”
According to the 23-year-old, he was able to identify with the character of Spider-Man in the comics.
“I’m not by any means an expert on comics, but I read them growing up, you know, and they were important. And there’s something very inherently trans about those stories, especially ones where identity and hidden identity is part of them,” he explained. “For example, Peter Parker’s journey [in ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’] is a lot about balancing being a teenager and having this other part of your life.
“And that is just so trans, it’s something that I absolutely think I’ve felt on a daily basis sometimes — especially being a transmasculine person because sometimes there’s a pressure to be a different way than I feel naturally inclined to do because I want to fit in, and I have to actively fight that instinct. But the fact of the matter is, being in this movie is so beyond incredibly meaningful and I hope that it means something to other people.”
In the upcoming sequel, Barack plays Peter Parker’s classmate, and told Variety it’s been an “honour” to receive all the positive feedback about being a trans presence on screen.
Looking back on how important it was for him to see trans characters onscreen, he said. “I don’t think I actually saw a person that I consciously knew was actually trans in any form of media until was maybe 17, 18,” he said.
“Before that the only thing I’d seen was ‘Boys Don’t Cry’, which not only doesn’t have a trans person in it but is a really brutal story, and the prospect of coming out wasn’t super-exciting after seeing that,” he recalled. “When I saw these messages of other people sort of being like, ‘It’s really meaningful,’… I remember I cried the first time I saw one of those because I remember wanting to write those.”
Barack is hopeful that his role in the movie will have the same impact on trans youth that those earlier projects had on him, and looks forward to someday seeing a trans superhero.
“I do want to see myself represented on screen, so I do want to see a trans superhero or a queer superhero,” he added. “And I want it to be hopefully someone who can draw from their experience in real life in that way – [to show] queer people are getting work, too. But at the same time, I’m just happy these stories are being told.”