Creatives behind the anticipated fan film “Spider-Man: Lotus” have recently come under fire for past leaked Instagram messages where the film’s star Warden Wayne, who’s playing Peter Parker, repeatedly uses a racial slur. Writer and Director Gavin J. Konop also faces allegations for use of harsh and derogatory language.
“Spider-Man: Lotus” is a fan film that’s been in the works since mid-pandemic and has raked in over $112,000 on their indiegogo page. The film is still slated for a 2022 release, according to Konop.
Wayne released a written apology last Friday, June 17, after the initial leaked messages surfaced online stating that he “always thought it was better to be above reproach and come forward honestly” about his past mistakes made at a younger age.
“Years ago when I was in high school, I used to say terrible things,” Wayne said in a written statement. “I used offensive language, often homophobic or racially insensitive, casually or in jokes. I am sorry, and I’m ashamed.”
Wayne stated that he was raised in a homeschooled, conservative environment where he saw the world through an isolated lens.
“My family has always been associated with groups such as the Duggars, and those values were subsequently pushed onto me,” Wayne confessed. “I didn’t get my own cell phone until I was 18. I was in a bubble, where I wasn’t aware of how serious it was for me to say these things or these words. My ideas of right and wrong were skewed.”
Wayne continued to say that he was “embarrassed and sad” at who he was while apologizing to those he hurt, past and present.
“I should’ve known better,” Wayne concluded in his statement. “And I spend every day wishing I hadn’t been a terrible person when I was younger. But I can’t change the past. All I can do is take responsibility, and own up to my incredible shortcomings. And continue trying to be a better person. I hope you all can forgive me. I’m sorry.”
Konop, the writer and director of “Spider-Man: Lotus,” also faced accusations of using similar ableist and racist language in messages.
“In the past, Warden has been open with me about his former ignorance, as well as what could surface as a result, and I have done everything in my power to hold him accountable — not only then, but also today, and forever,” Konop said in a released statement about Wayne’s messages over social media on June 19. “I bluntly told him that this is going to live with him for the rest of his life – there’s nothing he can do about it, and that’s the reality that he has accepted.”
Konop announced Monday that he will be taking a brief social media hiatus.
“To the marginalized communities that his words have impacted, including those within my own crew, I apologize,” Konop continued. “This is disheartening for us all, but we will continue to work towards finishing the movie as it was intended. The character of Spider-Man was made to represent everyone — regardless of race, gender, or identity — and he has been that way since the dawn of his creation.”
Twitter user @Berkmanboom released a video and screen thread of the supposed “leaked direct messages” claiming the allegations against Konop were truthful and legitimate. The messages have since gained traction resulting in Konop’s social media hiatus.
Tuyen Powell, who will be portraying Gwen Stacy in “Spider-Man: Lotus,” released her own statement yesterday on the recently released messages.
Tuyen, who is Asian, stated that she is proud of her heritage but recognized her privilege and responsibility to speak out “against racism for those who cannot.”
“I am white passing where some members of my family aren’t,” Tuyen said. “My mom has been spat on, refused service, and been kicked out of places because of her race. My brother has come home crying because of the racially motivated comments made to him at school. My sisters have cried to me wishing they could be ‘more white’ and therefore more accepted by society.”
Tuyen stated that what Wayne has said in the past is inexcusable while expressing sympathy and condolences to those directly affected.
“I was unaware and shocked by Warden Wayne’s history of racism or the messages we all saw today,” Tuyen said. “While I cannot speak for who Warden was. I know that in the year that I have known him I have not witnessed any racist comments, acts of racism, or hate from him.”