Zach Barack is the first openly trans actor in a Marvel film, starring in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats.
Landing the role just two weeks before the film began filming, the 23-year-old Barack compares superhero characters to similarities of trans people.
First trans actor in a Marvel film
He told Variety: ‘I’m not by any means an expert on comics, but I read them growing up, and they were important. There’s something very inherently trans about those stories, especially ones where identity and hidden identity is part of them.’
In the film, Barack plays Peter Parker’s classmate. He recalls similarities between Parker’s journey in Spider-Man: Homecoming to his own personal journey.
‘It’s a lot about balancing being a teenager and having this other part of your life. And that is just so trans.’ he says.
Barack shared on his Instagram account that he was 17 before he saw a trans person on television portrayed in a positive role.
He cited watching Laverne Cox star on Orange is the New Black as being an important experience for him, both as a trans person and as an actor. Prior to that he admits he’d only seen Boys Don’t Cry, a movie about a trans boy being brutally murdered.
Finding support from other trans kids
He also admitted he thought about ending his own life.
However, Barack also said the support and love he received from other trans kids helped to get him to where he is today.
He also expressed his thoughts for all the trans individuals who cannot be themselves. He also talked about those who were murdered just for being who they are.
Barack said he felt the responsibility of being part of the rise in LGBTI representation in mainstream media and hoped his on-screen role will have a positive impact on trans youth.
‘I do want to see myself represented on screen, so I do want to see a trans superhero or a queer superhero,’ he stated.
‘And I want it to be hopefully someone who can draw from their experience in real life, but at the same time, I’m just happy these stories are being told.’
‘I hope it means something to other people’
He concluded: ‘Being in this movie is so beyond incredibly meaningful. I hope that it means something to other people.’
There has been previous trans representation on the superhero front.
DC cast the first trans superhero on television (Nicole Maines Dreamer in Supergirl).
Marvel also featured Aneesh Sheth’s openly trans character, Gillian, on Netflix’s Jessica Jones.
Spider-Man: Far From Home opened in theaters on 2 July. It is already breaking box office records, generating $39.2 million on opening day. The film is expected to earn between $125 and $150 million in its first week.