Marvel’s first trans film star says Spider-Man story is ‘inherently trans’

Zach Barack at the Spider-Man Far From Home premiere

Spider-Man: Far From Home actor Zach Barack has opened up about becoming the first openly trans actor to appear in a Marvel film.

Barack told Variety that he is “kind of losing my mind a little bit,” about appearing in the superhero sequel.

“I don’t know that it fully has [sunk in],” he said following the film’s US release on Wednesday (June 26).

“I don’t quite have the capacity to explain how meaningful it is to me.”

The 23-year-old’s role in Spider-Man: Far From Home is his first in a major film. He played a friend of Peter Parker’s who gets caught up as mysterious forces create havoc worldwide.

Zach Barack says superheroes mirror trans experience

Having read comics throughout his childhood, Barack said that he feels “there’s something very inherently trans about those stories, especially ones where identity and hidden identity is part of them.”

“For example, Peter Parker’s journey is a lot about balancing being a teenager and having this other part of your life,” he explained.

“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.”

Echoing calls from fans and stars alike for better LGBT+ representation in the Marvel universe, Barack said that he hopes to see the introduction of intersectional heroes.

Sometimes there’s a pressure to be a different way and I have to actively fight that instinct.

“I’m also hoping that these characters can exist in a nuanced way….I do want to see myself represented on screen, so I do want to see a trans superhero or a queer superhero,” he said.

“But at the same time, I’m just happy these stories are being told.”

Barack is one of two trans actors to star in the Marvel film.

Tyler Luke Cunningham, who previously starred in the groundbreaking BBC sitcom Boy Meets Girl, also appears as a featured extra.

Marvel casts trans actor in Jessica Jones

However neither is the first trans actor within the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Netflix spin-off Jessica Jones introduced a first trans character in its third season, released on June 14.

Gillian, an assistant at the titular character’s detective agency, is played by Indian trans actor Aneesh Sheth.

Transgender actress Aneesh Sheth plays the character of Gillian in season 3 of Jessica Jones (Frazer Harrison: Getty)

“I am transgender and the character of Gillian is also trans. But there’s no mention of her being trans within the show, nor a narrative around her identity,” Sheth said in an interview with iNews.

“Which I think is wonderful because trans people exist in the world and it’s not always about their [trans] narrative.”