Bullies told her she couldn’t be Spider-Man. Her neighbors threw the “Uptown Superheroes March” to prove them wrong.
image via video screencapture/the daily beast
Ellie Evangelista loves Marvel Comics superhero Spider-Man. Maybe it’s because he’s strong. Maybe it’s because he’s funny. Maybe it’s simply because he can swing from skyscraper to skyscraper in New York City, the same city four-year old-Ellie calls home. Whatever the reason, Ellie is a dedicated web-head, and more power to her.
So when boys in Ellie’s pre-K class told her she could never be her favorite hero, not because he’s fictional, but because he’s a he, and she’s a she, Ellie was understandably pretty upset. According to DNAInfo, she began “talking about not wanting to be a girl anymore” and even started pretending she was a boy at school, solely to play as Spider-Man during the day. Ellie’s mother and father, distraught over their young daughter’s increasingly complex predicament, turned to a local parenting listserv for advice. From that flurry of emails came the idea for a remarkable way to affirm that Ellie—and anyone—can indeed become their favorite hero, regardless of gender, race, or religion.
Ellie’s parents, with the support of their neighbors, were going to throw a parade.
event flier via manhattantimesnews.com
And so, on Sunday, June 7th, Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood became home to the first annual “Uptown Superheroes March.” Flanked by their parents, kids dressed as their favorite comic book characters tromped down Fort Washington Avenue in a public show of support for Ellie, and everyone else who simply wants to like who they like, irrespective of schoolyard naysaying.
The Daily Beast was on the scene, and captured some of the parade:
The march marks the latest in a long series of efforts to bring some measure of gender equality and tolerance into the predominantly male-centric world of mainstream superheroes. And, to some degree, it seems as if progress is in fact being made: In the months leading up to the release of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Age Of Ultron, uproar over the sub-par handling of the franchise’s female heroines—particularly Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow—focused a measure of serious scrutiny on the industry’s treatment of its female characters. Meanwhile, on the print side of things, Marvel’s decision to hand the mantle (and hammer) of Nordic hero Thor to a female protagonist reportedly resulted in a 30 percent sales increase over the series’ longstanding male predecessor. And just this week, acclaimed comics author Gail Simone tweeted video of a fan’s young niece declaring, in no uncertain terms, that she wants to be Captain America when she grows up.
OH MY GOD. https://t.co/41WkW6qhEh— GAIL SIMONE (@GailSimone) June 8, 2015\n
So, yes, the world of superheroes seems to be slowly becoming a more tolerant, more accepting place. While there will always be more work that can be done to ensure everyone has the opportunity to aspire to super-heroics, the Uptown Superheroes March is a step—hundreds of them, in fact—in the right direction.