What is Spider-Man: Lotus?
First announced in August 2021, Spider-Man: Lotus is the brainchild of filmmaker Gavin J. Konop. The film was produced as a non-profit passion project with no input from Marvel Studios or Sony Pictures.
Set shortly after the death of Gwen Stacy, Spider-Man: Lotus finds a grieving Peter Parker contemplating hanging up his costume for good. His mind is changed, however, after he receives a letter from a sick child asking that Spider-Man visit him before he dies. The film’s first teaser trailer, released in October 2021, can be viewed below.
The trailer drew praise from comics readers, who recognized it being inspired by “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man.” Originally printed in Amazing Spider-Man #248, it is widely considered to be one of the best Spider-Man stories ever written. The film also got a boost with announcements of support from actor Andrew Garfield and director Jon Watts.
It seemed that Spider-Man: Lotus had an eager audience waiting for its release. However, that audience quickly turned on the films’ cast and crew.
Actor Warden Wayne’s Racist Past
The first controversy to hit Spider-Man: Lotus centered around lead actor and co-writer Warden Wayne. In June 2022, Twitter user @Thnnnder shared a series of screen captures showcasing a series of racist comments allegedly made by Wayne on his social media. While such images are easily fabricated, Wayne responded by admitting that the comments were his.
In a lengthy post to his personal Twitter, which can be read below, Wayne claimed to be a changed man. Wayne discussed his sheltered upbringing in a conservative home, where racist language and attitudes were “pushed onto me.” Wayne said he was “embarrassed and sad” about who he was, but that he took responsibility for his actions and was trying to be a better person.
The reaction to Wayne’s explanation was mixed, with some doubting his sincerity. Konop addressed the controversy in a Twitter post that has since then been deleted. The filmmaker expressed his own disgust with Wayne’s comments. He also claimed to have discussed things with Wayne and, while disappointed in his lead actor and co-writer, he was satisfied with his apology.
Director Gavin J. Konop’s Offensive Remarks
Shortly after Konop’s statement on Wayne’s racist past, the director faced accusations of racism himself. Another Twitter tipster, @Berkmanboom, posted screenshots of racist, homophobic, and sexist remarks made by Gavin K. Konop. The original post has been deleted, but the damage was done.
Konop addressed the controversy in a video on YouTube, which can be viewed below. Konop admitted to making some of the comments, but said that other images circulating online after the initial post were fake. This included one where he allegedly insulted Spider-Man: No Way Home director Jon Watts.
Describing himself as “pretty much just a giant loser” in high school, Konop admitted to making statements just to shock people. He also claimed, like Warden Wayne, to have progressed beyond his previous attitudes. This apology, however, was less than effective and many who had crowdfunded Spider-Man: Lotus demanded refunds of their contributions.
The VFX Team Quits
In response to the controversy surrounding Wayne and Konop, the entire visual effects team for Spider-Man: Lotus collectively walked off the project. Artist Max Aurnhammer addressed the controversy in a YouTube video, which can be viewed below. Aurnhammer praised the other artists and their work before showing off some of the completed shots. He noted they regretted leaving the film, but that it was “no longer aligned with what Spider-Man represents as a character.”