What is Spider-Man: Lotus and why is it so controversial?

What is Spider-Man: Lotus and why is it so controversial?
Spider-Man: Lotus | Full Trailer (Fan-Film)

Highly anticipated fan-made movie Spider-Man: Lotus is set the release this month, but was is it, and why has it been embroiled in controversy before it has even been released?

What is Spider-Man: Lotus?

Spider-Man: Lotus is a crowdfunded fan film that raised over $100k from backers. The film generated a lot of hype after a trailer for it was released in 2021, gaining 2.7 million views on YouTube. The trailer suggests that the film will centre on Peter Parker struggling with guilt and grief over the death of his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, a storyline that hasn’t be explored particularly deeply by Sony or Marvel.

The film was originally set for release in the summer of 2022, and caught the attention of Andrew Garfield, and Jon Watts who has directed all three Tom Holland Spider-Man films.

What controversy has the film faced?

In June 2022, an anonymous twitter user shared screenshots of messages from Warden Wayne, the man cast to play Peter Parker in the movie, throwing around racial slurs.

Wayne was quick to post a lengthy apology to Twitter blaming his past behaviour on being “raised in a homeschool conservative environment in a small town in Arkansas.”

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“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.” The actor added.

His apology received mixed reactions, but it wasn’t the only controversy to face the film.

In response to the allegations writer and director of the film Gavin J. Konop, who was 18 at the time of production, wrote in a now deleted Tweet that Wayne had opened up to him about his former ignorance and that the film “was not created to perpetuate hate, or bigotry, or racism. It was born to inspire [and] find hope.”

It turns out that Konop also had a past of his own, after Twitter user @Berkmanboom shared screenshots of Konop using racial and homophobia slurs.

In a YouTube video that addressed the controversies facing the film titled “Addressing Everything”, Konop attempted to explain his past actions as well as claiming some of the screenshots were fake.


“In my first couple years of high school, I’m gonna be honest I was pretty much a giant loser. I was online way too much, I was part of these group chats and communities where I very often said the most offensive things I could think of to get attention from people.”

He also said that he takes “full responsibility” for his actions and admits that he knew “I was wrong, I wasn't raised knowing these things were not okay to say.”

But one step further it turns out there was a bigger reason @Berkmanboom leaked the screenshots. He turned out to be a 15-year-old named Matt, who met Konop five years earlier.

In a since-deleted post Matt said the two bonded over comics:

“He was even going to help me make my own Spider-Man fan film. He was going to write and edit the whole project. He eventually started to get more followers and changed his platform to Gjkcentral and started to drop me. I had other friends, but no one who I felt understood me like Gavin,”

He said that his anger grew as Konop grew more popular, but feared he’d receive backlash. It wasn’t until someone leaked Wayne’s racist comments that Matt decided to share similar messages of Konop.

After all these controversial messages came to light, the film’s special effects team quit. And some backers of the film wanted refunds and their names removed from the credits (one of the perks for donating). In October 2022, Konop said it “just isn’t feasible to refund” people as the money has already been spent.

It was also alleged that Konop didn’t pay his storyboard artists despite raising money for the film.

In his “Addressing Everything” video, Konop explained that in pre-production that had done a volunteer artist call for the movie. He then put out another for storyboard artists, writing at the time: “I’m going to need some storyboard artists (willing to work for free) for the action sequences that we’re filming in additional photography.”

In the video, Konop says it was “not received well” and was an “amateur mistake” on his part. “I realised I was completely in the wrong. Storyboards are a lot more central to the production of a movie than fan art would be, not to discount the fan art but more so to put more emphasis on the process of being a storyboard artist.” Konop explained. At the time, he had clarified that storyboard artists would now, in fact, be paid.

But he said that the screenshots about him not paying storyboard artists are fake and have been made by someone else to make him look bad.

In a new interview with Newsweek, Wayne said that he has been on a "social media hiatus" which helped him put things in "perspective." He added: "I realized I could spend the rest of my life trying to convince everyone I'm not the same person I was at 16-17 in those leaked messages, and I'd still fail. People will always have their strict opinions on me no matter what I say. And that's okay, they're allowed to believe and think what they want."

Despite these swathes of controversy, the film premiered on August 10 on YouTube. At the time of writing it has been viewed more than 665,000 times.

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