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The moment I walked out of a screening of Nowhere Boy at Sundance this year, I said to anyone who would listen "I wish Aaron Johnson could play Spider-Man." It was months before the release of Kick-Ass and the Spider-Man reboot had just been announced, and Johnson's incarnation of a teenage John Lennon in Nowhere Boy was so spot-on and heartfelt that he seemed like a perfect Peter Parker. But at the time I was convinced that Kick-Ass would make Johnson such a star that he wouldn't be able to consider playing any other superhero-- and anyway, he'd be too busy with Kick-Ass 2.
Six months later, Nowhere Boy still hasn't hit American theaters (it's coming in October), Kick-Ass was somewhere between a flop and a modest hit, Aaron Johnson still isn't a star, and no one has been cast to play the new Spider-Man. Now the rumor I thought was impossible back in January has come to light: the Los Angeles Times is reporting that Johnson is now on the shortlist to play young Peter Parker, along with fellow new addition Anton Yelchin. The two join Josh Hutcherson, Andrew Garfield, Jamie Bell (who was rumored earlier to already have the job), Alden Ehrenreich and Frank Dillane on a shortlist that isn't looking so short anymore.
What's funny is that, during the press day for Kick-Ass in April, Johnson told me he had turned down offers to play other superheroes. I speculated that the offer had been for Spider-Man-- because, really, what other role made sense? Johnson seemed pretty doubtful that another superhero movie would be worth his time, and I believed him-- though who knows what kind of convincing Spider-Man director Marc Webb could have done in the meantime to potentially make him change his mind.
Much as I liked Johnson in Kick-Ass and Nowhere Boy, I'd actually rather see the part go to Yelchin, who showed serious potential as part of crowded ensembles in both Star Trek and Terminator: Salvation last summer. Yes he'll already be busy with Star Trek 2, but he seems to have a fondness for big blockbusters that Johnson simply doesn't. Of course none of this accurately predicts who would be good in the role, and I'm still waiting for them to scrap all of this and cast Justin Bieber instead. So really, forget I said anything.