I don’t often see racebent canonverse Marius cross my dash, which strikes me as odd because there’s very little you have to change to make it work.
Just think: M. Gillenormand, pompous old reactionary monarchist, considers his daughter’s husband “the disgrace of his family.” Yes, it’s because Georges Pontmercy fought for Napoleon, but it’s not hard to imagine Gillenormand having an extreme reaction to his favorite daughter running off with a black man.
And perhaps Marius is white-passing, so Gillenormand, wanting a grandson, removes him from Pontmercy’s custody and forbids all meaningful contact between the two in order to ensure that nobody—not even Marius himself—would know that Marius wasn’t white.
And then Marius sees his father after his death, and is confused and doesn’t know how to respond at first, but then starts learning more about Pontmercy’s life and this entire half of his lineage that he knew nothing about. And he latches onto Napoleon not just because it makes him feel closer to his father, but because Marius now knows that he doesn’t truly fit within the monarchist bourgeois sphere in which he was raised.
And so he leaves, obviously, and refuses his grandfather’s money because seriously.
And he’s got his doubts about Les Amis and their cause, because though they’re passionate about rights for every citizen, most of them are white and wealthy, and he can’t help but be a little suspicious of white bourgeoisie who don’t like Napoleon.
And he’s still a socially awkward turtle whose awareness and empathy are sometimes lacking, because that’s just what Marius Pontmercy is. But his internal conflict re: his political ideology and honoring his father carry more weight this way, I think.
@Wingsandtails, I don’t know if you’re into Les Mis but this reminded me a bit of your Fanny Price headcanon (actually I heard both of them nearly at the same time) and basically I’m in favor of headcanoning this for every famous 19th century novel.