The fires of excitement have been going for a few weeks over the Marvel deal to co-produce the next Spider-man movie. Recently The Wrap reporter Jeff Sneider threw some more gasoline on the fire during a recent Meet the Movie Press podcast when he slyly implied that his insider sources had told him that it is very unlikely that Spider-Man will be played by a white actor. Here’s what he said:
Sneider: This is not set in stone, guys, but I’m telling you right now: Spider-Man’s not going to be white.
Nathaniel Rogers: Really?
Snieder: Spider-Man is not going to be white.
Nathaniel Rogers: Is that your speculation, or…?
Snieder: I’m 95% sure. Spider-Man’s going to be most likely black. But there’s a chance he could also be Latino. 95% sure: not white.
And that’s all it took to sound the trumpets of fan boy war: Miles vs Peter. Black vs White. “Preserve the Classics” VS. “Who the hell is Miles Morales”? Everyone is jumping to pick a side but it’s not necessary. It’s a no brainer: The next Spider-man should be Peter Parker.
Before you start getting the pitchforks and torches out or start commenting “You are against diversity” and “You are scared of change”, let me explain. I want Miles Morales on the big screen. Brian Michael Bendis has achieved perfection in the creation of Miles Morales and his transition to Ultimate Spider-Man. His work on Ultimate Spider-man, both Peter and Miles, has produced the best Marvel Comics storytelling I have read in recent memory. In all aspects, Miles is great and I have read every arc, side story and cameo he has made. Hell, I even read a few issues of All New X-Men to catch a glimpse of him. Despite all that, and though it may seem like a paradox, the reason why the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t ready for Miles is simply because the Marvel Cinematic Universe does not yet have a Peter Parker.
Peter Parker’s death and legacy are two of the pillars of Miles’ story. It is not something that can be brushed over without severely affecting who he is as a character. Imagine a Punisher movie where Frank Castle never had a family or an X-Men movie where mutants are loved by all humanity. Something would be missing, and not having Peter Parker affects Miles Morales in several ways.
Miles was bitten by a spider from the same lab as Peter and said spider was stolen by his Uncle, a professional thief. It bites Miles while visiting his uncle’s apartment and he gains the usual Spider-Man power set along with a camouflage ability, and a venom blast. Miles then goes on to train with videos of Peter he finds on YouTube.
Miles receives his powers about three months before the death of Peter Parker. After much indecision, fueled by his fear of his powers and being different, Miles rushes to the scene only to arrive too late to help. This remorse and grief drives Miles to overcome his fear of his powers and allows him to take up Peter’s mantle. Miles doesn’t come up with the name Spider-Man out of the blue; there already is a Spider-Man. He makes a conscious decision to fill the shoes of a fallen hero he believes he could have saved.
It’s no coincidence that Miles goes through all the trials and tribulations on the page that he would go through if he became our Marvel movie Spider-Man. Bendis does an excellent job of portraying and mirroring the backlash that a new non-Peter Spider-Man would encounter. He faces condemnation and general prejudice for wearing Peter’s costume in his first outing, he experiences the feeling of being disrespectful to the memory of a great known hero, and he meets skepticism from the powers that be about his ability to fill Peters shoes. All these things stem from the fact that Peter was known, established and died bravely. Without a Peter, or with a Peter that only exists in flashbacks, this loses a lot of its gravitas.
Aunt May, Gwen and Mary Jane are a small faction of Miles’ cast. They represent the knowledge and past of Peter which serves to give Miles insight into the life of the original Spider-Man. Mary Jane delivers advice on whether Miles should reveal his secret to his girlfriend, and Aunt May gifts him Peter’s web shooters after he earns her respect. Without a Peter we can remember, the emotional impact of the ghosts of Parker’s past just wouldn’t feel the same.
Relationship with the Avengers
Captain America carries a lot of guilt from Peter’s death. Peter took a bullet for Cap which contributed to his vulnerability during the fatal battle. These feelings of remorse transfer over to Miles. His relationship with Miles progresses and matures from “”No way kid, you are too young. I won’t let another one die” to “I will give you a chance, but I am watching you” and then finally, “He is my second chance; my way to make it right”.
It eventually comes full circle when Miles saves his life which convinces Cap to become the advocate for Miles’s inclusion into the Avengers. They build a separate and unique bond. It’s heavy stuff, but it’s once again based on the foundation of Peter being gone.
Don’t get me wrong, Peter Parker isn’t mentioned every issue, or even every other issue, but his history and shadow reverberate in all aspects of Miles’s life. It’s the nature of succession. If Marvel wants Miles Morales to be as engaging and thrilling onscreen as he is on the page, they have to give him a fair chance. Furthermore, we have never seen a Marvel produced Spider-Man movie. Let’s get a Parker movie done right. Let the Amazing Spider-Man do his thing and when the moment is right, lets give Miles his time to shine.
Maybe that’s also the closure the naysayers need. After saying a proper goodbye to Peter, they will realize Miles is not just a “Black Peter Parker” and he’s not a politically correct, affirmative action hire. Maybe he will earn their respect after seeing him win over the onscreen pro-Parker skeptics, and earn approval from the likes of Nick Fury, Aunt May and Captain America. Maybe then they will see he’s a hero in his own right and just like all of us he’s hoping he can live up to the legacy of Spider-man.