We know Marvel Studios at least knows the character that should be the next Spider-Man. They’ve used him this season in their TV division’s animated series, Ultimate Spider-Man, after all. One of their “story team” consultants, Brian Michael Bendis, is the co-creator of the character, too. Oh, and the executives who didn’t want to use him at Sony are no longer part of the picture.
Yes, Marvel Studios, Sony Pictures, it’s time to introduce Miles Morales to the world at large.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Peter Parker. Peter was, without a doubt, the original “everyman” superhero. Here was a nerdy kid, not unlike many comic book readers, who was given great power. But it wasn’t just fun and games, or a pure power fantasy, there was also great responsibility. Through Peter, we fell in love with Gwen Stacy and had our hearts broken by Norman Osborn’s foul deeds. We learned to love again, and had ever increasing tragedies. There were crises of identity, and death, and overcoming it all. For that, Peter, we as comic book readers say thank you.
But your time in the spotlight, at least for now, should be over. You see, we live in a different world now. We live in a world where, shock of shocks, there are other marginalized people. We live in a world where we’re trying to push #ComicsForward, and let them be an example to other forms of entertainment; that means not only should we be more inclusive and representative of all people in the world, we need to be.
Miles Morales took over for Peter Parker when he died in the “Ultimate Comics” Universe, a world parallel to the regular Marvel Comics world. Ultimate has been largely used as the basis of inspiration for the Marvel Cinematic Universe already. There’s Nick Fury, who was quite literally drawn as Samuel L. Jackson in his early Ultimate appearances, foregoing the traditional aging white man. There’s what we’ll call the Captain America connection, where the Hulk and other heroes’ powers are actually derivations or attempts to recreate Cap’s super soldier serum, and many more aspects. The Ultimate Universe was meant to be a world that better reflected modern society, and Miles Morales was a step in that direction. In fact, the Ultimate Universe translates to film so well, that aspects of it have been used by Fox and by Sony in their Marvel movies.
You see, Miles is half-black, and half-hispanic. He’s a mixed-race character from Brooklyn who has to learn very quickly about power and responsibility. He has his own story, though, with his own tragedies, and friends, and love interests, and even a unique power or two. And he helps better represent the world of today; Miles helps kids of all ages and races understand: you can be a hero.
Last night, when the news that Spider-Man would be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a joint deal between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures Entertainment hit, naturally “Spider-Man” and “Marvel Cinematic Universe” started trending across social media. But then, something amazing or spectacular happened: Miles Morales started trending, too. In fact, in less than an hour it was a worldwide trend on twitter. Miles didn’t appear in the joint press release by Marvel and Sony. Miles isn’t in the general public consciousness, not the way Peter Parker is. However, people who want to know, who need to know Miles rallied around him instantly.
So now, Marvel, Sony, here’s your chance. Sure, you could cast Marvel White Guy named Chris #4 here (I’m sure there’s a young, white Chris dying to play Peter Parker out there – and that’s not disparaging Mssrs. Pratt, Hemsworth, or Evans). Instead, though, you could do something new and something that, frankly, makes more story sense! You see, the other trending comment about this great new deal you’ve struck? No one, and I mean no one wants to see the origin story of Peter Parker, Spider-Man again. We get it – bit by radioactive spider, Uncle Ben dies, go out and be a hero. Since we’re reportedly losing Andrew Garfield in the role of Peter, why not make that part of the story, in a way? You don’t have to outright say, “Peter Parker is dead,” (after all, you might want to bring him in later) but you can imply that Miles has taken up the cause of a hero he once saw or knew. Now, the new Spider-Man rises up, joining the ranks of the other heroes he sees, he idolizes, and whom he’s desperately trying to fit in with. If you want to have a young hero learning the ropes, this is how you do it without it all just being a retread - the third one in a decade and a half. And no, you don’t have to explain why the Avengers don’t know Spidey, or weren’t around during the original's battles – we’ve covered that territory already with events in concurrent solo films, and with things like the upcoming Netflix series.
There will be naysayers, sure. They’ll come out of the woodwork, definitely. But there will be so many people who aren’t just happy about this move, but genuinely shocked in excitement. You’ll grab headlines, you’ll get questions at Comic-Cons, and most importantly, you’ll make a difference for millions of kids around the world. You have Falcon, and Black Panther’s coming, but having the “everyman” hero represent a greater portion of “every” would make the biggest difference of all.
So Marvel Studios, Sony Pictures, now is the time. Bring Miles Morales into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Let Miles be the new Peter Parker, and represent kids who are trying to cope with changes and responsibilities and living up to expectations – those things, those trials, they don’t know race. Use Miles Morales as the new Peter Parker, folks… at least until you can use Kamala Khan as the newer one in 2019’s Inhumans.