Sony's Playstation 5 made its official debut with a major showcase event, and one of the biggest hits of that presentation was the reveal of Marvel and Sony's new game, Spider-Man: Miles Morales. The starring character of the hit Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse animated film is now being (literally) put in fans' hands as a playable video game character - and the timing couldn't be better. Miles Morales' Spider-Man is one of the biggest success stories for new-age comic book character creations; at this drastic point in our history, Miles Morales's rise is also an important act of symbolism.
Miles Morales: Not My Spider-Man
Miles Gonzalo Morales was created in 2011 Marvel Comics by acclaimed Spider-Man/Superman writer Brian Michael Bendis, and Italian artist Sarah Pichelli. Miles was Afro-Latino kid (that's black and Latinx, as many people still wonder...) who became the Spider-Man of Marvel's 2000 alt-universe "Ultimate" line, following the death of that reality's Peter Parker.
After Bendis' major success with shepherding Ultimate Peter Parker's story since the 2000s, the switch to Miles Morales in the 2010s was not met with universal acclaim. There were a lot of so-called Marvel fans who labeled the character change as social justice pandering in the Obama era, inspiring the usual wave anti-diversity rhetoric about how Marvel should create new heroes of color, instead of replacing white ones, etc. Despite many, many, fans coming to Miles' defense, there really has been just one real measure of proof that he was a viable and necessary new character: time.
Miles Morales Becomes THE Spider-Man
After managing to get Miles Morales / Spider-Man off the ground, Marvel made several big moves to thrust him into the limelight. Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man positioned Miles as the main Spider-Man character of the Ultimate line; in 2015, after the Ultimate line ended in the "Secret War" event, Miles Morales was one of the few Ultimate characters transported over to the main Marvel Comics line, where he starred in the Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man comic series. Miles has become so popular within the Marvel Comics fandom that Peter Parker had to move over and officially share the mantle of Spider-Man, as both characters now co-exist in one modern Marvel universe.
Miles Morales Spider-Man is a Brand
After Miles's popularity literally saved him from comic book erasure, the character busted through to the global mainstream in the 2018 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse film. That movie was largely overlooked when it was in production, only to debut to glowing critical response when it was first released. The visual achievement of creating a cinematic 3D comic was a lure for moviegoers, but the heartfelt story of Miles Morales' origin is what made Spider-Verse really hit home with fans. It wasn't just the film's theme about how anyone can be a hero like Spider-Man - it was also the urban, Afro-Latino culture that came with Miles, giving many fans of color a superhero world they were more familiar with.
Word-of-mouth and streaming have only made Into the Spider-Verse and Miles Morales an even bigger icon, one who has become a brand unto himself. Miles Morales Spider-Man merchandise has shot up in profits since Spider-Verse's release, and now the character is about to go from supporting character in 2018's Marvel's Spider-Man video game for Playstation 4, to the biggest launch character of Playstation 5's upcoming Spider-Man: Miles Morales video game. With that game already poised for rapid success, and an entire Spider-Verse franchise in the works (including a sequel film), Miles Morales may soon overtake Peter Parker as Marvel's most iconic (and profitable) Spider-Man.
The Timing Couldn't Be Better
Miles Morales was a forward-thinking diversity creation that Marvel got out the door before the current social issues about race and police culture really came bubbling to the surface in the mid-2010s. But his arrival as a mainstream icon couldn't be more timely.
With nearly a decade of life under his belt, Miles Morales had stood the test of time to prove that all that trolling about "social justice pandering" was so very wrong. In creating a bi-racial new version of Spider-Man - and then, letting him legitimately take up the spotlight - Marvel has extended the Spider-Man brand further than it ever thought possible, at a time when Peter Parker was starting to get stale.
In the current social climate, Miles becomes an even bigger symbol of how characters of color have just as much mainstream appeal (and earning potential) as any white character. Miles' origin story involves his black father (a cop) being estranged from his uncle (a secret supervillain), while also being at odds with both his son and Spider-Man. It's an origin that begs to be revisited soon, with more of the modern socio-political concerns that are so obviously baked into that story, brought to the surface.
Peter Parker will always be a superhero legend, but Miles Morales is the Spider-Man for these times and is a success now stands as an example to so many more diverse characters that have, and will, come after.