So, take this with a grain of salt: Jeff Sneider of The Wrap was on the Meet The Movie Press podcast recently (via Slashfilm), and dropped some bombs about the next Spider-Man (who, as we know, is now in the hands of a Sony/Marvel Studios partnership and will likely play a role in the upcoming Civil War).
Sneider had this to say:
Listen, this is not set in stone guys, but I’m telling you right now, Spider-Man’s not going to be white. Spider-Man’s not going to be white. 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… I really feel strongly. Sony has an opportunity to beat Marvel and DC to the punch with a major black comic book character. Like I mentioned last week, the emails that leaked were perceived as racist in some quarters. I really think that’s going to play into things.
This obviously leads to massive speculation that the films will use Miles Morales (created by Brian Michael Bendis) as the new Spider-Man, rather than Peter Parker. Morales, for those who aren’t following comic books, is the second iteration of the webhead in Marvel’s “Ultimate” universe — a universe that Marvel Studios has borrowed from before for their films, most notably their depiction of Nick Fury. Some mild spoilers for the comics, but… in the Ultimate Universe, Peter Parker is eventually murdered by the Green Goblin, and in the wake of his death, Morales — who was bitten by a different genetically engineered spider (longer story, but it was created using Parker’s blood) — develops super powers and takes on the mantle of a new Spider-Man.
It’s a terrific goddamn run of comics, and while I’ve always loved Spider-Man, Morales’s current version has become my favorite.
It would also be an absolutely superb idea for the films, and here’s why:
1) We’re done with Peter Parker. There have now been five major Spider-Man movies, and it’s more than likely that audiences are growing tired of him. Between Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, Spider-Man has gotten a little bit out of hand and the idea of casting Parker yet again (all signs point to Garfield not returning) is too much.
2) You could tell an origin story without telling the same origin story. One of the biggest problems with rebooting superhero franchises is the near-constant need to retell the origins. While there were some divergences, both Raimi’s and Webb’s Spider-Man film series start out with the same basic origin and cast. Spidey, Aunt May, Ben Parker dying, etc., etc. We know what happens. Either start mid-arc, or don’t bother at this point. Miles Morales has a different background, different history, different origin, different coming-of-age tale — and it’s a really good one. Let’s tell that story.
3) He’s mixed race (black and Hispanic). This cannot and should not be underplayed in terms of importance. Marvel needs to diversify. It’s got Nick Fury as a sort of binding thread throughout its current universe, but he’s ultimately a supporting character. As is Sam Wilson/Falcon. As is Jim Rhodes/War Machine. As is… you get the point. And yes, we’ve got Black Panther coming up on us, which is great. But that character isn’t a well-known one (and it’s likely going to get pushed back to make way for the new Spider-Man films). A major character like Spider-Man is a good thing, despite the inevitable, tired cries of affirmative action or whatever stupid racist garbage people are likely spewing somewhere.
4) Miles Morales is just a great character. Bendis crafted an interesting, conflicted, but genuinely fun character who is often plagued with self-doubt due to some criminal elements in his family, but is also morally solid due to the other half. It’s less of the constant guilty nobility that plagued Peter Parker (although there’s a bit of that), and more just a kid who wants to do the right thing because it’s the right thing. But even more importantly, Miles speaks to an entirely new generation of kids — a mixed race kid who fights the good fight for all the right reasons, he has all the potential to be a powerful new voice in the films that are, for the most part, oh-so-very white as far as the main characters go.
Go back to the early issues of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man and read the panels where Miles sits through a NYC Charter School lottery — it’s some of the most poignant stuff I’ve ever seen in a comic book. That’s the kind of heart the character has, right from the get-go.
Like I said, it’s all speculation right now. But I’m all for it. Yes, it would likely require some retconning to make it work — it’s unlikely that they’ll kill off Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man — but it’s workable. It would be a terrific shot in the arm for Marvel, and for superhero films in general.
The world needs Miles Morales.