These days, it seems as every movie released is about superheroes. Since Marvel enacted their massive plan for the MCU, audiences can easily expect three or four movies a year. Maybe even five, depending on how DC decides to compete. Unfortunately, most of these movies focus on the same few heroes who generally fit the same criteria: male and white. However, film companies are expressing a burgeoning interest in including more diverse characters on the big screen. The next character on deck? Miles Morales.

Back in 2014, Sony announced they were creating a Spider-Man animated film. However, it wasn’t until 2017 that the company revealed the film would be focusing on Miles Morales, titled SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE. A teaser trailer released in December 2017 debuted gorgeous animation and Miles (voiced by Shameik Moore) haphazardly swinging around the city in all of his glory.

Miles Morales is a thirteen-year-old who got bitten by a (different) radioactive spider. A mixed-race kid of African-American and Hispanic descent living in New York City, at first Miles doesn’t want to be a hero. I mean, can you blame him? His version of puberty meant he could start climbing on walls and paralyzing people with just a touch of his fingers. But after the death of Peter Parker, Miles takes up the mantle, swinging in to save the city from villains.

miles morales
You can’t tell me this doesn’t look awesome.

A Little History

Miles Morales swung into the comic book scene in 2011. Created by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli, Miles first appeared in the limited series ULTIMATE FALLOUT #4. The series handles the aftermath in the wake of ULTIMATE universe Peter Parker’s death. A new masked vigilante whisks around the city in Peter’s old costume, until several citizens express their distaste for the poor timing of the situation. When the vigilante unmasks, readers everywhere got to see Miles Morales for the first time.

Ultimate Fallout #4
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

When ULTIMATE universe Peter Parker comes back to life, he officially gives his blessing (after, of course, a brief altercation) to Miles to continue on as Spidey and bequeaths his web-shooters. Beyond the web-slinging, though, Miles totes a slightly different set of powers. In addition to the classic enhanced agility and strength, Miles can camouflage himself and zap his enemies with venom blast that can be performed with just a touch, or manipulated like electrified webbing.

SPIDER-MEN: Miles Morales and the Spider-Man Legacy

Until 2015, Miles lived in an alternate Earth, separated from his mainstream predecessor. At the beginning of the “Secret Wars” storyline, Miles’ Earth collided with the mainstream Earth-616. “Secret Wars” ended with Miles and his supporting cast of characters in the mainstream continuity. Despite having no initial memory of their ULTIMATE origins, Miles eventually learns the truth.

What Miles Morales’ Story Could Have Been, or SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

The deal between Marvel and Sony to include Spider-Man in the MCU has been long awaited. In July 2017, the franchise saw its third reboot in fifteen years. While SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING was a great movie, revitalizing the character, I can’t help but see it as a missed opportunity for Miles.

HOMECOMING borrows many elements from Miles’ comic book run. The creation of Peter Parker’s new best friend, Ned Leeds, is the most obvious of them. Ned is almost entirely modeled off of Miles’ right-hand man, Ganke Lee. Ganke learns of Miles’ identity fairly early, acts as a confidant, and helps Miles create his supply of web fluid. In addition to this, Ganke harbors a deep love of legos. With creating web fluid as the only exception, Ned possesses all of these qualities.

Miles and Ganke

Don’t get me wrong, I loved Ned and Tom Holland’s Peter Parker. I just wish Ganke and Miles got a chance to exist first. There’s still hope, though, for Miles to make an MCU appearance. His uncle, Aaron Davis, made a brief cameo in HOMECOMING, mentioning a nephew who lived in the area.

Finding Representation

Miles Morales is the first black Spider-Man but not the first Latino web-slinger — that honor goes to Miguel O’Hara, a.k.a Spider-Man: 2099. Comic books have a long history of idolizing white men as heroes. Their film adaptations have primarily followed suit, until now; CAPTAIN MARVEL (2019) will be the first female-led superhero movie by Marvel. BLACK PANTHER (2018) is the first superhero movie to feature a predominantly black cast.

MILES MORALES: A SPIDER-MAN NOVEL: A Spider’s Heart

With television and film (finally!) making a move to a more diverse territory, this is a perfect time for Miles to make his big screen debut. It’s important to have representation, but it’s even more important to have good representation. Miles’ solo run SPIDER-MAN acknowledges this need and subsequently, Miles’ discomfort with being known as “the black Spider-Man.” Miles’ introduction to the film industry has potential to establish him as a role model for superhero fans everywhere. Not just “black Spider-man.”

Miles has made appearances on the DisneyXD show ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN and SPIDER-MAN, though never explicitly as Spider-Man himself. Donald Glover voiced Miles in the show after campaigning in 2012 to be cast as Spider-Man in the upcoming live-action film. Glover and former president Barack Obama both served as primary inspirations for Miles’ character and appearance.

What Could SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE Be About?

Miles Morales has a plethora of exciting storylines to pick from. As evident from the title, it’s clear that this animated film will focus on the Spider-Verse plot. This has the potential to bring in other Spider-people, like Spider-Gwen and Spider-Man: 2099. However, beyond that, Miles’ relationships with his family are much more actively integral to his storyline than Peter Parker’s.

A radioactive spider bites Miles during a visit to his uncle Aaron’s apartment. One of Miles’ first true villains is his uncle, who takes on the alter-ego of the Prowler. It’s interesting to see how the movie will integrate these aspects of Miles’ character without treading down the Uncle Ben path. After all, it’s more accurate to say that Peter Parker functions as Miles’ Uncle Ben figure than anyone in his family.

Spider-Man team up in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN
Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Spider-Gwen, and Spider-Man (Miles Morales) team up in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN

The recently released teaser trailer for the film featured a costumed Miles visiting the grave of Peter Parker. In the end, Miles asks a shadowed figure in a subway station, “So, how many of us are there?”

This figure is pretty much guaranteed to be an older Peter from a different universe. In the SPIDER-MEN comic, Miles and mainstream Peter team up and beat up a whole bunch of bad guys. Now that Miles is in the mainstream continuity, too, his relationship with Peter Parker has taken on a Jedi-padawan feel.

I know I’m looking forward to the film. What fan wouldn’t be excited for a chance to see one of their favorite characters on screen for the first time? Here’s to hoping this will lead to a starring role in a live-action film, too!

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