7/08/2015


Marvel is stupid for holding off using Miles Morales as Spider-Man. A few weeks ago it was announced that Tom Holland would play Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU). 19-year old Tom Holland wowed Marvel, but we were really hoping the studio would do something different with the character. Holland will show up in Captain America: Civil War before getting his own movie in 2017. He was introduced to great fanfare and the Internet responded: yawning. We're bored. While we love "old web-head", and want to see him with the Avengers, it's become boring. We hoped for Miles Morales. The character broke on the scene in the 2000 Ultimate alternate comic book universe. It was an attempt by Marvel to use the characters in a new way by restarting the origins of familiar characters and re-imagining them. Morales is a bi-racial Black and Latino teenager who takes over the role of Spider-Man from Peter Parker. He's gotten more prominence over the years and it would be exciting. 

Last week, Chris McKittrick at What Culture wrote an article called "8 Reasons Why Miles Morales Shouldn’t Be The Movie Spider-Man". It's a well written article, but he's dead wrong. He listed eight reasons they shouldn't use Miles Morales. But there are nine reasons Miles Morales SHOULD be the Marvel Universe Spider-Man.

Morales is not confusing, would be great for merchandising, would add much needed diversity and every fan of comic book movies should want Marvel to take risks like Miles Morales.

#9 - We Don't Need to See Peter Parker in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

There have been five Spider-Man movies with Peter Parker. Three were directed by Sam Raimi and the first movie is one of the greatest superhero movies of all time. Conversely, the third Raimi movie is one of the worst of all time. The Marc Webb films are another retelling of the character that did OK in the first film, but quickly did a nose dive in the second. The audience responded and the box office sales went from $403,706,375 for Spider-Man in 2002 to $202,853,933 for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in 2014.

There have been a bunch of portrayals and lots of things have been tried. We've seen Peter Parker played by two actors over 14 years. They've gone from organic web-shooters to mechanical web-shooters. Peter's gone from high school to college and back again. There's nothing much left to say.

Kevin Feige, head of "Marvel Studios," disagrees and thinks that having him interact with other superheroes will make the character new and fresh. "The one thing that hasn't been able to be explored in the other five movies is his relationship to the broader Marvel Universe and that's something that was exciting to us," Feige said. That might be true, but it would be better to take a fresh approach for the wall-crawler. Seeing Parker team up with the New Goblin in Spider-Man 3 didn't save that film. We don't need another tired tale of Peter Parker in the MCU, since we've seen it for years. It might be cool, but we need Miles.

#8 - Miles Morales Can Be on All the Merchandise


The next point the writer makes is that Miles Morales stuff would be confusing and kill Spider-Man merchandise. That's way off. Marvel and Disney make a ton of money on all the merchandise from the films. Every time a new movie comes out the stores are flooded with lunch boxes, t-shirts and action figures. Marvel makes billions on all that stuff and the biggest seller of them all is "Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man."  He made over $1 billion in retail sales last year.

For those that don't know, unlike the red and blue costume Peter Parker wears, Morales wears a black (dark blue really) costume with red piping. Would it be confusing for buyers to see the dark blue and red suit that Morales wears? Maybe, but should he wear the black suit at all? No spoilers, since it's a great read, but Morales starts out wearing the familiar red and blue suit. He decides it's in "bad taste" and switches to the new black suit. But, in the movies, Miles doesn't have to change the suit. He could wear the exact same suit Spider-Man does now. That means every Spider-Man juice box and breakfast cereal would stay the same.

Even if they did use his Ultimate suit for the movie merchandise, the movie toys are different now. Thor's costume is very different from the comic book version. For one thing, the classic Thor doesn't have a beard, but shoppers aren't confused by a bearded Thor action figure. Same thing with Captain America, Hawkeye, Ant-Man and Black Widow. People snap them up like candy.

You know what else Marvel does? They sell classic comic book merchandise right next to the movie versions. They have beach towels with all the Avengers and Spider-Man together even though that never happens in the movies. They could sell the black and red stuff right next to the blue and red stuff.

Miles could wear the classic costume or the Ultimate costume and it wouldn't make a difference. Marvel would still make billions off Spider-Man.

#7 - The Marvel Cinematic Universe Doesn't Use Iconic Versions of Characters


He also says that the MCU only uses the iconic versions of the comic book characters. This is garbage. The movies are almost completely based on the Ultimate version of the characters.

A lot of the characters were created in the 1960s, but it's the Ultimate re-interpretation of the characters Marvel uses for the movies. Besides the most obvious example of Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury, there are others. There's the storyline that S.H.I.E.L.D. created the Avengers instead of blind chance. The connection between the super-soldier serum and the Hulk. The fact that Thor has no alter-ego. Yes, even Fox is recognizing the importance of the Ultimate universe and based their new movie entirely on the Ultimate comic. It follows the comic storyline of teenagers experimenting with teleportation devices. The entire Marvel Cinematic Universe is based on the Ultimate comic books, so it's ridiculous not to base the movie web-slinger on the Ultimate comics.

#6 - Captain America: Civil War Doesn't Need Peter Parker


The writer then says that the upcoming Captain America movie Captain America: Civil War is based on the Civil War comic and they can't do the story without Peter Parker. This is just ignorant. Civil War is a 2006 Marvel Comics crossover storyline built around a seven-issue limited series. After the accidental death of school children the U.S. government requires all superheroes to give up their secret identities and register with the government. All the superheroes split into two factions with Iron man on the side of the registration and Captain America against it. I'm not spilling the story, but Peter Parker had a huge role in the story.

Does that mean Parker has a big role in the movie? No. For one thing the storyline is vastly different from the comic. Instead of the United States, the entire world calls for more controls of the superheroes. They're not calling for giving up secret identities though. Why? Because superheroes in the MCU don't have secret identities. From the very first Iron Man movie, when Stark outted himself as Iron Man, all the heroes are public. Everyone knows Black Widow is Natasha Romanoff. It's public knowledge that Thor is from Asgard. Banner is publicly known as the Hulk. There's no reason to register secret identities.

Captain America: Civil War is nothing like the comics, so there's no reason to have Parker. Plus, if this is his first appearance, his role in the story would have little impact. They might as well use Miles.

So, the movie had little to do with the comics and Parker isn't necessary for the story.

#5 - Morales’ Origin Doesn't Have to Involve Peter Parker


I'm not going get into why, but Miles Morales origin is deeply tied into Peter Parker. The writer speculated that they can't do a Miles Morales movie without Parker. But he's wrong.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has never been tied to the comic book origins. In the comics, Tony Stark was in Vietnam not the middle east. The Hulk movies don't use a "gamma bomb." Both Spider-Man movies didn't use a silly radioactive spider. The original comic books had a disabled guy named Donald Blake finding a magic hammer that turned him into Thor.

None of the movie origins are the same, so Miles could have a totally new origin or a slightly different one.

#4 - Morales is Well-Known Enough


The most popular character in the Ultimate comic universe is Morales. In fact, the sales of his comic were better than Spider-Man for a while. Plus Spider-Man is now Miles Morales in the mainstream Marvel comics and there's a reason why. Writer Brian Michael Bendis, one of the co-creators of Miles Morales, has four children. Two are adopted and of African descent. It gave him a new perspective. He broke down and cried when his daughter out on a Miles Morales mask and said "Look daddy, I’m Spider-Man!" Bendis said, "You realize from a first seat that your kids do not have the same representation and things available to them as I did. It's not like I stood up and said 'I'm going to be more diverse in my writing,' you just become more diverse because you realize things are needed." Diversity in superhero movies is needed now more than ever.

Even if most people don't know Miles how many people knew Iron Man before the movie? Most people had never heard of Thor. Don't even get me started on Ant-Man. The reality is that it doesn't matter. The popularity of those characters soared after the movies and the same would be true of Miles. In fact, his first appearance would have been in a major marvel film next year and the solo movie is two years from now. That's plenty of time for the character to get enough coverage.

Miles might not be well-known now, but you can bet he'd be well-known by the time the movie came out.

#3 - Marvel Comics Doesn't Have Big Plans For Him

For everyone disappointed by losing Miles for Spider Man we're supposed to take heart that he's coming around the corner and that's garbage.

The perfect time to introduce Miles is now. After five movies and diminishing box office returns the best time would have been today not next year. There will never be a better time. Feige told MTV they never even considered Miles Morales as the new Spider-Man. "I mean, we always felt it should be Peter [Parker] because we've never seen the MCU version of Peter Parker. We felt like we needed to see that first. Miles, I think is awesome. I think there are opportunities for him for sure if this all works." That's a very vague promise. They'll consider a Black Spider-Man if the White Spider-Man does well. Nice. But there's another promise Marvel's been making for years.

Last year, Feige was asked about the long awaited Black Widow movie and he said "I think the idea would be great. We’ve got various outlines and ideas of where to take that." But when the list of Marvel films were released going to 2019 there was no solo Black Widow movie. Fans have been asking for a Natasha Romanoff movie since Iron Man 2. Marvel has no plans to make one and they don't plan to make a Miles Morales movie either.

#2 - Morales Can't Be Introduced Later On


The article makes a last point that it would be better to introduce Miles Morales later on, but it's very unlikely. The idea that one day they could introduce multiple Spider-Man characters isn't new. It was brought up to studio executives before and they're answer shows the tone of the industry.

Last year, when Sony had a grand plan to create a shared universe, Playlist asked if Miles Morales ("Ultimate Spider-Man") or Miguel O'Hara ("Spider-Man 2099") were being considered for future Spider-Man movies. Producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach bluntly said "no" and then went on to explain. "The one thing you cannot do, when you have a phenomena that has stood the test of time, you have to be true to the real character inside – who is Peter Parker?" Arad said, "What are the biggest effects on his life? Then you can draw in time, and you can consider today's world in many ways. But to have multiple ones… I don't know if you remember, but Marvel tried it. And it was almost the end of Spider-Man." So, the studio is afraid of confusing the audience. They don't trust that we can handle another Spider-Man. Marvel thinks we're idiots.

If Peter Parker is successful in the MCU there's no way they'll weaken the brand by introducing a second Spider-Man. Miles needs to be the one and only Spider-Man or he won't get the attention he deserves.

Look at James Rhodes, known as War Machine. In the comics, he stands in his own as a powerful superhero who blazes his own trail. In the movies, he's the backup Iron Man coming in to fill in when Stark isn't available. Miles Morales will end up as the backup if he's not the definitive Spider-Man

#1 - Marvel is Scared

You might be thinking this is all about hippy PC tokenism but you're wrong. This is about more than just having a Black superhero. Think about it.

Why would Marvel ignore legions of fans hoping for a Black Widow or Miles Morales movie? They're scared. The studio is afraid of confusing the audience. They don't trust that we can handle another Spider-Man. Internal emails by Sony indicate that they required him to be Caucasian. Feige told MTV they never even considered Miles Morales as the new Spider-Man. But, even the actors on the films wanted Miles Morales.

Andrew Garfield, who played Spider-Man in two movies, said it was a great idea. He told Comic Book Resources, "I think one of the amazing things about Spider-Man is that you don't see skin color when he's in the suit. You don't see any religious beliefs. You don't see any denominations. ... Miles Morales was a huge moment in this character's comic book life. And I do believe that we can do that. It's something I'm really interested in figuring out; an eloquent way of coexisting, or passing on the torch."

Even Kevin Feige compared Peter Parker to Miles Morales by saying, "To go back to those Stan Lee, Steve Ditko origin tales of having him be younger and that dichotomy with dealing with the rest, and also in Brian Michael Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man. That the younger he was, the more truer he was to the original Spider-Man comic book stories and also the more unique and different he would be in comparison to the other Marvel heroes." If they want him to be "like" Ultimate Spider-Man then why not just use Ultimate Spider-Man?

Fans have been doing everything they can think of to get a Black Widow movie. When the upcoming Spider-Man movie was announced fans begged and pleaded for Miles Morales to be the next Spider-Man. But Marvel hasn't listened. Why? Because they're terrified. They're scared of losing control and not playing it safe. It's a formula that works. But at what cost? It reportedly got Edgar Wright kicked off directing Ant-Man. It led to Joss Whedon almost quitting Avengers and swearing off directing Marvel films. But it wasn't always that way.

Back in 2005, Marvel took a risk and announced they were forming their own movie studio. In 2008 they took a risk and made a movie about one of the least known superheroes of all time: Iron Man. Then they cast Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, who was known for substance abuse problems and at a low point in his career. In 2011, they made Thor, a movie about a flying god who carries a big hammer and wears a cape. It's those risks that have made Marvel great.

The other thing that makes Marvel great is they listen to fans. Listening to all fans and not just the largest demographic. What happens if the demographic shifts and the focus is on 16-year old white males? What happens then? No Punisher that's for sure. He's too violent. Maybe cast a bunch of teenagers and put them all in high school. The point is that if Marvel stops listening to everyone then the studio will lose. Right now they're not listening to those who want more diversity. That might not be you now but your voice could be next.

The time is right for a Miles Morales movie. The public want him, the actors want him and he's getting more popular by the day. But if Marvel let's this golden opportunity pass them by, then they only have themselves to blame if fans stop buying tickets to the 50th reboot of Peter Parker the spectacular Spider-Man.




What do you think of having Miles Morales be the next Spider-Man? Do you think the arguments against it make sense?
 

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4 comments:

Pat Dilloway said...

It was really boring when they announced they were keeping Peter Parker. It's funny that the comic books have been having success by adding more diverse characters and yet the movies are still too scared to try it.

DAVID WALSTON said...

#1 is the main reason.
If DC ever gets to another Batman they need to do Terry McGinnis.

MsMariah@ASpaceBlogyssey.com said...

Yes, I think Marvel is scared and I think they want to maintain the status quo. Same reason they won't give us a Widow film. They don't think it's marketable, which is furthest from the truth. With the changing demographics in this country they should start trying to include more diversity into their catalog. I hate to say it, but if they make a Miles Morales Spider-Man it won't be b/c the Holland Spider-Man does well. It will be because it goes down in flames. I personally think there is so much Spider-Man fatigue that it just might. It will be the 3rd Spider-Man reboot in 15 years. Those Sony email hacks revealed the truth of the matter.

Maurice Mitchell said...

It is funny that there's so much emphasis on diversity in Marvel comics but the movies barely scratch the surface of what's possible.

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