Sony and Marvel made a big deal last night in agreeing to share Spider-Man and thus produce Spider-Man movies in both houses. They kind of had to do this, comic book fans know that both studios are printing money at this point, so excuses weren’t really cutting it. While everyone is pretty excited about the announcement, it did create just as many questions as answers for the web-slinger and the interpretations of him. If Andrew Garfield is truly out (which I personally am saddened by), then who will be cracking jokes next to Tony Stark in this new Marvel movie universe? Marvel already has a solo movie planned for Spider-Man (which pushed back two of the three most anticipated films for me in Black Panther and Captain Marvel…cough…), but when does Spider-Man enter the MCU? Is it too late for him to see time in Captain America: Civil War (the flick everyone wants to see Spider-Man in)? Do we have to wait for Infinity Wars? Does anyone even care what the hell Sony will do with their Spider-Man??? Actually, yes, I do. But I care for one very specific reason. It’s time to cast Miles Morales as the next Spider-Man. It’s been past time, but now is the perfect time.
One of the issues that supposedly held up this deal from happening sooner (besides the Sony leak that made it more than just speculation) was that Sony was worried about the continuity of it’s Spider-Man films if they had Spider-Man swinging around Marvel as well. Besides the obvious, “Bruh, don’t nobody give a damn about Sony’s continuity” rebuttal, the easiest solution to this is to have a separate Spider-Man altogether. Now there might be folks that are like “separate Spider-Man? What the hell, Will?!?” But the reality is that thanks to the Ultimate Universe (as we pour out some liquor for it’s impending end), Spider-Man is not Highlander. There can be more than one. The easiest way to not mess with Peter Parker’s continuity between two universes is to park him in one (Marvel’s) and introduce Miles in the other (Sony). Now, I say that like it’s easy, but it isn’t. Peter Parker is tough to part with if you’re doing the math for Sony. The longevity, history and likeability of the character isn’t the kind of star power you trade away for 50 cents on the dollar.
But for lack of a better analogy, Miles is the full dollar. If it weren’t for the phenomenon that is Kamala Khan in the still newish Ms. Marvel series, you could still say that Miles Morales is the most popular comic book character that’s been introduced as brand new in the last 5 years. He’s very different from Parker and yet, shares enough similarities that people that are not familiar with him but fans of Spider-Man will feel comfortable with that transition. But why Sony and not Marvel? I know plenty of people have been saying they want to see Miles in Marvel’s movies (and I wouldn’t mind that either), but there are some very specific Peter Parker stories that can be woven into the upcoming Marvel films. The likes of which created the fervor to get Spider-Man back over to Marvel in the first place. As far as source material, Miles has no real interaction with the version of the heroes in Marvel’s present chronology. Could it work? Yes. Do we still need Peter Parker? Yeah, I think we do.
This really does make the most sense for Sony. A new actor playing Peter Parker would mean, possibly having to do yet another Peter Parker origin story. Or they could act like Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man is the same character as a new actor as they continue with the following Spidey flicks. Both would be weird. With Miles, you have to tell an origin story again, but admittedly, Brian Michael Bendis’ story of Miles is a quick starter, one that centers on the immediate threat of his uncle as the villain. The difference being, we don’t have to see Spider-Man get bit, learn his powers, be recognized on some higher level in the city and then take on a bad guy he knew nothing about two weeks earlier. That’s if they went with the first arc in Miles’ story where he battles his Uncle Aaron, the Prowler. And yes, they should absolutely do that.
And yes, let’s address the elephant in the room. Marvel’s movies, for all the great things they are doing, are still mostly white dudes running shit and adding Peter Parker to that mix doesn’t change any of that. They could cast Peter Parker with a person of color in Marvel’s movies…but do we believe they are going to piss off the fanboys and do that when there is another option out there? So if the we’re taking bets, I’m guessing Peter Parker will be played by a white actor and I’m not railing against that…this time. But the perspective is that it will still leave the hero slate mostly monochromatic. Add that to the fact that Parker’s arrival just pushed back the individual films of a Woman superhero and a Black superhero (and Thor to be fair, but he’s got two films already, so…). If Sony decides to tell Miles’ story (as Bendis wrote it), you get a POC for your protagonist, antagonist, secondary antagonist (Scorpion from Mexico), a POC best friend to Miles in Ganke (AAPI) and of course, Miles’ Black father and Latina mother. Come on Sony, what are we TALKING ABOUT here? Not to mention that Sony has already said they plan to cast a woman protagonist for the Spider-Man franchise. Ultimate Universe Jessica Drew aka Spider-Woman, who served as a mentor to Miles would fit perfectly into that narrative. Sony, I’m doing your job for you here.
Now, who do we cast for Miles? That’s tough. Miles in the comics is even younger than Parker was in most cases. And while moving the timeline a few years up usually doesn’t make too much of a difference in movies, Miles awkward adolescence plays largely into his character and the development of the plot. I know he’s an easy choice, but I’m personally out on Donald Glover. Three years ago, he would’ve been my front runner. Now, he feels a little convenient, a little too accomodating and frankly, a dude that takes himself a lot more seriously than he used to. Let’s get more imaginative than that.
If you cast Miles, I think casting someone that isn’t some huge household name actually works for you, as for many viewers, he’s still coming out of nowhere. Off the top, I’d love to see a young cat like Justin Martin (Flight, The Express), Brandon Smith (Get on Up) or my personal favorite Tristan Wilds (The Wire and Red Tails) get a shot.
Bottom line is this, if Sony casts Miles, it’s wins across the board for them. Now that they’ve inked a deal with Marvel, if they want to continue to use Peter Parker, they are creating their own continuity problems. The stars have aligned for this one, so there really isn’t any reason they can’t do this. Unless there was some other reason Sony doesn’t want to cast Miles Morales to headline their movie…