Why Disney Should Part with Parker, Move on to Morales for Spider-Man Reboot

Miles_Morales_1_CoverFor many Marvel fans, movie fans, and Marvel movie fans, the news that Spider-Man would be coming to the Cinematic Universe was amazing. Unfortunately it’s news that also comes with the dread of potential having to watch the origin story of a dude getting bit by a spider for the third time in 15 years. Whether you preferred McGuire, Garfield, or even Emo McGuire from Spiderman 3, I think we can all agree that moving on with a new actor in the role is best for everyone. And while we’re at it, why not replace Peter Parker all together? I argue that it’s time to move on from Uncle Ben and Aunt May and give the power and responsibility to a new Spidey: Miles Morales.

Donald 4 Spider-Man: The Beginning

We might not even be having this conversation if it weren’t for a rapper. Such a phrase is usually reserved for Congressional hearings on parental advisory stickers or conversations on the artistic merits of Beck, but it also applies to the history of Marvel’s Miles Morales.

In 2010, actor/rapper Donald Glover/Childish Gambino half-jokingly started campaigning for the role that eventually went to Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man. Glover had his fans tweet with the hashtag #donald4spiderman. Though it was unsuccessful, the movement garnered a surprising amount conversation beyond what Glover could have anticipated and even lead to heated debates on race (because everything on the internet does).

At the time, Glover was starring on NBC’s cult-hit show Community. In a clever nod to campaign, the show opened its second season that partially featured Glover in Spider-Man pajamas — a cute joke that ended the whole thing, right? Nope.

A year later Marvel introduced Miles Morales — a teen from African-American and Hispanic decent — into the comic book world. This could have easily been chalked up to coincidence, and part of it was. Apparently the idea for a new Spider-Man first came out following the election of President Barack Obama in 2008. However, comic writer Brian Michael Bendis admits to seeing that Community opening and thinking, “I would like to read that book.”

Morales was introduced Ultimate Fallout #4 in 2011 and continued in his own series Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man that same year.

The Word of the Day is “Diversity”

The diversity of the Walt Disney Company has often been questioned, from its princess line up to its executives. One should only look as far as ABC’s slate of new shows this season (Black-ish, CristelaFresh off the Boat) to realize that the company does make strides to correct this. Similarly, when Marvel announced their Phase Three films for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, many noted that both Black Panther and Captain Marvel (a female, Carol Danvers) were included. As a result it only seems logical that company would want to continue down that path when casting the new Spider-Man, though, ultimately, the deal gives Sony the final say on the creative direction.

This is where many argue that now is the perfect time to cast Glover, whether as Peter Parker, Miles Morales, or otherwise, but I don’t quite see it that way. As diverse as ABC’s current line-up is, more so is Glover’s workload. The actor/musician has been plenty busy with his rap career as Childish Gambino after leaving Community a few episodes into the show’s fifth season. Gambino has been touring, recording, and was even nominated for two Grammy Awards at this year’s ceremony. Admittedly, this hasn’t stopped him from appearing in Disney’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and, incidentally, accepting the role of none other than Miles Morales on Disney XD’s Ultimate Spider-Man. However, given the multi-picture deals the MCU is known for, I’d fear that Glover’s other passions might lead to problems down the road should he get the role.

What Happens to Peter Parker?

Spoiler alert: in the Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man series, Miles Morales takes on the role following the death of Peter Parker. This is somewhat problematic from a movie stand point, given that they would have to kill off a newly recast character only to hand off his job. Of course, there’s complications on the other side as well.

As many fans have already pointed out, bringing Peter Parker into the MCU now begs a number of questions. For example, where was the native New Yorker vigilante while his entire city was being taken over by aliens? Did we just miss him swinging around because we were watching Loki get beat into the ground by Hulk? Alright, so that’s kind of a stretch, but it is worth thinking about.

Marvel has had great success thus far by putting storylines on screen that fans know and love but changing them enough to fit into their contractual parameters or unfold the story in a more movie-going-public-friendly fashion. The way I see it, Marvel can fudge Morales’ backstory and even tell it through flashbacks.

Picture this: S.H.I.E.L.D. starts to take notice of a web-slinging superhero who swings through the night in a black suit. But how could this be, given the passing of Peter Parker some years ago before the Battle of New York? Flashbacks to the heyday of Parker as Nick Fury tells some newbie agent the tale that spans his origins through his eventual demise. Five minutes of screen time, backstory told.

Of course the team, the agents, or whoever catches up with Morales and whatever story they want to tell can unfold. Since his radio active arachnid story isn’t that far off from Parker’s, I think it’s safe to assume the same public that embraced a talking tree last summer will be able to do the math.

Miles_Morales_1_Staples_VariantBut Will They?

This is the real argument. As much as I think that Disney and Sony should switch to Miles Morales when they introduce Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, part of me wonders if that may be a little far fetched.

In a way, introducing the non-comic-reading world to a new set of characters is far less challenging then trying to wrap their heads around a new character they don’t know taking over for one as iconic as Spider-Man. It may be a challenge, but sticking with the status quo could actually be more detrimental.

The reason Sony is even allowing this deal is because of the diminishing returns they’ve seen from Spidey in the past few years. While the character’s popularity certainly isn’t in question, the franchise fatigue that public has voiced makes it clear that a change is needed.

Marvel’s new Spider-Man needs to stand apart from the last five films he appeared in. If it were DC at the helm, you could bet we’d have a dark and deadly serious version of the character in the works. But for Marvel the best way to change things up is to introduce the world to Miles Morales: Spider-Man.