The recent news that a deal between Sony and Marvel Studios has been reached that would allow Spider-Man to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as the news that Andrew Garfield will not be returning to the franchise, has led to a flurry of speculation as to what direction Marvel will take the character, who will play him, and more specifically, which Spider-Man will it be? Will it be Peter Parker, the classic, long-running character that has been the face of Marvel Comics since the 1960’s?
Or will it be Miles Morales from Marvel’s Ultimate Comics, who replaced the teenage Peter Parker after that character’s death(and whom has since been brought back to life) to become the new Spider-Man of the Ultimate Comics universe?
While there have been many arguments made supporting Miles Morales’ introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe pointing out the need for greater ethnic diversity in comic book cinema, it is highly unlikely that Marvel Studios would go that route. Yes, it would be a good idea for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to reflect a more diverse society rather than have an all-white, all-male lineup of superheroes, and with the announcement of upcoming Marvel film projects like Black Panther and Captain Marvel it seems that Marvel is ready to expand its cinematic universe to include non-white superheroes as well as more female superheroes, which is a good sign.
However, including Miles Morales in place of Peter Parker so early in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s development would be unwise for a number of reasons.
First, there is the lack of familiarity on the part of the mainstream audience with Miles Morales’ character. While Miles has become a popular character among fans of Marvel’s Ultimate Comics universe, he is still unknown to moviegoers not familiar with the comics. Marvel Studios is not only dealing with an audience who has associated Spider-Man with Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, but who are far more familiar with the Peter Parker character being the face of Spider-Man.
It is likely that Marvel will want the character’s first appearance in the MCU to be in a way that is more compatible with audience expectations rather than throwing the audience a curve-ball. After the disappointing performance of Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 last year may make Marvel decide to not take any chances on further alienating the movie fan base (Movie got $700 million, but the critical review was barely over 50% on Rotten Tomatoes).
Second, there has been no indication that Marvel is interested in using Miles Morales in the MCU given the recent actors being mentioned as candidates for the role. While Miles Morales supporters have pushed for actor Donald Glover to play the character(who was also partially responsible for inspiring Marvel writer Brian Bendis to create the character), the only actors who have so far been mentioned as possible contenders have all been Caucasian.
Dylan O’Brian of TV’s ‘Teen Wolf’ series and Logan Lerman of the ‘Percy Jackson’ films have both been rumored to be front-runners for the role of Peter Parker. More recently, ‘Bates Motel’ Freddie Highmore has also expressed interest in the role.
Third, there is the context of the character’s introduction into the MCU to be considered. Marvel has announced that they intend to introduce Spider-Man into the MCU as a high school teenager once again, bypassing his origin story and jumping right into the character’s life as a superhero – although it would be refreshing to see the character finally portrayed as an adult, since Peter Parker hasn’t been a teenager in the comics since the 1970’s. Marvel has also announced that Spider-Man will be introduced in the upcoming ‘Captain America: Civil War’ movie before branching out into his own movie, which presents a problem for Miles Morales supporters.
Thematically, Miles doesn’t fit into the Civil War storyline, as that comic book event took place in the regular Marvel Comics universe, not the Ultimate Comics universe. Peter Parker didn’t just appear in the Civil War storyline in the comics, he was a central figure in it.
In a storyline that was a metaphor for a post-911, post-Patriot Act America, Peter became trapped in the middle of an ideological tug-of-war between Tony Stark(Iron Man) and Steve Rogers(Captain America). Peter had gone to work for Stark, who took Peter under his wing and promised to help him finally pursue his scientific career and reach his goals as a scientist. Stark also became a mentor to Peter, as well as designing his “Iron-Spider” armor for him, which made Peter, Stark’s protégé.
When Stark backed the Superhuman Registration Act following a tragic incident where several schoolchildren were killed during an altercation, which ultimately turned public opinion against superheroes, Peter Parker initially agreed with Tony’s stance. However, fearing that such a law would not only violate the civil rights of super-humans, as well as divide the superhero community in half, Captain America refused to cooperate and made himself an outlaw, fighting not only against his superiors in S.H.I.E.L.D., but also some of his teammates on The Avengers who supported the law.
Peter Parker began to face a moral dilemma as sides were chosen, with half of the Avengers siding with Iron Man in support of the new law, while the other half sided with Captain America in opposition to it. Peter felt a great deal of loyalty to Stark, who had given him so much support in pursuing his career in science. He even revealed his true identity on national television as a show of support for the new law, even though it put his loved ones in danger.
But as time went on, Peter found the methods used by the government in enforcing the Superhuman Registration Act – which required all superhuman individuals to register on a national database or face penalties and possible incarceration – to conflict with his own ethics and moral code. Peter also felt uneasy about the conflict that had erupted between the heroes who sided with Iron Man and those who sided with Captain America. It was ultimately the death of a fellow superhero at the hands of Iron Man’s team and a heart-to-heart conversation with Captain America about the nature of liberty and moral responsibility that led to Peter’s betrayal of Stark and his defection to Captain America’s side.
Peter Parker is so steeped in the Civil War storyline that it would be inconceivable to replace him with Miles Morales in it. While it is true that Marvel Studios has occasionally deviated from Marvel canon(such as the elimination of Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne from the Avengers and the Ultron storyline), it still seems unlikely that they would remove Peter Parker from a storyline where he played such an integral role with a character like Miles Morales, who would simply not fit into that storyline. F
Finally, there is the timing of Spider-Man’s introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Having Spider-Man in the MCU has long been a goal of Marvel Studios for several years, and although their deal with Sony doesn’t exactly give them back full ownership of the character, it is unlikely that Marvel would’ve gone to all that time and effort to get the character of Spider-Man back to not use Peter Parker who is the original and most known Spider-man.
Now, there is the fact that by 2016, the Ultimate Comics universe will no longer exist, as it and the regular Marvel universe will merge into one continuity following the new “Secret Wars” storyline. It has been speculated that Miles Morales will cross over to the regular Marvel universe where he will co-exist with the adult Peter Parker from the canonical continuity.
So while it is possible that Miles Morales’ Spider-Man may one day appear in the MCU in addition to Peter Parker’s Spider-Man, it is highly doubtful that Marvel Studios will ever replace Peter Parker with Miles Morales or anyone else for that matter so long as Peter Parker still exists as Spider-Man in the comics.