Marvel’s Next Cinematic Spider-Man Should Be A Black Guy

Marvel’s Next Cinematic Spider-Man Should Be A Black Guy

Here’s how Marvel should introduce Peter Parker to the Marvel Cinematic Universe: by killing him off.

They have done it in the comics. And that development in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe resulted in one of the freshest narrative branches of its Spider-Man mythos, the introduction of Miles Morales, a Black and Latino teenager who becomes an all-new wall-crawler. His turn as Spidey has felt surprising and modern. Shake your head if you want. But using the Miles Morales storyline to herald the arrival of Spider-Man to Marvel’s on-screen universe makes a whole lot of sense.

First, an explanation for those who aren’t up to speed: Marvel has multiple realities in its superhero ecosystem, with two dimensions that are more important than the rest. The mainline universe is known as Earth-616, where the longest-running versions of the Hulk, Thor and Iron Man reside. This is the one older fans grew up reading. The Ultimate Universe, which debuted in 2000, is filled with updated takes of superheroes where the origins of the Avengers and various other characters are slightly different.

In one of the Ultimate imprint’s major storylines, Peter Parker died in 2011 while protecting his loved ones from archenemy Norman Osborn, who also goes by the Green Goblin. Inspired by Parker’s superheroic career — and given similar powers by another Osborn-prduced genetically altered spider — Black and Latino teenager Miles Morales eventually takes up the mantle of Spider-Man. He first wears a suit that looks just like Peter’s but later gets an all-new version that symbolises his acceptance into the larger superhero community. He’s still a freshman superhero but one who’s proven he has the heart to run with the big boys.

If the powers-that-be actually bring Miles into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they get a Spider-Man who feels unsure and untested, a perfect viewpoint character to invigorate the wonder of the superhero spectacles they have been staging on a yearly basis. Killing off Peter Parker is a way to make a symbolic break with the previous Spidey movies that Marvel didn’t have a hand in producing. It lets them say that a wall-crawler was around, one who already faced Doc Ock, two different Green Goblins, Venom, Sandman, Rhino and Electro — and then wipe the slate clean for a new iteration. And that new iteration should be Miles Morales. His origin hits the same ‘power & responsibility’ beats as Peter’s, with maybe a smidge less guilt. Moving to Miles also gives Marvel the opportunity to use different villains, one of whom has a natural — and not retconned — connection to the newest Spider-Man.

We’ve already seen two iterations of Peter Parker’s origins on movie screens, after all, preceded by live-action TV and cartoon versions. We don’t need a third. And using Miles as the new movie version of Spider-Man gives Marvel the chance to make an incredibly bold move. If the very existence of the Miles Morales Spider-Man represents a commitment to diversifying their superhero population — which, it needs to be said, isn’t quite as good as giving more work to creators of different backgrounds or creating all-new characters instead of successors — then Marvel should follow that commitment through to the highest possible level. Don’t leave him gated off in the comics (yes, I know he’s appeared in the current cartoon, voiced by Donald Glover) where the number of people who can see him are exponentially less than the audience for a major movie.

Changing the face of the on-screen Spider-Man from white to brown probably won’t happen, thanks in larger part to good old-fashioned Hollywood cowardice. Given the million-dollar risk and outsized egos involved, the pact that finally reunites Spider-Man with his fellow heroes onscreen will likely be too fragile to withstand the kind of vitriol that came with Miles’ comic-book debut. “He’s not our Spider-Man,” haters shouted four years ago, similar to the racist nonsense that flared up around a fan campaign to get Glover to star in the rebooted Spider-Man film franchise. (That campaign has started up again since last night.) In the years since, Marvel’s responded by saying that Miles is in fact their Spider-Man, as real and valid as Peter Parker. There doesn’t need to be just one Spider-Man. It’d be great to see their commitment to Miles — and the fans who look like him — extend to an even bigger stage.


  • I assume they don’t pay by the word at Kotaku. Also Miles Morales is half black half Latino.

  • Fantastic article. So many great points, the writer took me on a journey through the negatives and positives. Would share, but I feel people need to discover this marvel on their own…

  • No it should be Peter Parker and then later on transition to Miles Morales. Otherwise the effect and reason is totally lost.

    • Not up on miles morales. Will he be some kid who comes to spidey’s aid, is critically injured, and needs a spidey transfusion to live. Or peter donated blood before he ever knew he was spidey and a random recipient recieved it.

    • Yep, this is the way to do it. Also I’m not sure how well a new Spiderman movie without Peter Parker would do out of the gate.

    • nah I think as a reboot they can do whatever they want with it. been proved twice in the last 15 years that they can have spiderman’s origin be pretty much whatever and his powers be pretty much whatever, why not change the actual dude to pretty much whomever?

      Plus Miles Morales has his own story, it’s linked but not really caused by peter parker. And even then it would be so easy to write in that parker’s spiderman had already died in the mcu.

    • They can actually have a short intro talking about Peter Parker, referencing any of the previous movies and then move onto Miles. It actually kind of worked for the second Hulk movie, which while not being exactly a sequel of the first, took advantage of its existence to skip the whole origin story.

    • What exactly makes it lazy? There’s quite a lot of text and I’ve seen “articles” which are basically retweets of youtube clips. Not disagreeing, just curious about your assessment.

      • Not just fat, obese to the point of needing a Rascal to get around.

        Also with a severe stutter.

        Also she’s a lawyer hired to defend a man falsely accused of rape but the whole town is against him because of his religion.

        Also she’s a single mother struggling with the balance between her career and spending enough time with her child.

        Also her estranged mother is dying of a rare form of cancer and she’s trying to come to terms with the reasons for their estrangement before she passes.

        Also the entire movie is an Oscar bait courtroom drama directed by Ron Howard.

        • After giving birth to her daughter she then has a sex change resulting from complications during birth, joins a time travel program, goes back in time to when she was a teenager, and impregnates herself. This starts a paradox loop where she gives birth to herself.

  • Great logic and reasoning in this article..

    Seriously though I’d like Miles Morales but that’d mean another Spider-man origin story (the general public have nfi who he is).

    With him appearing first in Civil War (before his next solo film) I really doubt it’d be Miles. That’d be so confusing for non comic fans – Unless they kept his identity a secret until the solo one or something…

    • I’m a bit apprehensive about Spidey in Civil War. With Black Panther in there already, I’d much prefer it be an introduction to HIS character rather than Spidey’s (suffering from a bit of spidey fatigue here lol). I just don’t want it to become bloated, and have 2 diluted character intros, rather than 1 strong one.

      I hope they can pull off whatever they have planned.

      • This’ll probably work better tbh. The Avengers has NO secret identity characters yet. None. Spidey will be the first one. So with them both present, local and internation ‘secret identity’ superheros, the point can be made stronger.

      • Man, speaking of Black Panther, I hope that Marvel, or rather Disney, manages to pull it’s weight again and they manage to get Storm and maybe Wolverine for his movie.

        • that’d be another headache as the xmen (aside from red witch and quicksilver) fall under 20th century fox’s cinematic umbrella

        • Overlooking the fact that Fox would never willingly give up any rights to any profitable franchises they have, why on Earth would you put Storm back with Black Panther? Terrible idea done by a terrible writer that meant Storm went from being a leader of the X-Men to playing second fiddle to BP.

  • Wasn’t Childish Gambino aka Donald Glover rumoured to be talking about the role of a Black Spidey?

    • He expressed interest back around the time of the previous reboot, but nothing came of it. He did, however, voice Miles Morales in one of the Spider-Man animated series, with some clever nods to his character in Community (which in turn had clever nods to his desire to play Spider-Man in the films).

  • Not in response so much to this article but the calls I’ve seen on social media for Donald Glover to play specifically Peter Parker: I remember when a superhero could just be the way they were in comics, and there’d be no equality-driven handwringing from the hard left in response.

    I’m not against legacies being undertaken by different people, let’s get that clear. The likes of Miles Morales and Kamala Khan prove that if someone takes the mantle of an established name, if the product is still good people can take to it well. But when people bandy about the possibility of taking an established character and arbitrarily making them someone else, I’ve got to ask why.

      • Because nothing says “We’re forward thinking and progressive” like “We have no faith in the drawing power of the minority superheroes we’ve created, so we’re taking one of our white ones, making him up in blackface and hoping all the hand wringers don’t notice”.

        • How can they possibly hope that “no one notices”? Spidey is arguably the most popular Marvel hero. They are not trying to be subtle, they are trying to make a point.

          • I doubt that’ll happen. Unlike Sony, Fox seems to be fairly profitable and its recent X-Men films have done pretty well. What incentive do they have to give control back to Disney?

    • Whilst this is one of those arbitrary articles that just call people who choose white actors “cowards” (again, assuming and extending their knowledge of the production process far beyond their comprehension), the character change is not just a call from the hard left as generally opinions aren’t solely held by those different from you no matter how hard you want it to be true or how much easier that makes dissent. No, Miles Morales is a highly acclaimed, legit character from the Spiderman universe. It’s not changing a character because never was this character Peter Parker.

      When people complain about an arbitrary change and ask why, I’ll ask why skin color makes things so different they can’t enjoy the story. It doesn’t, skin color doesn’t matter to a lot of people but it obviously does to you.

      • It’s like you haven’t read my comment at all. What I was responding to, as the comment explicitly says in its first sentence, was the call for Donald Glover to specifically play Peter Parker. This comment was made when the body of the article was empty; I even explicitly said that legacy characters like Miles Morales are great.

        But here comes the question that never gets an answer: if skin colour on fictional characters matters so little, why do people want to change it so much?

    • If i remember correctly it wasn’t to make Donald Glover Peter Parker, it was to make him Spiderman which in my mind is a distinction. That campaign started before Miles Morales existed and was the basis of the character in the first place which is why having Donald play the character that was based on him makes sense in my mind.

  • I’d like Civil War to be a Captain America movie like the title implies it is, but instead it’s Avengers 2.5 (or Iron Man 5)

      • because it’s a captain america movie, not avengers 2.5? why not put it under the avengers banner if you’re going to include so many other characters that it’s not going to be a steve rogers movie??

    • Do you actually know what the Civil War story is about? It IS about the avengers AND about Cap AND about Tony Stark AND about Spider-Man AND about the Fantastic Four. It is an amalgam of a story and I don’t see why it shouldn’t be played from the side of about the only person who maintained a sense of right and wrong through the entire mess.

      • Then why put it in the Captain America movie that is my point oh my god. It is all these people, so why is it taking over a solo movie? It’s Captain America, not Avengers. Steve Rogers will get 5 minutes screen time in his own movie.

        Urghhh “Do u even know what Civil War is about?” Yes I know I have been there and done that, read all the issues and tie ins and what have you, what else would you like me to do to prove that yes, I do know what Civil War is about, thank you very much.

        • If it’s anything like Civil War, I think the fact that it’s being labelled as a Captain America movie gives us clues as to which side will be taken, and who the antagonists will be. I think we’ll be following the journey of Steve, not Tony.

          • Oh, yeah ofc, but if you’re going to stuff more and more characters in – and new ones who you need to establish even a little because they’re actually going to have their own movies, he’s going to lose significant amounts of screen time and the movie being about his journey. You saw that with Cap2, which was more a SHIELD movie than a Captain America movie really.

          • Wow, really? I didn’t get that vibe at all. I thought he had an enormous amount of screen time and was unquestionably the focus. Any more screen-time would’ve been really weird, taking away from the setting up of foils and the breadth of perspectives.

  • Why should he be black? Lets also make him female, and she should identify as being a Lesbian… and also should be in a wheelchair and have some sort of mental disability… just so we cover all bases.

    • Or let us make it about a white, male Internet poster that it is ruffled about seeing a dwindling representation of his ilk in his favourite movies!

  • For every good article I find on here, I find an “article” like this.

    You could of at least discussed how they’ve already said that it’s going to be Peter Parker and not Miles Morales.

    Then maybe justified why you think they should use Miles over Parker. Better yet, maybe Peter Parker could be black, a la the Idris Elba/James Bond thing that’s been brought up recently.

    I could get behind that. I’m a Peter Parker fan, not really read much on Miles Morales, but that’s not to say I really care who they pick to play Peter Parker.

    …on reading the comments, I think I’ve realized that we’re actually writing the article for them.

    • In the end Parker’s race plays no role in his identity so it really doesn’t matter who they pick to play him.

      Hell, i could be (probably am) wrong but wasn’t Nick Fury white until Ultimate? Now that Jackson has played him damn well he’ll forever be black and all the better for it.

      • Which is great and all, Samuel L Jackson Fury owns his coolness… but I gotta say, I really miss the old Colonel. He really was just dreamy. Like a Robert Redford George Clooney hybrid conjuring images of the oldschool hardboiled hero as a counterpoint to the boyscout Cap’n. We gained something, but we also lost something. I think it’s OK to miss that. Not that I can think of a single actor who could play him at the moment.

    • Why change Peter Parker when there’s a perfectly good minority Spider-Man waiting in the wings? Depriving Miles Morales seems like a backward step, especially if he’s to be replaced by a blackfaced Parker.

      Also, while Idris Elba is a terrific actor, James Bond is one of those characters that is defined by his identity as a mysogynist, privileged white male.

  • As long as it’s justified and not some bogus stunt to boost sales. I hate the need for this sort of decision making to justify the need for anti-racism type stuff.

    If it fits and works. Why the hell not? And I can’t wait til we get to a point where it’s not ‘oh, its a (whatever colour/race) taking on the role’ and it’s another person taking on the role.

  • Kotaku commenters are a bunch of whiney, sookish babies. Female ghost busters? STOP RAPING MY CHILDHOOD!1! Black Spiderman? WHY GIVE IN TO SOCIAL JUSTICE AAGHHHHH
    Guess what? Sometimes white men aged 18 to 49 are not the center of attention. The world won’t end, you won’t be forced to make friends with a black person, or treat women with respect. All that will happen is that for a brief period, other types of people will know what it feels like to be represented in the mainstream.

    For real though, you all should post about it on r/mensrights or something

  • This is why I stick to Japanese Manga now, the age of political correctness has killed everything that was an original creative art form to begin with. And if you don’t accept the new age of comics here you are ‘sexist’, ‘racist’, ‘xenophobe’, ‘homphobe’, etc. Cant wait until the liberal bias dies down, only a matter of time before they eat themselves.

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