It’s more or less common knowledge now that Spider-Man will be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe next year as part of Captain America: Civil War. As one of Marvel’s most popular characters, fans have been clamoring for him to join the Avengers on the big screen for quite some time. Their perseverance is the equivalent of evangelical Christians waiting for the Second Coming, or of other Americans waiting for the McRib to be in season.
It’s exciting! Marvel has a pretty great track record of bringing its characters to the silver screen, so this will surely be awesome, right? Probably. At the same time, we have seen Peter Parker’s story play out twice over the past thirteen years over two different film franchises. Even the most casual fans can recite his origin story because we have seen it over and over and over again. It’s become stale, which may help explain why the most recent movies didn’t catch on as well as Sony hoped they would.
The thing is, there is a solution: Miles Morales. Introduced as part of the Ultimate universe of Marvel comics, Miles has quickly become a fan-favorite after taking up the mantel of Spider-Man following Parker’s death in that timeline. We even got this fan-made short film giving us a tiny glimpse of what could be.
While he has mostly the same abilities and is still quick with a quip, he is different. As a young African-American and Hispanic teen, he has a very different upbringing and view of the world than Parker did. That difference in perspective opens up a whole new world of stories you can tell, which is something that is sorely needed after five movies of Peter Parker moping about his love life and Uncle Ben.
It also works perfectly with what Marvel has been trying to do with the MCU as a whole. One of the reasons the Daredevil Netflix series ended up being so good was that it told stories very different from what you typically see in the blockbuster movies. The characters, plots and action were all brought down to a more relatable level. Instead of dealing with world-ending stakes, gods and alien/killer robot armies, Daredevil fought against more familiar threats and dealt with the world after the superheroes left. It really was a breath of fresh air. Miles Morales could bring a similar sense of variety as an urban youth with a very different view of the world than the rest of the Avengers.
It also allows the MCU to follow the same direction of the comics that serve as their source material. Over the past year, Marvel has made a point to diversify its cast of heroes to better reflect the diversity of its readers and the world around them. The title of Ms. Marvel was taken up by a young Pakistani girl. Captain America is now Sam Wilson, formerly the Falcon (and a black man). A woman became Thor. You could argue that these are just racial and gender political stunts, but it’s also good business. These new comics have opened to strong sales, because the audience for superhero stories has evolved beyond the Young White Male.
This is a pipe dream, though. We already know it will be Peter Parker joining the Avengers. But damn it, I wish it wasn’t. As amateurish as that fan film may be, it did get me excited for the potential a Miles Morales movie (or show) could have within the MCU. I want something different, something that isn’t the same story being told yet again. As the MCU continues to expand, I want it to do so in unexpected ways and with characters whose origins and arcs haven’t been done to death. I want Miles Morales.