I know, some of you are probably pissed that I have the audacity to not be excited for what looks to be the first good Spider-Man movie since the original trilogy. And yes, Spider-Man Homecoming does look like a good movie – and that’s exactly my problem with it.
After Peter Parker’s dazzling appearance in Captain America: Civil War, where he arguably stole the show (although I felt he was shoehorned and his being there made no sense), Sony decided they were making a solo Spider-Man film that would focus around Peter Parker. I was completely here for it; I’d enjoyed the way they’d handled the character, and I wanted more.
However, Sony decided that they didn’t really want to tell Peter Parker’s origin story again. They’d done that twice already. What they really wanted was to build off of Civil War and give Peter Parker and entirely new, unique story that had never been done before. All of which I was here for. What I was not prepared for was what they were using for Peter’s “new story” in the process.
In the comics, Miles Morales is a young teenager who takes on the Spider-Man mantle after Peter Parker’s death. He’s Afro-Latino, meaning he’s a Latino with primarily African descendants . He has mostly the same powers as Spider-Man, save for a cool beam of electricity that can incapacitate his enemies. It’s even been hinted in some comics that he might be able to see well in the dark, which is also very cool. Not only does Miles have a great power set, but he’s a great character; more subdued than Peter but still funny and full of life, worried about saving his family. He doesn’t necessarily want to be a superhero; he just wants to survive, but when the opportunity comes to him, he doesn’t run from it – he embraces it.
And for Spider-Man Homecoming, it seems the writers and producers of that film have realized how great a character he is – and considerably taken huge chunks of his storyline and given them to Peter Parker.
What am I talking about? In the new film, Peter goes to a private school and lives on campus with his best friend, a young Asian teenager (just like Miles). He has predominantly Black and Latino side characters (just like Miles). He’s going up against the Shocker, who I believe to be a stand-in for the Prowler, Miles’s uncle and biggest villain. There’s even a scene in the trailer that’s directly out of a Miles comic. Remember the part with Peter crawling on the ceiling in on his roommate, who is shocked to discover he’s Spider-Man? That’s from a Miles Morales storyline.
This is honestly tiring. Studios cannot keep giving us background characters that are non-white and call it a diverse cast. The inclusion of Zendaya, who’s likely playing Mary Jane, and Laura Harrier as Liz Allan was great, but if they’re barely going to be part of the story and all the major characters are white, what’s even the point of racebending them?
If you’re going to use Miles Morales’s storyline, why not use Miles Morales? Sure, diehard Peter fanboys would riot, but at the end of the day, I know in my heart the movie would make a huge chunk of money at the box office. Sony could have beat the MCU to the punch in terms of having a Black/Latino superhero film, and Peter could have still appeared – but an older, more veteran version of him. That way, they could have skipped over doing the origin story and had the both of them, with Miles as the focus. An entirely different take on the character.
Plus, think of how amazing it would be to have little Black kids and Latino kids dressing up as the character, knowing that they are worth the screen time and attention of a full, big-budget blockbuster. Imagine what affect that would have on the Black and Latinx communities as a whole, both of whom have huge influence at the box office. Miles Morales, leading a superhero movie and being a part of the MCU? It’d be the ideal representation.
If Spider Man Homecoming had been a genuinely new and exciting story that had diversity, drew on Peter comics from the past but was its own thing, and included Miles Morales in some fashion without ripping off his story, I’d be beyond excited for it. And I’m bummed to not be. I don’t ever want to dislike a film. Homecoming looks like it has some solid action sequences, great comedic moments, and the most accurate adaptation of Peter Parker we’ve seen to date.
Hey, maybe the film will come out and be great. Maybe the diverse characters will be just as important as the white ones. Maybe Miles will be teased or hinted at to appear in the film. Maybe they’ll even have Miles and Peter working together at some point, the Spider-Men, allies working toward a common goal.
But it’s with an annoyed mind and heavy heart that I watch all these Spider-Man Homecoming trailers, knowing that this could have been Miles’s time to shine.