When the “Spider-Man: Homecoming” trailer landed at the end of last week, my Twitter feed lit up with comments that can basically be summarized as: OMG, this looks amazing! Is that Ganke? And why couldn’t it have been Miles?
You’ve got me on: this movie really does look like it will be incredible. I’m not completely sold on the super-technological Vulture, but everything else looks like it might be the best Spider-Man movie yet. And fortunately, CBR’s Brett White already looked at the second point, that the Ganke-like figure is really Ned Leeds.
But the third point deserves a deeper response — did we really need another movie about Peter Parker when we could have had Miles Morales? While I’m sure many will disagree with me, I believe yes, that for Miles to work effectively in the MCU, we first have to have Peter Parker.
Don’t get me wrong; I would absolutely love to have a Miles Morales-led Spider-Man movie, and not just the animated film currently scheduled for a December 2018 release. But so much of what makes Miles work is his status as a legacy hero. After all, he took up the mantle of Spider-Man after the Peter Parker of the Ultimate Universe died, and for a long time he wondered if he really had any right to the Spider-Man name.
That dynamic is what made Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli’s “Spider-Men” miniseries, where Miles met the Peter Parker of the main Marvel Universe, so good. Miles finally got some vindication that he deserved the name “Spider-Man,” while Peter learned about the impact he could have on the world even after his death. Both characters grew after meeting each other, something that has been escalated since Miles joined Peter in the main Marvel Universe post-“Secret Wars.”
I don’t expect (and wouldn’t want) the MCU to go the same route of killing off Tom Holland’s Peter Parker. But Peter doesn’t have to be dead for Miles to see him as a role model; he just has to have been around as Spider-Man for a few years.
Unfortunately, because Marvel and Sony only agreed to share Spider-Man early last year, that means we will be well into Phase 4 or even Phase 5 of the MCU before we can expect a Miles-centric movie. It would;d be great for it to happen sooner, but I’m genuinely convinced the eventual movie will be much stronger because of the ability to build off of what will come before.
Letting Peter and Miles share the MCU isn’t just good for Miles, though — it’s also good for Peter. For the past twenty-plus years, Marvel has been engaged in a virtually constant battle to prevent Peter from aging. (The 1990s “Clone Saga” and “One More Day” are just two examples of Marvel editorial’s efforts to maintain a young, hip, single Spider-Man.) In a universe with Miles as a teenage Spider-Man, there’s room for Peter to grow up a bit, get a serious job, and maybe even get married and raise an adorable little Spider-Girl. In short, Peter doesn’t have to stay perpetually 19 if Miles is 15.
Starting with Peter also helps set the stage for better long-term storytelling in the Spider-side of the MCU. Because Peter has much stronger ties to the various other Spider-people, starting with him means it’s easier to quickly build up the Spider-Verse. There are signs it is already starting. A leaked “Spider-Man: Homecoming” call sheet listed Asian-American actor Tiffany Espensen as a character named “Cindy,” raising expectations that she may play Cindy Moon, aka Silk, a fellow student who was bitten by the same spider that gave Peter his powers. Starting with Peter means we might also soon have Silk, a Korean-American superhero, in the MCU.
Of course, Silk’s backstory ties in heavily to Ezekiel from the now-classic J. Michael Straczynski/John Romita, Jr. run on “Amazing Spider-Man,” who in turn ties in to the Spider Society and Anya Corazon, the half-Puerto Rican, half-Mexican superhero known variously as Araña or Spider-Girl.
(As an Avenger, Peter also has ties to Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman, but I’m leaving her out, since she’s not typically considered to be closely connected to the Spider-Man mythos.)
Sure, it’s true that backstories could be changed so Cindy, Ezekiel and Anya were tied into Miles rather than Peter, but there’s a genuine risk that if you change too many details, the characters will lose much of what makes them so great to begin with. And not just for them — if given so much of Peter’s life, would Miles still be Miles?
By instead starting with Peter as the first Spider-Man in the MCU, Marvel is setting the stage for some truly awesome storytelling a few years from now. The likely appearance of Cindy Moon in “Homecoming” might even be laying the foundation for one of my dream MCU projects: “Spider-Verse.” Just imagine how incredible it would be to see Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland share the screen as variations in the key of Spider-Man (along with Emma Stone as Spider-Gwen, naturally).
While I’m bummed it’s going to be a few more years before we get Miles on screen in a serious way (not counting any Easter eggs that might show up in “Homecoming”), I’m genuinely excited about the storytelling options that having Peter—and Miles and Cindy and Anya and maybe someday Mayday Parker and Miguel O’Hara—in the MCU opens up. It might take a few years to get there, but Phases 4 and 5 could be filled with some fan-favorite Spider-People.
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