Spider-man: Into The Spiderverse is incredible! I would have watched another two hours if Sony gave it to me. I cannot recommend it enough. Go see it if you haven’t already. See it again if you have. And, since the main character, Miles Morales, is hot right now—
Let’s talk about him and the movie! (No Spoilers Here)
Miles Morales was introduced in the Ultimate Marvel imprint in 2011 amidst racial controversy (mostly YouTube Talking-Head rage…because I guess racists like comics too…who knew?). A teenage Bedford-Stuyvesant native, Miles develops powers similar to Ultimate Spider-man. Despite his powers, Miles has little desire to be a superhero nor does have the confidence to do what the NYC’s beloved Spider-man did. That is until Spider-man dies defeating the Ultimate Green Goblin – one of the most touching sacrifices in comic media.
Unlike the original Spider-man who was inspired by the example of his uncle, Miles is inspired by the example of Spider-man (which is tweaked slightly in the movie on both the uncle and Spider-man front, for the better too) and takes up his mantle. In a medium saturated with anti-heroes, gritty reimaginings, sympathetic villains, commercialized gang-culture, and moral ambiguity, Miles demonstrates that young people can be inspired by noble acts and heroism. And, to rebut the vitriolic randoms pushing their anti-SJW agendas (Dumbest. Acronym. Ever.), I’ll take a moment to address your concern about race…because I guess that’s a thing for the closet (and not-so-closet) racists out there: Miles is afro-latino of mixed heritage and bilingual, he has big hair and modern swag, and he has a strong Boricua mother and a doting Black father. So, even if the color of the character’s skin triggers you to scream into social media, consider the impact and reach of the character racially, ethnically, socially, etc. If that doesn’t give you pause, I’ll note that I’ve only seen one video opposing the white, female version of Spider-man in the movie…
I digress. The best part of Miles is that he enriches the Spider-lore in a unique way as he delivers a new, modern, and relevant character to the Spider-audience. Miles isn’t just a carbon-copy replacement who can’t live up to the original, usurping the storytelling in the vein of Jean-Paul Valley in Batman comics in the 90s, demanding a return to form. He is a rich, versatile character that exists alongside Spider-man, and improves the brand. Since Marvel’s All New, All Different event, Miles has become a permanent resident of Marvel’s main-line imprint and universe right next to the beloved original. Now, we can get adult Spider-man stories featuring Peter Parker and the novel, teenage stories featuring Miles. And, since they swing through the same city, they can team-up in a comedic buddy-cop fashion with all the ridiculous banter of Tango and Cash (1989) and all the charisma of Mr. Miyagi and Daniel in Karate Kid (1984). Marvel may have found a contender to DC’s Batman and Robin dynamic. May being the operative word.
Relevance (No Spoilers Here)
Miles is an exploration of what Spider-man would look like today. Sure, we’ve all seen Peter as a teenager in the current climate of mobile phones, social media, and ultra-partisan politics but Peter just doesn’t fill the searching-for-himself role. We know him too well. We know what happens. We’ve seen him grow up, graduate high school and college, get married, and revert back to a pre-marriage status (Side note: Brand New Day (2008) was a terrible blemish on the modern hero trope…look it up). I like a teenage Peter…but I just don’t buy it anymore. Peter was the same guy who crouched on top of payphones to call Mary Jane and Aunt May. As a modern teenager, he could have never done that, and that injures the lore. Instead, we have Miles to fill the modern novelties of cellphones and social media, and we can leave the adult things to Peter. Teenage Peter is cool, but it has gone stale. I say take a page out of the Batman books and let the guy grow up.
Magic (No Spoilers Here)
There was so much magic in the movie! I’m not talking about that Gandolf nor that Harry Potter magic, I’m talking about the captivating, goosebumps magic—the I’m-A-Jedi-Like-My-Father-Before-Me magic. An official measure of the success of any superhero is the reaction of the children who watch it. A close friend of mine stopped by Target after seeing Into The Spiderverse, and his kids were pretending to web swing through the store. They felt the magic. Hell, he felt the magic; and, so did I. As I sat there and marveled over Spider-man, I remembered what it was like to be a kid, feeling inspired to put on a mask and go challenge the world. Think I’m off-base? Well, tell me how many people you saw come out of The Amazing Spider-man (2012) feeling inspired. Exactly.
Moral (No Spoilers Here)
The bottom line is anyone can be a hero: you, me, your son or daughter, your grandmother, the person next door, anyone. The only thing you need is the heart and a little determination. Think about the song What’s Up Danger (2018), by Blackway and Black Caviar, that played during Miles’ final montage. The song relays that only thing separating you and greatness is your courage to seize an opportunity. Maybe you’ll succeed. Maybe you’ll fail. But you won’t stutter step in the face of challenge; you’re committed. That’s what makes a hero. Anyone can be that. It just takes a leap of faith…
Long live Spider Team!
Oh, and I’ve waited twenty-five years for the main character of the post-credit scene, Miguel O’Hara (half-Puerto Rican…), to pop up on the silver screen. My life is complete…for now.