If you haven’t already seen the trailer for The Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, treat yourself and go watch it here.
For those unfamiliar with the name, Miles Morales is the Afro-Latino teenager who becomes the new Spider-Man in the Ultimate Marvel comics, an updated universe for the current age.
For those who have been anticipating “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse,” you may know that Donald Glover, who played a small role in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” is credited as “Aaron Davis” who is also known as “the Prowler,” a criminal from the Ultimate Marvel universe who also happens to be Miles Morales’s uncle.
Now this may have been a cameo to satisfy hardcore fans, who have been petitioning for Donald Glover’s portrayal of a black Spiderman when Sony was rebooting the franchise with fresh faces. The role ultimately went to Andrew Garfield, but the potential joy of seeing a black Spider-Man still lingers on many minds.
Perhaps not in vain. It’s very possible Glover’s role could have been hinting at the inevitable (live action) appearance of Miles Morales as the next Spider-Man. Although Glover may not play the web head in a movie, it’s possible we may see another actor of color don the costume in the future.
Now, we know that Tom Holland will reprise his role as the web slinger for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean there can only be one Spiderman.
While the Star Wars universe’s expansion takes advantage of low hanging fruit for better (Rogue One) or worse (Solo), the Marvel and DC Universes are paving the way for the next phase of a massive cinematic universe that has to keep going: replication.
Marvel’s comics has been utilizing the multiverse theory in its story lines for years, but it’s also been revamping its iconic, yet familiar heroes by literally and figuratively giving them some color.
Miles Morales is one of the emerging heroes of color that are adding a different spin to Marvel’s usual suspects. This includes Amadeus Cho, a Korean-American genius, who succeeds Bruce Banner as the Hulk and Riri Williams, a wunderkind black student, who becomes the first Iron Woman.
If the Marvel and DC film Universes can combine the multiverse story device with giving their iconic heroes a fresh spin, what does this mean in terms of representation on screen? Will Marvel loop back to origin movies, but with different actors, particularly actors of color (AOC)?
Yes and no.
For one, the evolution of the Marvel/DC/Star Wars Universe into serialized filmographies are leaning more and more towards episodic television. The Marvel Universe have as many entries as a season of television and it is reaching its first zenith with the recent “Avengers: Infinity Wars” and will conclude its first phase (aka season) with “Avengers 4.”
As Marvel continues into its next phase and loses its actors to age and expiring contracts (retirement), this could potentially mean mining the wealth of comic book source material even deeper and adapting them into films. This doesn’t just mean that there will be more diversity of heroes, but that there will be even more diversity of films.
There were rumors of “Superman: Red Son” by Mark Millar being adapted into a movie years ago, but the studios weren’t ready for it yet. Superman landing in Russia and making them a threat to the U.S.? How could they possibly make that relevant in the current political climate…
Anyway, now that Jared Leto and Joaquin Phoenix will each have their stab at the Joker, could “The Killing Joke” or even “The Long Halloween” be adapted into a standalone movie or series of movies?
The possibilities are endless and, to be frank, exhausting (especially when Disney buys out everything). It’s daunting to think of the multiple renditions of heroes, let alone the number of movies that can come out with various actors playing the same hero or villain.
But the beauty of it lies in combining the multifaceted nature of AOC playing the heroes or villains that have been white, while also expanding upon the superhero genre.
The best example of this is “X-Men: The New Mutants,” which features an indigenous mutant and Brazilian mutant in a film that looks and feels more like a horror movie. This not only adds in new faces of color, but it expands on the tired superhero genre that has been limited to origin, crossover, and origin crossover movies.
A horror movie that features mutant teenagers not only expands upon the Marvel cinematic universe, but it transcends the horror genre to give us something we haven’t really seen before onscreen. Whether fans will embrace “The New Mutants” remains to be seen, but as a long time viewer and fan of the superhero genre, I’m excited for what lies on the horizon.
And as for a live action Miles Morales Spiderman movie, it’s all speculative. It’s possible that Marvel will portray its diverse characters through animation only and AOC may only be heard, while remaining technically unseen. Or it’s possible that Marvel have taken notice of their audience members, who have hungered for a hero of color and there’s more to come.
Despite the staggering amount of repetition and experimentation that may result, AOC could end up playing every hero or villain we’ve seen before until every option is exhausted. But if the end result is everyone getting to see themselves represented on screen, that’s a universe worth exploring.
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Written in VA. An MFA graduate in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia.