Apparently unable to accept that Miles Morales’ inability to fully endear himself to long-time comic book fans is based on Marvel’s mishandling of his character rather than any inherent bigotry or inability to accept the concept of a ‘Spider-successor’, the directorial team behind Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse have revealed that the film’s core story is “a commentary” on the very readers who decline to acknowledge the fledgling hero as a ‘real’ Spider-Man.
The trio of Joaquim Dos Santos (Justice League Unlimited), Kemp Powers (Pixar’s Soul), and Justin K. Thompson (making his directing debut after having served as a production designer on Into the Spider-Verse) provided this insight into Miles’ latest cinematic adventure during a recent interview given to YouTuber Johnny 2 Cellos on behalf of the Nerdist.
Miles Morales is Spider-Man #AcrossTheSpiderVerse
— Nerdist (@nerdist) June 5, 2023
Asked by Johnny if “any degree of that story that was meant to be a sort of commentary on the fans who don’t see Miles as-“, the trio interrupted him before he could say ‘Spider-Man’ with a resounding chorus of “Yes. Absolutely. Yeah. 100%.”
“I mean the idea of like canon and rule and who gets to be [Spider-Man],” explained Thompson and Powers.
“Spider-Man, you know, is definitely, like, a character that is owned by the audience,” Thompson continued. “But some of that audience, like, takes it so seriously and is trying to enforce and restrict.”
“I remember when Miles Morales’ first comic book came out,” he then recalled. ‘There are people who were rejecting Miles as a character. You know, for their reasons.”
“[That’s] not how we think it should be,” the director asserted. We wanted to talk directly to that almost stick it to that mentality [and really reinforce the message] of ‘No. anyone can wear the mask.’
“And if Spider-Man is a character that is owned by the entire world,” Thompson concluded, “The entire world should be represented in that character.”
As noted above, while there are undoubtedly some fans who will never accept Miles for whatever reasons – and yes, admittedly and unfortunately, there are detractors whose rejection will be motivated by genuine bigotry – for most, it is the fact that Marvel is unable to give him an identity outside of ‘the secondary Spider-Man’ which leaves them disinterested in his character.
Outside of the Spider-Verse films – and an actually sensible exploration of his role as a successor to an aging Peter’s in Spider-Man: Life Story – the company has no idea what to do with Miles’ character.
Just look at how, from nearly the moment of his inception, nearly everything about Miles has been a ‘hand me down’ from Peter Parker. From his origins, to his villains, to his storylines (he even got his own Clone Saga!), everything associated with his character is just a retread of his namesake’s story – so much so that this fact makes up the entire plot of Across the Spider-Verse.
Ultimately, this makes it it hard for readers to care about him as an individual character.
And Miles can’t even escape the company’s lack of creativity in other mediums, as not only has the Across the Spider-Verse film set him up with one of Peter’s old love interests, but his main antagonist in Insomniac Games’ Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales was also nothing more than race-swapped version of his predecessor’s longtime foe, The Tinkerer.
However, perhaps the strongest proof that Marvel is at a loss for how to use Miles is the fact that, in the comics, he is continually being given more and more ‘deus ex machina’-level powers.
Lightning swords, electric ‘kamehamehas’, webs – in recent years, whenever the young hero is up against any sort of challenge, Marvel just solves it by expanding his already broken ‘bio-electric’ power set.
And while Marvel will never admit it, one suspects that the reason Miles’ stories tend to follow the same pattern of ‘new challenge, new power’ rather than any real narrative is because no one has been brave enough to actually treat him as anything more than a marketing prop.
Beyond the Spider-Verse is currently set to further shatter the multiverse on March 29th, 2024.