I’ve been a Spider-Man fan for as long as I can remember. I watched the television show every Saturday morning on Fox, and one winter night trying to get my Grandparents’ ancient satellite dish to pull in the signal the night they put the season premiere in prime time. I read the comics thought out most of the early to mid-nineties when it was all about Spider-Man without much Peter Parker, and then picking it back up in the early ’00s when J. Michael Straczynski made Peter much more important than the costume (which I really enjoyed). I’ve watched the first trilogy and the first installment of the Amazing re-boot, and like some entries more than others, but enjoyed them all (even Spider-Man 3 once I took it for the cheesy mess it ended up being. Dance Pete! Dance!). One of my favorite comic series of all time is Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley’s run on Ultimate Spider-Man. I credit the series for getting me back in to comics during my high school years.
So, suffice to say, I was pretty excited about my favorite comic book character of all time finally getting his chance to shine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). But through all the excitement, I do have my concerns. Below are those concerns and how I would approach them. This is a subject that is already garnering numerous opinions, and I figured I would throw mine out there. If you have some to share, please, leave a comment in the space below. I’m stoked to see what you think as well.
Spider-Man Should Be Peter Parker
Let met get this out of the way: From the small amount that I’ve read of Miles Morales, I have no issue with the character. I actually really enjoy reading him, and writer Brian Michael Bendis has done a great job at making him into his own character. He is truly a good fit at taking up the Spider-Man mantle.
But he doesn’t need to be the Spider-Man’s alter-ego we see on the big screen. Not yet anyway.
Now before you start telling me I’m an angry geek that doesn’t like change, read this, and then let me explain.
Peter Parker’s story hasn’t been told inside of the proper Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and it’s a story that needs to be told fully before we replace him. Sure, we know Peter Parker’s story as far as origin (more on that later), but we have never seen him interact with the Avengers, or any other Marvel hero, on the big screen before. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see Peter get advice from Captain America, talk science with Tony Stark, and be nervous around the beautiful Black Widow. I want him to battle Ultron, Loki, and Thanos while making jokes that only Parker can in high pressure situations.
In short, Peter Parker is the heart of the Marvel Universe. Having him on screen now in the proper MCU makes the universe feel whole. Spider-Man, arguably, is the most important character in Marvel’s history, and Peter Parker is a big reason for that. Peter needs to have a place in the MCU before Miles Morales is introduced. Why? Because Peter’s sense of responsibility and sacrifice is the reason Spider-Man is so important to the Marvel Universe as a whole. Peter’s honorable nature makes Spider-Man more than just a cool costume, it makes him arguable the greatest hero in the Marvel Universe. Let Peter make Spider-Man the hero we know and love first, before you just hand it to another character to take over or give outright ownership of. Let Peter build Spider-Man’s legacy so someone wants to pick up the mantel when it’s time to replace him. Bendis took the same course when he decided to make Morales the new Ultimate Spider-Man. By the time Peter sacrificed his life for his friends, he allowed Peter to make him the honorable hero that we all know Spidey to be, leaving Morales with big shoes to fill. Let’s make it the same way in the cinematic universe by letting Parker, with his endearing personality and self-doubt, establish the character just like he did in the comics. This gives Morales his own origin, narrative, and adventure to embark on.
And, yes, I understand the call for diversity in the MCU. We need more minorities and women present in Marvel’s big screen universe as much as we do in their printed one, but pulling Peter Parker away from Spider-Man just to add diversity is a storytelling cop out. There is no doubt diversity is important no matter the storytelling media, but it also has to be a natural progression. I find it much easier to accept character changes, ethnic or otherwise, when its given in the context that makes sense. It mades sense for the Ultimate Universe’s Peter Parker to die, leading to Morales taking over the mantle in a way that made sense and helped introduce a great character to that universe. If the prevailing thought for making Morales Spider-Man is for purely ethnic reasons, which is one of the major arguments I’ve read so far for the change, then you are taking a great character and making him part of a quota. Even though Marvel received plenty of media attention for Morales, the ground work for him becoming Spider-Man was laid by Peter’s stories giving the character a solid foundation to debut on. The change made sense. If you just replace Peter for the sake of introducing ethnicity into the MCU, Marvel is doing nothing but setting up Morales to fail. Story groundwork is essential to making major character changes work. Even Marvel finding some way to introduce them both would be much better than just making Morales Spider-Man with out any framework for it.
I’m all for Miles Morales’ story being told, but let us not leave Peter Parker’s untold to tell it.
We Don’t Need (Another) Re-Telling of His Origin Story
If there is one aspect of Spider-Man that everyone should know, it’s the origin. I love the first Spider-Man movie, but it pains me so much watch the origin section that I fast forward it. I sat through the first part of Amazing Spider-Man wondering why we are doing this again, when the origin is common knowledge at this point.
If Marvel proceeds with a younger Peter Parker, then they may want to look at doing the origins through flashbacks like Zac Snyder did with Watchman to explain the heritage of the Minute Men during the opening credits of the film. It’s a unique way of telling an origin and it gives the director more time to tell the main story of the film. I always felt that origin stories for established characters slowed the overall film. The second half of Amazing Spider-Man was much more interesting as the plot moved forward at a steadier pace.
In short, do us all a favor Marvel and skip the origin.
Speaking of a younger Peter Parker…
A Younger Spider-Man Is Going to Look Like a Side-Kick in the Avengers
This all depends on how much time there is going to be between Captain America: Civil War, if the reports of our favorite web-slinger showing up in the film are true, and the next installment of the Avengers franchise. If they portray him as a kid that has been a hero for a couple years in Captain America and then a respected veteran by time Avengers roll around, then I won’t have to worry about it. This all comes down to how much time elapses between movies. It shouldn’t be too hard to adjust the timeline so Peter can have at least a couple of years under his belt before he becomes one of Earths Mightiest Heroes. He needs to be young enough to still struggle at being a hero, but experienced enough that the team can see he is capable of being a hero.
Spider-Man needs a proper and sensible introduction into this Marvel Universe, but let’s not make him seem like the Avengers’ intern.
Whatever Happens, I’m Just Glad That Spider-Man is Coming Home
That is why, even with all the concerns stated above, that I’m just glad to see Spider-Man back where he belongs. This version of the Marvel Universe always felt incomplete knowing that Spider-Man or Peter Parker would never show up. That the character would be stuck in Sony purgatory and Disney, already making a ton of money without one of Marvel’s cornerstone characters, wouldn’t pay enough money to pry him away.
Now we have Spider-Man home where he belongs and, according to reports, Disney didn’t have to pay anything to get him (read the terms of the deal here). Regardless of how he made his way home, Spider-Man is here to stay and it makes this life-long Spider-Man fan a very happy geek.