As of Wednesday morning, the mantle of Spider-Man has changed hands in both the comic-book and movie realms. And while Marvel Comics scored a win on the diversity front, it’s fair to wonder if the move could pay dividends in another realm.
Because while it’s notable enough to see Miles Morales, the Black Latino character introduced in an alternate comics universe nearly four years ago, named as the protagonist in Marvel’s new Spider-Man title, it will be particularly interesting to see how the company handles both him and his predecessor, Peter Parker, after a series of moves de-emphasizing characters who, like Peter, are not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
It was easy to approach Marvel Entertainment’s Phase 3 announcement Tuesday morning somewhat skeptically. After all, the 24 hours leading into it were consumed by the rumor that Benedict Cumberbatch had been cast as Doctor Strange.
Then came the news:
BREAKING: CHADWICK BOSEMAN CAST AS BLACK PANTHER #MarvelEvent
Coupled with the news that Marvel was finally moving forward with a Captain Marvel film, the day ended with not only widespread anticipation, but the question: where do we — fans of diversity in the superhero movie realm — go from here?
Let’s try to answer that question by asking another: Which actors and character/brands benefit from Tuesday’s news? Continue reading →
(L-R) Peter Parker and Miles Morales, as shown on the cover of “Spider-Men” #1.
Sony Entertainment might be pleased right now about the opening-weekend performance from Amazing Spider-Man 2. A $94 million domestic take isn’t a Marvel-level success, and the film has gotten middling reviews, but it’s been a decent start.
But the company should be concerned about the arrogance exhibited by executive producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach late last week, as they effectively rejecting the possibility of seeing a Spider-Man who is not cis-white het male Peter Parker inhabit Sony’s Spider-film realm. As The Mary Sue reported, Arad and Tolmach put the kibosh on that talk in an interview with IndieWire:
IndieWire: Are Miles Morales (“Ultimate Spider-Man”), Ben Reilly (clone Spider-Man) or Miguel O’Hara (“Spider-Man 2099″) on the table? If you want a Spider-Man movie every year why not bring in some of the other variations? Tolmach: No. Arad: No. The one thing you cannot do, when you have a phenomena that has stood the test of time, you have to be true to the real character inside – who is Peter Parker? What are the biggest effects on his life? Then you can draw in time, and you can consider today’s world in many ways. But to have multiple ones… I don’t know if you remember, but Marvel tried it. And it was almost the end of Spider-Man. IW: So Spider-Man in the cinematic realm will always be Peter Parker? Arad: Absolutely Tolmach: As far as we’re concerned. The guys who take it over after us … Who knows …
It’s true that Sony runs the ASM brand independently of Marvel’s operation, but if movie!Spidey were truly independent from his comics counterpart, Otto Octavius’ stint assuming Peter Parker’s identity in Superior Spider-Man might not have wrapped up just in time for the new movie.
Okay, so there’s not going to be anything Avengers-sized at this year’s New York Comic Con. That said, I’m still thrilled to be spending the weekend down at the Javits Center on behalf of The R. I’ll be on site Thursday through Sunday covering panels, celebrity sightings, and other general Con-ness. There aren’t as many panels as we had back at this summer’s SDCC, but the way I see it that just makes it easier to hit up more great stuff!
In promoting the new Ultimate Spider-Man comic, which features a black Latino protagonist in Miles Morales, Marvel pulled out the kind of pull-quote driven advert you’d expect for a high-profile launch.
Unfortunately, the ad short-changes what proves to be a compelling, if not particularly exciting, story. Continue reading →
Immediately, I latched onto the character of Static like the electricity for which he’s named. A Black, lower-middle-class kid, skinny and somewhat socially awkward, whose method of dealing with problems usually involved his wit rather than his fists, capable of using such terms as “Pythagorean renown” for no real reason other than they sound pretty and prone to breaking into a capella renderings of the theme to The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly at the drop of a hat? It was as if McDuffie and co-creator John Paul Leon had based the character on me. I faithfully bought every issue each month until the series ended in the late 90s.
When I was in college, I was pleased to see the character brought into the mainstream with the Static Shock animated series on the WB, happy to see Milestone’s highest-profile character get the respect and appreciation he deserved in mass-market media. It proved something I’d always maintained about the character: that Static, more so than Black Panther, Icon, or Hardware, was actually capable of appealing to all comic book readers, not just Black ones. Like Spider-Man, he was a bright young man who dealt with the problems middle-class youth have to face; like Spider-Man, he grew up in an urban environment, part of a faceless anonymous class of people in an enormous city. Like Spider-Man, he wanted to work his way up from his circumstances; like Spider-Man, he had to do it with his brains, not his body. The difference—and this was a difference large enough to ensure the character was far from derivative—was that Virgil Hawkins was Black, and lived a life according to this social experience.
In essence, Virgil Hawkins lived the kind of life Spider-Man would have lived, had he been Black. – From “Why Virgil Hawkins Is More Significant Than Miles Morales,” on Komplicated.com
Nope, that’s not Peter Parker in the picture above. Which makes this Vote With Your Wallet time again for Marvel Comics fans. The appearance of this new web-slinger isn’t just a potential turning point for the comics business, but it’s the biggest in a series of moves over the years by Marvel to build more diversity into its’ highly-lucrative Spider-brand. Spoilers under the cut. Continue reading →
Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World