Days after a strange mandate surfaced online from Marvel to Sony dictating how Peter Parker must be depicted on film — Caucasian, not a drug dealer, not a pedophile, pretty heterosexual — Marvel’s comics side have placed Miles Morales, a half-black/half-Latino Spider-Man, into its main canonical stories. He’ll be starring in his own Spider-Man series beginning with Spider-Man #1 this fall.
“Our message has to be it’s not Spider-Man with an asterisk, it’s the real Spider-Man for kids of color, for adults of color and everybody else,” says series writer Brian Michael Bendis in an interview with the New York Daily News. “Many kids of color who when they were playing superheroes with their friends, their friends wouldn’t let them be Batman or Superman because they don’t look like those heroes but they could be Spider-Man because anyone could be under that mask … It’s meant a great deal to a great many people.”
The difference only matters to the hardest of hardcore readers, but it’s the small steps of social progress that add up to the big leaps.
Right now in the Marvel comics universe, everything is going bonkers. Parallel universes are ending or unfolding unto one another, in a major cross-title event still going on called Secret Wars.
Miles Morales inhabits the “Ultimate” Marvel universe, a separate universe from the core Marvel canon that has been around since the 1960s. Like Peter, Miles was bitten by a radioactive spider that confers superpowers on him. When Peter Parker was killed in action, Miles inherited his Spider-Man mantle to become the “Ultimate” Spider-Man.
But Secret Wars has changed everything, and Miles now finds himself in the main Marvel’s universe, lost in a New York City different from his own.