by Ryan Almodovar
Last week it was revealed that Marvel Comics will be replacing the secret identity of Spiderman, the company’s flagship wall crawler, from Peter Parker to a new character named Miles Morales – a change made notable by the fact that this new character is half black and half Latino. TV personality and faux-pundit Stephen Colbert immediately criticized the move by Marvel, stating, “What’s his back story? Was he a black guy bitten by a radioactive Hispanic?” As somewhat of a diehard Spidey fan, I find myself on the fence about the changing of the guard that is occurring with my favorite superhero.
Comic book superheroes have actually had a long history of changing the men and women behind the masks. There have been several iterations of the Flash and countless Green Lanterns (which actually gives a handy out-clause should Ryan Reynolds not want to be in the bomb that will be Green Lantern 2), but this is probably the first time that such a change has been made to an iconic character. Granted, the world Miles Morales will inherit is considered a part of the ‘Ultimates’ universe, a reboot of the Marvel heroes that started in 2000 to bring the characters to a new generation – a more diverse generation. It’s no secret that Marvel has made a push to make its super lineup more ethnically diverse, by adding other diverse characters within the Ultimate series. For example, Tony Stark of Iron Man fame is half Latino (birth name: Antonio Stark), and Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. became black in order to match his movie counterpart in Samuel L. Jackson.
Race has suddenly become kind of a touchy issue in the world between the pages, as not everyone is receptive to the new cast of emerging characters. Some will claim, ignorantly, that the pantheon of comic book characters is a kind of ‘whites only’ club, and that any kind of change should be rejected. This argument clearly has no grounds, but I am concerned about the sense of staying true to developed characters. For example, it was rumored that Will Smith had auditioned for starring role in “Captain America: The First Avenger.” When I heard this rumor, I initially thought that this is something that I wouldn’t mind seeing – Smith is a somewhat accomplished actor and seeing a re-imagined version of the Star Spangled Man might be refreshing. Ultimately, it would break with how I know and understand the character. While I’m sure Mr. Morales will bring a new depth to our friendly neighborhood Spiderman, I doubt I’ll ever be able to associate Spidey with anyone other than Peter Parker. There’s nothing wrong with this – just a fact that I don’t think is easily changed.
Miles Morales makes his debut in an issue titled ‘Ultimate Fallout #4’, which is due for release in early September, and admittedly I am planning to check out his adventures – if only to see if he has what it takes to be the man behind the mask.
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the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.