In an article in USA Today, Marvel’s revealed the hidden identity of the new Spider-Man in their Ultimates line title Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man. A “re-imagining” of the regular storylines and characters of the classic Marvel comics, the Ultimate books have given a more modern take on characters like Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, and the X-Men.
Primarily guided by longtime Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis, the title’s been a longtime favorite with fans and the inspiration behind several recent and upcoming animated and live-action adaptations of Spider-Man. Anyway, in the Ultimate line, the character of Peter Parker as Spider-Man recently battled a group of his enemies after barely surviving being shot saving the hero known as Captain America. He dies in that battle, with the whole of New York City showing up for his hero’s funeral.
ANYWAY, since then Marvel has announced that an all-new character in the book will be taking on the role of Spider-Man, a character whose identity has been kept a closely-guarded secret until today.
His name is Miles Morales. And according to the comic’s creative team, he’s half-black, half-Hispanic.
I know, shocking, right? That a comic book set in New York City includes a character that isn’t white? Aren’t you just shaken to the core over this sort of racial stunt casting by Marvel Comics?
No? Yeah, neither am I. I don’t even know what “racial stunt casting” means, although apparently it’s something people at Bleeding Cool think goes on. The decision apparently was in part influenced (or at least pushed to the forefront) by the Internet campaign and ensuing debate about race in comics over Donald Glover (of TV’s “Community” fame) being considered and a fan-favorite to portray Peter Parker in 2012′s upcoming film “The Amazing Spider-Man” (a role that ultimately went to actor Andrew Garfield from “The Social Network” and is white).
Now granted, I’m going to admit that part of me is indifferent to the actual identity of the man beneath the mask due to the fact that I’m not a huge Spider-Man fan. I have no serious attachment to the character of Peter Parker, who’s been so tied to the iconic red-and-blue costumed character.
I do understand that there’s been a lot of reaction to the concept of someone other than the character named Peter Parker being Spider-Man. Do I think that the hullabalo would be significantly less if the new character was white?
And in in 2011, that’s a terribly sad thing. Sad that terms like “minority stunt casting” and “token” and “I’m not racist but…/not to sound racist but I just want to point out…” are still coming up in this discussion. It’s not “I want Peter Parker instead of a new character,” it’s “Why is there a NON-WHITE PERSON playing at being a superhero?”.
Of course, whatever sort of ideas people might have about how this story goes, why this particular character is the new Spider-Man, and so forth are pretty useless. After all, the story won’t even appear until tomorrow’s comics! How could anyone other than the publishers and creative team actually know what’s going on when the goddamn comic hasn’t even appeared on stands yet?
We’ll just have to see what the future holds for the character and the title, and just how deep some people’s insecurities and racism run. Because let’s be honest, that’s pretty much what this controversy is boiling down to.