Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Miles Morales in the MCU

Image Courtesy en.wikipedia.org

As I mentioned in last week’s “Weekly MCU Review,” a group of small-time filmmakers produced a YouTube video based on Miles Morales becoming the new Spider-Man after Peter Parker’s death.  The video isn’t nearly as polished as your standard movie—not to say that I could do anything even half as good!—but it does bring up an intriguing possibility.  Specifically, what would an MCU Miles Morales look like?  Since we don’t have a new Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to look forward to tonight, let’s replace that with this.

First off, there’s the matter of timing:  when could or should Marvel introduce Miles Morales into the mix?  Simply put, I don’t think it should happen for at least another 5-10 years.  We haven’t even seen Tom Holland as Peter Parker in anything resembling an official promotional picture for Captain America: Civil War, his MCU debut.  His first solo film doesn’t even have an official title yet and is not coming out for another year and a half (July 2017).  After that, the rumor is that Marvel and Sony plan on producing a series of films with Peter in high school, followed presumably by a series of films with Peter out of high school.  And this is all on top of his various appearances in Avengers: Infinity War, other team-up movies, and even some spinoffs.  We’re going to be seeing a lot of Peter Parker over the next decade or so, and odds are pretty good that there’s enough material to make all of those appearances interesting.

With Peter Parker taking center stage, I do not think Miles Morales should make his debut for a while.  Instead, they should hold off on him until they start getting into a rut with Peter Parker.  When it’s time to freshen things up, that’s when they can throw Miles into the mix.

The next question to ask is “who”:  what kind of character should Miles Morales be?  And my answer is:  young.  In the comics, Miles Morales is even younger than Peter Parker when he receives his powers—middle school-age.  I would want to see the MCU follow suit by casting an actor for Mile Morales who is even younger at the time than Tom Holland is right now.  This way when Peter is the older established hero, Miles can be the one they bring in to add some young blood.  So, between this and the previous point, I really don’t think the actor to portray Miles Morales has been born yet!

Next up, how should Miles’ introduction go?  Personally I’m a fan of the way it happened in the comics, so I would want to see it go similarly.  Here are my two scenarios for how it could happen, which only differ based on Marvel’s plans for Peter Parker going forward.  However, I will preface this by saying that both scenarios begin largely the same way and include a Miles Morales sighting in the previous Spider-Man film, introducing the concept of Miles as a little kid who looks up to Spider-Man.  Perhaps this is even when Miles gets bitten by the radioactive spider.

Image Courtesy en.wikipedia.org
In both scenarios, the movie opens with Spider-Man fighting against the Green Goblin along with a couple of other minor villains, let’s say Chameleon, Vulture, Beetle, and Sandman.  Mary Jane (Parker) is there reporting on the fight.  At first Spider-Man is winning, but the Goblin slowly turns the tide against him.  When the Defenders (Hawkeye (Kate Bishop), Daredevil, and Cloak and Dagger) arrive to give Spider-Man some much-needed backup, Goblin decides it’s time to leave, dropping a building on Mary Jane as a distraction to cover his escape.  Spider-Man saves her from the falling debris, but in the process he himself is crushed.  They have a tragic moment together of her putting his head in her laps (the whole nine yards), and she pulls his mask off (revealing his identity to the world) and calls in a S.H.I.E.L.D. quinjet.  Meanwhile, the Defenders take Vulture, Beetle, and Sandman into custody, though they are visibly shaken by what happened and nearly kill Vulture in the process.

The screen shifts subtly to reveal that this is a news report which the Morales family is watching on the TV over breakfast.  Miles is in shock to see his hero lying on the ground motionless, subconsciously rubbing at the location where he had been bitten several months earlier.  Miles flashes back to the bite as well as his initial discovery of his abilities.  His dad interrupts his thoughts with a comment on how sad it is to see Spider-Man get hurt and possibly die, but that heroes are really just operating outside the law in any event, so he couldn’t have expected any less for his actions.  Miles bursts out that Spider-Man was a hero before running out to wait for the bus.

A couple weeks pass as Miles talks to his best friend, Ganke Lee (from the comics), about his guilt over what happened to Spider-Man:  because he has these powers, he thinks he should have been using them to help Spider-Man.  If he had been present on that day, the fight might have gone a different way.  There haven’t been any Spider-Man sightings since that fight, and the criminals are starting to get bolder.  Vulture and Beetle have even escaped custody and gone back to their criminal ways.  Eventually Miles realizes that he was given this power for a reason, and he needs to make use of it because someone has to stop the villains.

That night he puts together his first attempt at a Spider-Man costume and goes out to fight crime.  However, while he is out one of the Defenders, let’s say Hawkeye, confronts him and says that his knock-off Spider-Man costume is in poor taste.  The two of them go at it, but stop to help someone being attacked by Vulture.  Eventually they part ways with a lowered degree of animosity.

However, this encounter has a profound impact on Miles, who decides to go see Peter Parker’s family—Aunt May and Mary Jane—and tell them what he’d done.  He does so the next day after school, explaining to them that he’d received his powers in an accident and hidden them away out of fear.  However, he now feels tremendous guilt because he could have helped Peter and kept him from being killed.  May and Mary Jane tell him about Peter’s first time in the mask and explain that they do not blame him for what happened to Peter; he was doing what he loved by protecting people, and especially Mary Jane.  The visit ends when Mary Jane gets a call about a crime in progress being orchestrated by the Green Goblin.  Miles says he needs to stop him, and Aunt May and Mary Jane give him their blessing as well as Peter’s newest costume, the black-and-red suit.

Image Courtesy en.wikipedia.org
Miles arrives at the scene ahead of Mary Jane and engages the Goblin in battle, though the Goblin taunts him with Peter’s death.  Miles, being relatively green, is on the ropes before too long, but a couple of other heroes arrive to take the pressure off him:  Hawkeye and Daredevil.  The three heroes join together to defeat the Green Goblin and the other villains present, Beetle and Chameleon.  After the fight the other heroes accept Miles as the new Spider-Man and invite him to join the Defenders and learn how to fight crime from them.  After the fight, Miles has a moment in front of Peter’s grave:  “I know should have come sooner… I was ashamed to come, though… I feel like it was my fault.  I let you down.  But I will not let my power go to waste anymore; I won’t let anyone down again—I won’t let you down again.  You did your part to protect this city; now it’s my turn.”

If Marvel decides not to kill off Peter Parker, there are only a couple of changes necessary.  First, Peter Parker would replace Daredevil in the final scene, leading to a very touching moment as Miles comes face-to-face with his presumed-dead hero and the Green Goblin discovers that he failed to kill Peter.  In this scene we would learn that Peter was in a coma for over a month while his healing factor healed him; he only woke up less than a week previously—he found out about Miles in the hospital and instructed Mary Jane to give him the suit if she had the opportunity.  Second, instead of a scene at Peter’s grave, the movie would end with Peter accepting Miles as his sidekick and then the two of them swinging through New York City together.  Going forward from there, Peter might take more of an administrative role coordinating the Avengers and Defenders, while Miles does most of the actual crime fighting.  This would be a way to change things up for Peter Parker and keep his story fresh.  However, this may not be nearly as impactful as actually killing Peter Parker would be, especially after getting to know him for over a decade.

Between these two scenarios, I honestly think I like the idea of actually killing off Peter Parker to introduce Miles Morales better than keeping him alive.  In the case of Peter Parker, Uncle Ben’s death is the catalyst that drives him to become a hero—and that is a very powerful catalyst for him.  In the comics, Peter Parker’s death serves that same purpose for Miles Morales:  he could have saved Peter, but he didn’t because he was too afraid.  And I think that this could hold true in the MCU even better than it does in the comics.

So this is my vision for how Miles Morales could appear in the MCU.  In some respects, this would probably be a much darker story than we’ve seen yet in a MCU film, particularly with the exploration of grief.  However, I think it would be a very cool and powerful introduction for a new take on the Spider-Man character, one which could move the story forward in a completely different direction.  And at some point in the future, I do think that this kind of thing will be necessary if Marvel is going to continue to produce quality movies and shows.

Do you want to see Miles Morales join the MCU in the future?  How do you want to see him introduced?  What other Marvel characters do you want to see in a Spider-Man movie?  Let me know in the comments!

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