On Monday June 17th, Sony announced the release dates for THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 3 and 4. The instant I heard about this I thought of the many story-lines that I would love to see on the big screen. Kraven’s Last Hunt came to mind, so did a new version of Venom, but most of all I wanted to see the origin of MILES MORALES.
Bringing Miles Morales to the big screen would be so awesome! I wouldn’t change his origin story much from the comics, it was perfect.
Imagine this: In the third installment of The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker is fighting the biggest battle of his life. The Green Goblin has assembled Peter’s greatest enemies to attack Peter in front of all the people Petey loves most- Aunt May, Mary Jane Watson, and Gwen Stacy (if she isn’t dead yet). As his family and the entire world watches, Peter saves the day… then dies from his injuries.
Killing off a major character is a sure fire way to sell issues in the comic industry. A superhero movie featuring the death of an iconic character would be monumental.
Here is the best part; prior to Peter’s death, we are introduced to a young boy named Miles Morales. Miles is a similar character to Peter; young, book-smart and neurotic. Miles gets bitten by a radioactive spider from Ozcorp, similar to the one that bit Peter. The bite gives him powers but he is a reluctant hero, wanting to be “normal” and not have to change his life plans to become a superhero.
Then, he sees Peter die and realizes he could have stopped it. He understands that “with great power comes great responsibility” because of the guilt of knowing he could have helped save Peter- the torch is passed. The fourth movie becomes Miles’ story. The franchise could have a 5th, 6th, 7th, and even an 8th movie! It is freaking genius.
So what actor could be cast to bring the awesome character Miles Morales to life?
Before I go through the top five choices, let me make it clear- RACE MATTERS. In fact, let me upset some more people- SKIN COLOR MATTERS. Miles Morales is one of the best characters in comics, no matter the race or skin color; due to Brian Michael Bendis’ excellent writing on Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man, Miles’ empathetic story and his connectable supporting characters. But don’t get it twisted- as great as Miles is from a color blind standpoint (even though this standpoint does not actually exist)- his significance is even more vital because RACE and SKIN COLOR MATTER.
MILES is half African American and half Latino, adding much needed diversity to the Marvel Universe. Both are underrepresented demographics in a universe whose predominantly marketed characters are still the ones created in the 1940’s and 1960’s. I am still baffled by how the comic industry has so few Latino superheroes. Latinos make up 16.4 % of America (as of the 2010 census) and are the fastest growing demographic. Blacks make up 12.6 %, yet most of the major representations of black superheroes on the big screen have been side characters (although Blade did excellent in theaters and sparked the comic/movie craze). America is diverse and RACE MATTERS because we deserve a Marvel universe that features characters that tell our stories and have our histories.
SKIN COLOR MATTERS because Hollywood has always discriminated against those with darker skin. Name five actors who can play Miles Morales without reading ahead. I feel confident guessing that most white folk reading only named Jaden Smith or Donald Glover, and a bunch of people got Donald Glover’s name wrong (remember- Donald is the young, funny, dorky, black guy; Danny is the older, non-threatening, supporting character, black guy). K, call me racist, but it is true.
SKIN COLOR MATTERS because one of the most stereotyped groups in all of America are black teen-aged males. The fact that most people cannot name five good black teenage male actors does not mean there are not a million talented black teenage male actors; it means that our society has not allowed this demographic the opportunity to shine. This is one of the major reasons we need a BLACK teenage superhero. Sure Spider-Man wears a mask, but kids need a hero that looks like them, that tells their story. While he is half Latino, he is not very light skinned; he is not Euro-Latino; he is BLACK!
So now that we have made that clear, here it is:
The Top Five Actors To Play Miles Morales!
Tyler James Williams – Tyler is an accomplished actor whose credits include Little Bill, Sesame Street, the Disney flick Let It Shine and, the role he is best known for, Everybody Hates Chris. His voice is a little high for the role, and he is a little older, but I could see him playing Miles. He could play an excellent innocent bookish nerd with major guilt issues.
Larramie “Doc” Shaw – If you don’t now who Doc Shaw is, you either don’t watch Tyler Perry shows, or don’t have any young family members. He starred as Malik Payne in Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, and is a Disney star that was on both The Suite Life on Deck and Pair of Kings. He is a funny dude who could bring in his hordes of teenie-bopper fans.
Donald Glover – Donald is waaaaay tooo old, but still waaaaay too great to leave off this list. The Community star has all the characteristics to be Spider-Man- he is a neurotic, everyday nerd with massive appeal! When The Amazing Spider-Man was being cast, a campaign went viral requesting Donald be cast as Spidey. He was even endorsed by Stan “The Man” Lee himself. Although he, unfortunately, did not get the role, Miles Morales’ co-creator Brian Michael Bendis stated the character was influenced by Donald’s looks. Donald Glover is already pretty much Miles Morales!
Roshon Fegan – Roshon is another Disney star that starred in Camp Rock and is currently on Shake It Up ( a show I enjoy waaaaay too much). He would not be my first pick for the part because Miles, like Peter, is an everyday person, with insecurities and faults. Roshon is a little too perfect and he comes off as cocky. Also, the half Filipino actor does not look like Miles, heck, he even has dimples, and Miles is no dimply pretty-boy. Roshon was put on this list due to his status as a popular teen star.
Jaden Smith – I had to go there. Jaden is known for his roles in The Pursuit of Happiness, The Karate Kid and After Earth as well as for being the son of Will freakin Smith. Jaden is sooooo hateable, mainly cause he was born into Hollywood royalty and also because… he is very talented. Hate all you want, haters– Jaden is taking the ball and running with it. Is he the best Miles Morales? Heck no, he doesn’t even look much like him, but he is the highest profile actor that could make Miles seem more legit to an audience that may see Miles as just “that damn black Spider-Man”.
Honorable mention (and to prove that there are more than five black actors you should be paying attention to):
Tristan Wilds (90210 and The Wire) – he looks too much like a football player and he’s got dimples!
Kwesi Boakye (I Can Do Bad All By Myself) – a lil too Ghanaian (hey, nothing about this column is PC)
Romeo Miller (AKA Lil Romeo, he was in Madea’s Witness Protection and Jumping the Broom) – a lil too pretty boy-ish
There you go, who would you cast?