Every once in a while, there appears a new comics event so big, so important, that even the mainstream media outlets look up and take notice. This is exactly what happened in 2011 when writer Brian Michael Bendis introduced a new Spider-Man to the world: Miles Morales, a boy of black/Hispanic descent, newly gifted with arachnid abilities that empower him to carry on the legacy of his hero, the amazing Spider-Man.
With Miles Morales in the picture, the world now has two Spider-Men swinging around. And while Peter Parker may be the most iconic hero of the Marvel Universe, Miles Morales has already made a lot of waves. Just as the teenage Peter was torn between love and responsibility, his duty to protect others and his desire to have a normal life, so is Miles.
Beloved by his fans, this contemporary Spider-Man is one of the biggest new Marvel characters of the decade. He’s currently playing a big role in the ongoing Marvel event, Civil War II — though it’s not a role he wants to play — and it’s an almost sure bet that we’ll be seeing a lot more of Miles in the near future. So, while this quirky new web-slinger is still getting a running start, get the inside scoop on 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Miles Morales.
15. Barack Obama Inspired the Character… and so did Donald Glover
Stan Lee and others have said in the past that they believe part of Spider-Man’s enormous success, other than the strength of the storyline itself, is his mask: those big eyes cover his entire face, meaning that anyone — from any race, country, or creed — could, theoretically, be behind the mask. Anyone could be Spider-Man.
In 2008, Marvel began discussing the idea of taking this concept to the next level, during the election of Barack Obama as 44th president of the United States. The swearing-in of America’s first black president opened a lot of doors, and in comics, it gave the writers a desire to embrace the increasingly multicultural progression of the United States. If Spider-Man could be anyone, the writers felt it was important to show that.
Talk of creating a “black Spider-Man” continued. The event which finally convinced writer Brian Michael Bendis to go for it was when actor Donald Glover, a star of the postmodern sitcom Community and also a hip hop performer under the stage name Childish Gambino, actively campaigned for the role of Peter Parker in Sony’s 2012 Amazing Spider-Man reboot. Though Glover was never cast, his push for the role directly resulted in the creation of Miles Morales.
14. He Replaced Peter in the Ultimate Universe, not Mainstream Marvel
In the original storyline that brought Miles Morales into the world, he inherits the role of Spider-Man after Peter Parker is killed in action. This might be confusing to non-fans, since in current comics, Peter is still alive and well.
Here’s the deal: Miles was created within the Ultimate line of comics, a parallel universe that chronicled the beginnings of Marvel’s famous superheroes, and updated them with contemporary sensibilities. Ultimate Spider-Man, which originally presented a modern day Peter Parker becoming Spider-Man for the first time, was just one part of the line; there was also Ultimate X-Men, Ultimate Fantastic Four, and the Ultimates (basically the Avengers, with a reality show twist). While the mainstream Marvel Universe, and many aspects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, have pulled inspiration from the Ultimate comics, they were not intended to be a part of mainstream continuity. Basically, think of Ultimate Marvel as a sort of mirror universe.
So in the Ultimate Universe, when a still-teenage Peter Parker is killed, an even younger kid named Miles Morales happens to see this event occur, and is inspired to take up the mantle of his fallen idol. However, this event did not impact the “regular” Spider-Man of Marvel’s principal Earth-616.
13. But there Was a Miles Morales in the Regular Marvel Universe, Too
This then raises an obvious question. If the Ultimate Universe is a mirror dimension to the mainstream Marvel Universe — the latter of which, by the way, is referred to by fans as the “616” universe — with alternate versions of classic characters, it would imply that characters created directly for the Ultimate line would have counterparts in the regular Marvel Universe, too. Right?
In the 2012 limited series Spider-Men, the Peter Parker of the “616” Marvel Universe falls through an interdimensional rift created by Mysterio, and finds himself in the Ultimate Universe. Here, he meets the new Spider-Man, Miles Morales (who is probably even more shocked than Peter is, honestly) and, working together, they are able to defeat Mysterio and send Peter back to his own universe. Before leaving, he grants Miles his blessing as the Spider-Man of his world.
When Peter gets back, though, he’s as curious as everyone else. Who is the Miles of the Marvel Universe? What is he like? To find out, Peter does what anyone else would do: he Googles it. Though the readers never get to see what exactly Peter finds, his shocked reaction is a sign that whatever happened to this version of Miles, it probably isn’t good.
12. The Ultimate Spider-Man Is Now Part of the Marvel Universe
Okay, now fasten your seatbelts. After the conclusion of the massive, multiverse shattering event Secret Wars, there is no more Ultimate Universe. Getting into the nitty-gritty of Secret Wars would take a longer article than this one. To keep it simple, when the character known as Molecule Man recreates the entire 616 Marvel Universe, he does Miles a solid by incorporating the new Spider-Man and his immediate family into the regular Marvel Universe, as if they had always been there in the first place.
Since Peter Parker is still alive, that means that the Marvel Universe now has two Spider-Men. This has become a trend recently, with other heroes, such as Captain America, also having multiple counterparts each doing their own thing simultaneously. While all this stuff complicates Miles’s backstory a bit, it also gives him the freedom to become a major Marvel character, instead of just a peripheral “alternate universe” one. If he’s ever introduced in a movie, we’d imagine they’ll probably skip the parallel universe backstory altogether.
11. He Was Also Bitten by a Spider
Miles gets his powers the same way that Peter does: a spider bite. But whereas Peter’s costumed identity is the result of a freak accident, Miles encounters his spider due to the criminal actions of his uncle.
It all begins when Dr. Conrad Markus, a researcher at Oscorp, attempts to recreate the company’s trademark Oz formula by experimenting with Peter Parker’s blood. At this point, Miles’s criminal uncle, Aaron Davis (we’ll talk more about him in a bit) breaks in and steals the Oz formula. While this is going on, one of the company’s Oz-enhanced spiders creeps into his bag. When Uncle Aaron comes back home and drops his bag off in his apartment, the spider comes with him… and makes itself at home.
Some time later, when Miles is visiting his uncle’s apartment — going against the wishes of his father, who doesn’t trust his criminal brother — the genetically modified spider creeps onto his hand and bites him, transferring its abilities to him.
10. He Wasn’t Too Happy About Getting Spider Powers
Though Peter often struggles with the burden of being Spider-Man, there’s no question that his first reaction to finding out about his new superhuman abilities was sheer excitement. Before Peter learns about great power and great responsibility, he sees these amazing powers as a way to break free from the isolated existence he has lived up until this point, seeking out fame and celebrity like a moth to the flame. It’s only after Uncle Ben’s death that Peter decides to use his powers for a greater cause.
For Miles, it goes a bit differently. Unlike Peter, who initially saw the spider powers as a gateway to fame, Miles is horrified by his new abilities and wants them to go away. He has no interest in being a celebrity, but also no interest in saving the world; he wants nothing more than to go back to having a normal, healthy, non-heroic life.
But just like with Peter, this new hero’s life changes when responsibility knocks on his door. Miles is a witness to Peter being killed, and the boy realizes that if he’d intervened, he could have saved the hero.
9. His Uncle is the Prowler
So hey, about Uncle Aaron…
Aaron Davis is the Prowler, a high-tech costumed burglar. Uncle Aaron’s criminal activities were once a duo act, as he teamed up with his brother Jefferson. This all changed when Jefferson met a woman named Rio Morales, and became a father (to Miles) casting aside his criminal past. This broke the relationship between the brothers, and Aaron has operated alone ever since.
As the Prowler, Aaron is Miles’s archenemy. Though not possessing any enhanced superpowers of his own, Prowler wields an array of high-tech weaponry, such as shockwave-emitting gauntlets and mechanical wings. Upon finding out the new Spider-Man’s identity, the Prowler uses it to blackmail his nephew into working for him. This eventually results in a violent conflict between the two, which ends with Aaron seemingly being killed by the unexpected explosion of his own shock gauntlet— but not before telling Miles how much the young man reminds him of himself.
8. Miles’ Powers Are a Bit Different
Is he strong? Listen bud…
So yes, Miles Morales can crawl walls, fling himself through the air, and lift up heavy objects like a champ. He even has an extrasensory sspider-sense that warns him of impending danger, though that ability isn’t as strong in him as it is in Peter. His webshooters are actually the same ones that Peter used, handed down to him when he meets Peter’s Aunt May.
But there’s more to Miles than meets the eye, and he possesses some new tricks up his sleeve. Take the “venom blast,” pictured above, which does drain his reserves and can thus only be employed in emergencies, but definitely has a sharp kick. Miles also possesses a venom sting, which can paralyze anyone he touches with only the slightest contact, no matter their size. The venom sting can cut right through most objects, including chains. It doesn’t quite compete with Wolverine‘s unbreakable claws, but it’s close.
7. He Had a Girlfriend
Peter Parker struggled with girls until graduating high school, and those struggles are pretty legendary. But the currently 14-year-old Miles has, so far, had better luck.
Katherine “Katie” Bishop is Miles’ classmate at Brooklyn Visions Academy, whom the young teenager soon forms a relationship with. The relationship goes strongly at first, and as they get closer, Miles even makes the big decision to reveal his secret identity to her. Unfortunately, Katie’s response to this is one of shock and dismay, and she ends up fleeing from him. Things get even more tangled when Katie finds out that her parents are secret agents of Hydra. Seriously, as if finding out your boyfriend is Spider-Man wasn’t already crazy enough.
Miles and Katie break up, though due to the events of Secret Wars casuing the end of, well…. the entire existence of the Ultimate Universe, it probably means that she doesn’t exist anymore, either. Is there a Katie Bishop in the regular Marvel Universe, whom Miles could get in touch with? (Not counting the female Hawkeye with the same name.) We’ll have to wait to find out.
6. His Mother was Killed by Police Gunfire
Katie Bishop isn’t the only person close to Miles who has been hurt, damaged, or outright killed off.
Unlike the many orphaned superheroes out there, Miles is lucky enough to have two living parents at the time he becomes Spider-Man. Though his father Jefferson isn’t too fond of superheroes or mutants, his mother, Rio Morales, is a fan. Unfortunately, Rio meets her end during a battle between Spider-Man and Venom, when stray police gunfire rips through her body. Rio passes away in her son’s arms, and in her dying moments, tells him never to inform his father about his costumed identity.
However, thanks to Molecule Man, Rio is now alive again. When Molecule Man brings Miles to the Marvel Universe, as mentioned before, he also brings along his immediate family. This includes Rio, now back from the dead and with no memory of having been killed before. Being Spider-Man doesn’t tend to involve getting many cosmic rewards, but this is one gift that Miles could not be happier about.
5. His Father Disowned Him
Miles Morales’s father is Jefferson Davis, who unfortunately shares a name with the former president of the Confederate States of America. During his younger years, Jefferson is a criminal, but when he leaves this lifestyle behind, he also leaves his brother Aaron behind as well.
Jefferson goes on to become a man deeply informed by his own moral code, and unwilling to ever compromise with what he believes is right or wrong. This leads him to dislike super powered vigilantes, mutants, and other figures he deems as operating outside the law. So when Spider-Man is forced to reveal his identity to his father, Jefferson’s response is one of deep anger; he blames Miles for the deaths of both his brother and his wife, and disowns him as a son.
4. Miles Might Kill Captain America
The image says it all. But hopefully it won’t happen that way.
Marvel’s current big event, Civil War II, is predicated on the idea of a battle between Iron Man and Captain Marvel, with the latter using the future-predicting powers of the Inhuman Ulysses to prevent potential future catastrophes from occurring, by whatever means necessary, while the other side sees it as wrong to punish people before they even commit a crime. Unfortunately for Miles, one of Ulysses’ visions is of him standing over the dead body of Steve Rogers, Captain America, in Washington DC.
Miles of course has no idea about any of this, until Captain Marvel’s forces begin tracking him down and trying to kill him. Miles tries to escape, and either coincidentally or not, makes his way to Washington DC, where he is confronted by Captain America, followed by Captain Marvel and Iron Man. Currently, this total mess of a situation is where the storyline has left us off, so we’ll have to wait until the next release before we know what happens.
3. He’s Already Appeared on TV
In the comic book world, one of the signs that a new character has hit the big leagues is when they make it to other media only a few years after their invention. In the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, Miles Morales made his television debut. Perfectly enough, this version of Miles was voiced by Donald Glover, bringing the story full circle.
Miles first appears during a storyline in which Peter Parker moves through alternate universes, encountering many different versions of Spider-Man. In this universe, Jefferson Davis seems to have died some time ago, and Rio is comfortable with Miles’ superheroic, wall-crawling, skyscraper-swinging lifestyle. Miles later returns with the alternate name “Kid Arachnid,” and he and his mother decide to become a part of Peter’s dimension.
Needless to say, Ultimate Spider-Man is a bit of a weird show, but it deserves credit for being the first media adaptation of this exciting new character.
2. There’s Been Some Interest in Bringing Him to the Big Screen – But Not Yet
So now here comes the big question: how and when will Miles make the jump to the big screen?
There’s no guarantee that he will, since Peter is a pretty iconic character. But we wouldn’t rule it out, either. Back before Spidey joined the MCU and Amazing Spider-Man was still a thing, actor Andrew Garfield expressed enthusiasm for the idea of Miles being brought into the picture.
When Sony and Marvel brokered their now-infamous deal, there was some fan debate that Marvel may use Miles instead of Peter, as a way of differentiating from the prior films. Now that Civil War is out, it’s hard to imagine the film without Peter’s trademark sense of humor, and given that we’ve now got the youngest Peter Parker yet, we’d imagine that we’ll be seeing this version of Spider-Man for a long time. But according to Kevin Feige, that doesn’t mean Miles won’t turn up at some point — though we’d imagine he’d be more likely to appear alongside Peter, as it is now in the comics, instead of replacing him.
Still, it is interesting that Donald Glover is set to appear in Spider-Man: Homecoming…
1. There is a Miles Morales “Spider-Ham” Too
One of the weirdest cult favorite Marvel characters is the Spectacular Spider-Ham, aka Peter Porker. Spider-Ham is a spider that was transformed into an anthropomorphic pig in a Spider-Man costume, existing in a rather weird parallel reality of other humanoid animals. Strange as it might sound, the adventures of Peter Porker actually carried an ongoing series for seventeen issues.
Peter Porker has returned on many occasions since, but he’s not the only swine in town: there’s also Miles Morhames, the Ultimate Spider-Ham.
Much as Peter Porker’s reality tells a story vaguely reminiscent of Peter Parker’s, the same is true for Miles Morhames, who receives his powers from a radioactive spider bite via a spider stolen by his criminal uncle the Fowler. Unlike Peter Porker, who is usually just played for laughs, Miles Morhames actually ends up playing something of a big role in the Ultimate Universe, as an advisor to the Future Foundation.
What other Miles Morales trivia is worth noting? Are you pulling for the character to make an appearance in the MCU in the very near future? Let us know in the comments!