Miles Morales' Comic Backstory (& What The Spider-Verse Movie Changes)

Sony's animated Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse movie is the big-screen debut of Miles Morales, a.k.a. the Ultimate Spider-Man. That means the film will be the first time many viewers meet Miles (voiced by Shameik Moore) but make no mistake: he's been popular in the comics ever since his creation back in 2011.

In the comics, Miles originates from the so-called Ultimate Universe, and he took over as Spider-Man after the death of his universe's Peter Parker. The decision to kill off the classic Spider-Man and replace him with a half-black, half-Hispanic teen was a controversial one at the time, but had the blessing of Stan Lee himself, who felt that "trying to make our nation, and the world, color blind is definitely the right thing." Miles is the birth of a new "everyman hero," and his movie debut honors that origin perfectly.

Related: Every Easter Egg You Missed in Into The Spider-Verse

Seven years after his introduction to Marvel Comics, not only has Miles been accepted by fans, but he's the star of his own animated movie, being praised widely enough to make a sequel or franchise practically guaranteed. But who is Miles Morales, and how comic-book-accurate is Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse?

The Origin of Miles Morales (And Peter Parker's Death)

In the early 2000s, Marvel launched a new franchise they called the "Ultimate Universe." This was an alternate universe in which Marvel's classic heroes were reinvented in a modern context; it's actually served as the inspiration for a lot of the MCU origin stories. Because this wasn't the main continuity, writers were free to take risks that the publisher would ordinarily shy away from. The most staggering example was in 2011, when Marvel decided the time was right to kill the Ultimate Peter Parker and replace him with a brand new Spider-Man. Writer Brian Michael Bendis worked closely with artist Sara Pichelli to design Miles, and they took inspiration in part from African-American actor Donald Glover's online audition for the lead role in 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man.

The "Death of Spider-Man" arc saw Peter Parker die in a final, brutal battle with the Green Goblin. Peter died in the arms of Mary Jane and his Aunt May, at peace because he had given his life protecting them. As far as Peter was concerned, this sacrifice was an act that redeemed him for his failure to save Uncle Ben. It was a heartbreaking moment, but it wasn't the end of the Ultimate Spider-Man range. Instead, Marvel relaunched it with a brand new hero. In the first issue, the young Miles Morales was bitten by a genetically-altered spider when he visited his Uncle Aaron's house. Though he didn't know it, Aaron Davis was a criminal, a sneak-thief who'd broken into Oscorp to see what he could steal; he'd inadvertently brought that spider with him along with the goods he stole. When Miles finally began to understand what was going on, he concluded that the world needed a Spider-Man after all.

Miles' Powers are Different Than Peter Parker's

Miles Morales Spider-Man

Miles has a slightly different powerset to Peter Parker's. He shares many of the basic Spider-Man abilities; he's fast, strong, agile, and can stick to walls. But he has additional powers that Peter could never have imagined; the most notable is that Miles can generate a bioelectrical shock that he calls a "Venom Blast." This is a powerful energy blast that attacks the nervous system, and it's able to render even some of the most physically powerful foes unconscious. Miles has been able to one-shot the likes of Giant-Man and even Venom with this Venom Blast, and it's no surprise he's able to use it against the Kingpin in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. This power does have its limits, though; it needs to "recharge" after use, meaning Miles can't just blast everyone aside relentlessly.

RELATED: Spider-Woman's Backstory & Movie Future Explained

Miles possesses one other power as well; the ability to camouflage himself and his clothing, essentially turning invisible. In the comics, this "active camouflage" power was initially something Miles found himself doing instinctively, and it took him quite some time to gain control of it. In fact, one scene in the movie - where he struggles to turn invisible "on command" - is lifted straight from the comics. Miles has grown more confident in this power, though, and can now use it to launch sneak attacks or to infiltrate enemy bases. The idea is faithfully reproduced in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.

Miles' Uncle Is (Still) The Prowler

Of course, in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, Miles' beloved Uncle Aaron isn't just shady; he's actually a super-villain in his own right. Aaron Davis is really the Prowler, a sinister killer who works for the Kingpin. This particular plot twist is lifted straight from the comics, and explains why Miles' dad doesn't like him going round to see his uncle.

The comic book version of Aaron Davis isn't open to redemption. When he learned that Miles was secretly the new Spider-Man, he saw an opportunity to try to use his nephew as a tool in order to rise through the ranks of the criminal underworld. Needless to say, it didn't go well, and the Prowler has since become Miles' most notable nemesis. He even formed a recent incarnation of the Sinister Six, and led them in an attack on his own nephew.

Page 2 of 2: Miles Morales' Future in Spider-Man Movies

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Key Release Dates
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) release date: Dec 14, 2018
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