ENTERTAINING RACE: "MULTICULTURAL" SPIDER-MAN

Heads up. Its a brave new world we live in.

Miles Morales, the new face behind Marvel Comic’s most iconic mask.

We’ve been following the announcement of the new Spidey today, and we at the Tower are quietly optimistic about it.

Miles is definitely a step in the right direction if, and I stress the if, he is crafted as an interesting character. Not an interesting black character, not an interesting mixed, multi-ethnic character. But just an interesting character.

Now, we may just be getting our feet wet in the entertainment industry, but I’d like to take a bold step and say what no other article I’ve read today has said yet: Peter Parker is white. Miles Morales is intentionally not white. Miles inheriting the tights from Peter makes him an important gateway character, and allows a certain type of appeal that a white character cannot wield. This appeal should be respected, and capitalized upon, but it should not define a character like Spider-Man.

Writer of the Miles Morales comic, Brian Bendis (a white man), when speaking about his adopted African and African American children noted that “Wouldn’t it be nice for them to have a character or a hero that speaks to them as much as Peter Parker has spoken to so many children…There’s nothing wrong with that, and I think we need more of it.”

I agree, but there are two ways to look at that statement. You might say, “so many children” is code for white children, but really it’s not. Peter Parker is iconic and recognizable to the point that even non white fans, such as myself, can relate to him. Why? Because though Peter may always be portrayed as white, as a character, he’s what I like to call “race neutral.” You could take a Spider-Man script, not cast any white actors, and still end up with a good story that resonates with audiences. The fact that he’s white isn’t the cornerstone of his story. He’s white, but he doesn’t have to be. When you explain Peter Parker to someone, you don’t feel compelled to say, ‘this is a white teenager with spider powers.’ For a while it looked like he wasn’t going to be.

I personally would’ve preferred having Donald Glover as a black Peter Parker.  It would have made a statement about what is integral to the Spider-Man mythos and made a step towards healing a wounded Hollywood. That said, I am happy that Miles Morales is a black/Latino Spider-Man. I know because he’s the first there’s going to be some comment on it somewhere, but I hope they don’t dwell on it. What makes a lot of iconic heroes iconic, is that they’re everymen. They may usually be white, but their roles are race neutral, and its the story, themes and actions that make them lovable. Not necessarily what they look like, or a multicultural specific agenda, or white specific agenda.

So to the extent the the writers can make Miles a hero, and not a “hero for our times”, or a “hero for diversity”, but just a hero he has my full support.

After watching this interview with Axel Alonso, Marvel Editor-in-Chief, we are hopeful. Their hearts seem to be in the right place.

there goes another black man..
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