For decades now Americans of all ages have come to know and love Peter Parker, the superpower-bearing superhero better known as Spider-Man. Started in 1962 by comic book legend Stan Lee, Spider-Man has since become one of the best known superheroes in the world, with multimillion-dollar movies to his name and hundreds of comics dedicated to his trials and tribulations.
After almost 50 years of fighting crimes, however, Parker met his end in Ultimate Spider-Man issue 160, released in June. The Green Goblin finally killed him, and Parker will soar through the air no more. But the death of Parker does not mean the death of Spider-Man. In a development that’s sure to prove controversial, writers are replacing Parker with Miles Morales, a biracial teenager whose ethnic makeup is part Black and part Latino. Say hello to a new era of Spidey.
“What you have is a Spider-Man for the 21st century who's reflective of our culture and diversity,” said Marvel Comics editor in chief Axel Alonso. “We think that readers will fall in love with Miles Morales the same way they fell in love with Peter Parker.”
Like their boss, staffers at Marvel are also amazingly excited about the change in Spider-Man’s look, with Marvel artist Sara Pichelli saying, “Maybe sooner or later a Black or gay—or both—hero will be considered something absolutely normal.” It’s a really great step in the right direction for comics and the hero genre in general, but it’s also one that’s bound to encounter blowback in a society that likes to call itself “post-racial,” but which really isn’t.
Earlier this year, some whites boycotted the film Thor to protest Black actor Idris Elba being cast as Heimdall. The Council of Conservative citizens called Elba’s casting an “insulting multi-cultural make-over.” So far there’s been no major public outcry over Spider-Man being brown now, but, if past is prologue, it’s probably not out of the question. Thankfully, Marvel doesn’t seem like it’s going to budge on its decision. It’s time for people to know that heroes come in all colors.
(Photo: AP Photo/Marvel Comics)