My Connection with Spider-Man

Jan 5, 2019

With the 2019 Golden Globes around the corner and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse being heavy contender in the Best Animated Picture category, I wanted to reflect on the film, Spidey in general, and its importance to me.

Let’s be honest, this film had me the moment the Approved by the Comics Code Authority logo appeared on the screen. But seriously though, let me begin with why Spider-Man and this film has had such a great impact on me. Spider-Man has been my favorite superhero since the moment I even learned what superheroes were. I’m not just talking about Peter Parker, Spider-Man. I’m talking what Spider-Man, the character represents. What separates Spider-Man from other superheroes is that he was a typical flawed kid. He wasn’t this indestructible being, he wasn’t this rich kid, and he didn’t definitely didn’t always have his life together. He went to school, he dealt with bullies, he worked a regular job, helped his aunt may. He was fumbling about prior to getting bit by a spider and it continued even after obtaining his abilities. No matter what though, he was a kid who always just tried doing the right thing, even if it didn’t go his way. Spider-Man felt like someone I could personally connect to.

Spider-Man felt like a character anyone could be. You, Me, Male, Female, anyone. As Lee explained in an 1977 interview, Spider-Man is just a normal guy.

You bet, I followed Spider-Man throughout the 90’s, with the Fox Animated series. I even watched the reruns of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. I followed Spidey through the 2000’s where we got Sam Raimi’s trilogy, two Amazing Spider-Man films and his introduction into the MCU. Oh and of course, there were multiple television series along the way. Throughout all that time, whether I was 5 years old or 25, my love for the character was always there.

Now throughout the years, we’ve seen multiple characters take on the “Spider-Man” moniker. No matter the situation, or story arc, or one-off’s, in the end for the most part Peter Parker has been front and center as the primary Spider-Man. Then in 2011, Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli introduced the world to Parker’s successor in the Ultimate Universe, his name was Miles Morales. Miles is a half African-American, half Puerto Rican teenager living in Brooklyn who was bit by a spider similar to Pete. He was a kid, going day by day, similar to Peter when we first meet Peter Parker. One of the big differences in their stories is Miles just wanted to live a normal life and despised his abilities early on. In this universe, Peter dies during a battle between the Green Goblin and it is after Miles witnesses Parker’s death that Miles decides to take up the mantle. The big similarity between the two was their internal struggle and trying to figure out who they were a person, as a superhero.

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First of all, this story was absolutely brilliant. Yes, I was in tears reading as my favorite hero of all time had fallen and was in Mary Jane’s arms. At the same time, Marvel manages to cushion the blow by introducing this fresh face to this ever-expanding universe and despite early backlash from some critics, it ends up being a hit. Similar to Parker, Miles goes on a journey of learning how to control his powers, and honing his abilities as a hero. He takes on a costume similar to Peter’s early on against his fight against Kangaroo but spectators, during the fight, shout that the costume is in bad taste, especially after the city just lost their original Spider-Man. He manages to take down Kangaroo but it’s a clumsy effort nonetheless.  He was another kid out of his element trying to do right.

Not only that, but Miles is a minority, which was another reason why I felt this personal connection to the character. Of course I can’t leave out mentioning Miguel O’Hara (Spider-Man 2099) and Anya Corazon (Arana/Spider-Girl) as well, I’m a strong advocate for diversity and representation in comic books so I will also say this was a huge selling point for me when Miles was introduced. During the Ultimate Fallout story arc and going into Ultimate Comics All-New Spider-Man #1, it was like the first time I was reading Peter Parker’s story as a kid. Miles even looked up to Parker the way I did. It was as if my love for the Spider-Man character had been renewed.

Don’t worry, I’m almost done… Let’s move on to the film…

Now this isn’t a full review of the film. In fact, you can check out our review of the film here, done by EmansMovieReviews.

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, for the unengaged or if you weren’t listening, is a film about Miles Morales journey to becoming Spider-Man. We have seen in numerous films, and TV adaptions of in the past of Peter Parker’s Spider-Man. But this is the first time outside of the comics I mentioned, that fans have been able to witness Miles front and center. Now this alone, is a beautiful feat. a now those who aren’t invested into comics as I am are being introduced to such an important character. The new generation of kids and especially kids of color are seeing that they too can be Spider-Man right before their eyes. Seeing the look on my son’s face when we walked out of the film, he said his favorite Spider character was Miles and I told him that Miles was half-Puerto Rican like he was, was absolutely priceless. You could see him really thinking on this, as he quietly worded back “like me?”

In the film, he meets Peter Parker, along with Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Ham and Peni Parker all of which hail from different universes and are brought together when Kingdom activates a world altering device that threatens everyone’s livelihood. So not only are we seeing Miles on the big screen for the first time, but we are introduced to an even larger group of diverse individuals all taking up the Spider mantle in their respective universes. One of which is Peni Parker, who is an 9-year-old Asian girl from the future. The actress behind the character, Kimiko Glenn says it best in a video regarding the vast representation in Spider-Verse:

This is what I mean and I am sure Stan Lee meant by Spider-Man could be anyone. Representation absolutely matters, and seeing it so clearly in a film such as this one, with a character I looked up to as a child is truly something.

What I guess I’m saying is, I’m thrilled thanks to films such this one, more and more fans young and old can hopefully look at Spider-Man the same way I always have and find that connection the way I did.

As the film wraps, Miles Morales states as he is swinging throughout New York City, “Anyone can wear the mask. You can wear the mask!”

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