Ever since his inception in 1962, Peter Parker — known around the world as “the Amazing Spider-Man” — has become a staple in pop culture. He’s headlined a number of comics, as well as video games and films. He’s inspired countless other characters, from Static Shock to Invincible. And he is the biggest superhero on the planet not named Batman or Superman. But in the past decade, another Spider-Man has made just as much of an impact as Peter. That Spider-Man? None other than Miles Morales, thanks to the massive impact of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. In fact, it’s the success of Into the Spider-Verse that has helped cement Miles not only as a perfect Spider-Man, but the Spider-Man for a generation while also showcasing how he’s surpassed his predecessor.
Miles’ Comic Book Origins
Created by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli, Miles first appeared in Ultimate Comics: Fallout #4. That lead to his own ongoing series, Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man, where he was bitten by a radioactive spider in the same vein as Parker. Unlike Parker, however, Miles grew scared of his powers — until he learned that Parker had perished in battle with the Green Goblin. Resolved to continue Parker’s legacy, Miles became the new Spider-Man and battled all manner of threats. This led to him finally meeting the main Spider-Man of Earth-616, and after the universe-shattering Secret Wars storyline from Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribić, Miles and Peter both became part of the same universe.
Yet throughout Bendis’ tenure on Miles, fans didn’t quite click with the younger Spider-Man. They felt that he lacked a defined personality, that he didn’t have any definitive villains, and that the writer tended to use his bioelectric “venom blast” as a way to quickly end battles. That all changed with the release of Into the Spider-Verse, as it expanded upon Miles’s character. And that wasn’t the only project to feature the young web-slinger: Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PS4 made its debut in the same year and featured Miles in a major supporting role, while Saladin Ahmed and Javier Garron launched a new ongoing Miles Morales: Spider-Man comic series. It was this trio of projects that started to separate Miles from Peter, and elevate him into the Spider-Man for a generation.
Miles’ Family Dynamics Are More Compelling
A major difference between the two is how their families play into their lives. Unlike Peter, Miles has the support of his father Jefferson as well as his mother Rio. Into the Spider-Verse paid close attention to the relationship between Miles and Jefferson, as Miles felt like he couldn’t connect to his father. However, becoming Spider-Man allows him to finally open up to Jefferson and the two have a stronger bond than ever. In contrast, Peter often kept his secret from his Aunt May, fearing that it would break her heart. Next year’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse looks to continue exploring Miles’ family bonds, this time focusing on his relationship with Rio.
And when it comes to family, there’s another major difference between Miles and Peter. Peter became Spider-Man due to the death of his Uncle Ben — a death he could have easily prevented. To this day, Ben remains a guiding force in the web-slinger’s life. Miles’ uncle Aaron is far from an inspirational force. In fact, he’s an unrepentant criminal who takes up the mantle of the Prowler. This crafts an interesting character dynamic, and serves as a radical departure from the usual trappings of the Spider-Man mythos. Even though Miles loves Aaron, he still comes to blows with him.
Miles Is an Artist, Not a Scientist
But the biggest thing that makes Miles a compelling character is his artistic side. In Into the Spider-verse, he’s shown to have a skilled hand at crafting art through spray paint. Even his Spider-Man suit features layers of black paint mixed with red, which pays homage to his suit from the comics. In the PS5 game Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Miles is shown to be interested in making mixtapes. And in Ahmed & Garron’s Miles Morales comic, he uses his creative writing class as a way to express his feelings about superheroism. This struck a chord with many fans and even launched the “Spidersona” movement, where they drew themselves as spider-powered beings. In contrast, while Peter’s scientific knowledge has served him well, he tended to fall into the same category as Marvel’s other heroes: Reed Richards, Bruce Banner, Tony Stark — all of them were scientific geniuses.
Miles Is More Open With His Emotions
Finally, Miles is more open with his emotions. He’s not afraid to cry, or to talk out his problems — whether it’s with his friend Ganke or his parents. In contrast, Peter would often shove his emotions down or mask them with Spider-Man’s trademark humor. And while that’s a good coping mechanism, Miles’ way seems far more healthy. When all is said and done, Miles Morales has become the Spider-Man for so many people. And Across The Spider-Verse looks like it won’t be changing that outlook any time soon.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse swings into theaters on June 2, 2023.