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Will we ever see Miles Morales in an MCU movie?

When it comes to obscure characters, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has done some deep digging into the considerable archives of the House of Ideas. Forget about Rocket Raccoon and Groot being the most popular characters in the most successful franchise of all time — we've seen Exitar the Exterminator, the Collector, Proxima Midnight, Arnim Zola, Crossbones, and Taserface. No, really. He's in Guardians 2. There are a dozen more characters lurking around the Marvel movies that would send even a die-hard fan scrambling for the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe to find out just who was on the screen.

Here's the thing, though. While they've done a solid job with the obscure characters, there are still plenty of top-tier Marvel characters who have yet to make it to the MCU, including a few household names. Like, for instance, Spider-Man. No, not that Spider-Man. We're talking about Miles Morales, Peter Parker's teenage successor. So will we ever see him in the MCU? Let's do some spectacular speculation to see how likely it is.

The origin story of an origin story

If you don't know who Miles Morales is off the top of your head, the simple answer is that he's Spider-Man. The more complicated answer is that he's a Spider-Man. The much more complicated answer is ... well, let's talk about the early 2000s publishing strategy of Marvel Comics. Don't worry, it's not as boring as it sounds. We hope.

Back in Y2K, Marvel launched Ultimate Spider-Man, a reboot of their flagship character that was designed to appeal to newer readers. The series was the product of rising star Brian Michael Bendis, who was mostly known for hard-edged crime comics, and veteran Spidey artist Mark Bagley. Basically, while the main Marvel Universe kept trucking along like it always had, Ultimate Spider-Man rebooted Spidey with a modern sensibility, and it lacked the complex continuity that had made main-line Spidey so daunting in the aftermath of stories like the infamous Clone Saga. Instead, classic stories were either expanded or changed to make things fresh for the people who'd been Spider-fans for a while. For example, Spider-Man's original appearance in 1963 was only 12 pages long. Ultimate Spider-Man told that same story over a full six issues, decompressing things and adding a little more personality to characters like Uncle Ben and Aunt May.

The book was a massive hit, particularly with new readers who were getting in on the ground floor and picking up Ultimate Spider-Man paperbacks in bookstores and comic shops alike. Before long, there was an entire Ultimate Universe running alongside the main-line Marvel books, and they were so popular that the mid-2000s had plenty of fan speculation that Marvel might just ditch their established universe in favor of the Ultimate line. Through it all, though, Spider-Man remained the flagship character, just as he had in the regular universe. 

As a result, Bendis was launched into a career as the top writer in comics, with long runs on The Avengers, X-Men, and pretty much every other piece of the Marvel Universe (and these days, he's across the street at DC on the Superman titles), and he and Bagley collaborated on a record-breaking 111 straight issues, eclipsing the previous uninterrupted creative team record of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby on 108 issues of Fantastic Four.

Meet Miles Morales

Ultimate Spider-Man was initially just Peter Parker with a worse haircut, and that's who the book was about for its entire 160-issue run, from 2000 to 2011. Then, in a story called "The Death of Spider-Man," Peter was ... well, you can probably figure that one out from the title, although as you might expect, that "death" was about as permanent as anyone else's in comics. The specifics involved a battle against the Ultimate Universe's version of the Sinister Six, but the result was that Peter Parker was gone.

Spider-Man, however, stuck around — or at least, a Spider-Man did, with a new character created by Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli. Shortly before Peter's untimely demise, a teenager named Miles Morales was bitten by a genetically enhanced spider and gained the ability to do whatever a spider can, assuming that a spider can do all the regular stuff plus turn invisible and shock its enemies with bio-electrical "venom" blasts. With Peter gone, Miles became the Spider-Man of the Ultimate Universe, wearing a black and red variant of Spidey's original costume.

While it might seem a little weird for someone they'd never met (or even heard of) to take on their dearly departed friend and/or nephew's legacy, Miles even got the stamp of approval from the people who'd been closest to Peter. The Ultimate Universe's Aunt May even passed along Peter's web-shooters, which is about as good an endorsement as you could ask for when you're setting out to be a Spider-Man.

The fate of the Ultimate Universe

Okay, so Miles Morales is the Spider-Man of another universe? Well, no. That is, he was, but he's not anymore. See, while the Ultimate line remained popular throughout its first decade, a few massive missteps put enough of a dent in it that it was no longer in danger of becoming Marvel's primary universe by the time we got to the 2010s. And then came Secret Wars.

In 2015, the entire Marvel Multiverse — including both the Ultimate Earth and the original Marvel Universe — were destroyed in a series of cataclysmic "incursions" that saw realities crashing into each other on a cosmic scale. To save what they could, Doctor Doom and Doctor Strange teamed up and stitched together chunks of alternate realities into a new planet, Battleworld, with Doom installed as its all-powerful god. There were two real-world effects from all of this, and the first was that all of Marvel's ongoing titles were "canceled" and replaced with books that took place on this new patchwork planet for the next couple of months until everything went back to normal. The second was that while a few characters survived, the Ultimate universe was essentially over, leaving Miles Morales without a home — or even a planet — to go back to.

Instead, Miles and his supporting cast were folded into the main-line Marvel Universe as though they'd been there all along, with Miles and the main universe Peter both operating under the name "Spider-Man" at the same time, in the same dimension. There was a bit of a precedent for this — both Kate Bishop and Clint Barton use the superheroic codename "Hawkeye," for instance — and after a few get-to-know-you team-ups, Peter approved of Miles using his name.

Miles Morales already has a movie ... just not in the MCU

If all of this sounds very familiar, it should definitely be ringing a bell. Miles' origin story was adapted for the big screen in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, with most of the broad strokes from the Ultimate Universe intact. The only big difference is that his world's Spider-Man is an adult when he dies and a not a 16-year-old. (The movie version of Peter Parker also has way better hair.) But the other stuff — including the genetically modified spider, getting the approval and equipment from Aunt May, and even the fact that his favorite uncle turns out to be a supervillain — all comes from the source material.

And like his comic book counterpart, the movie Miles quickly gets into an adventure with the Spider-folks from other dimensions, all of whom were lifted from the comics. After all, since the OG Peter Parker has been one of Marvel's most popular characters since day one, there have been a lot of different versions over the years. And all these heroes wound up meeting each other in a big comic book crossover called, wait for it, Spider-Verse. This is where characters like Spider-Gwen, Peni Parker, and the robot SP//dr debuted, but the Spider-Verse comic is a bit different from the movie version. For some reason, the filmmakers didn't include the part about how they were all being hunted by a family of interdimensional steampunk vampires who ate spider energy.

Point being, if your question is "will Miles Morales be in a Marvel Movie," well, the answer is that he's already been in one — and a good one, too. Into the Spider-Verse captured the visual styling of comic books and told a Spider-Man story that's better than just about anything else that's been in theaters. For some moviegoers, though, an animated film just isn't the same as a live-action movie, no matter how much CGI trickery is involved in the latter. And it's also important to point out that Into the Spider-Verse doesn't have anything to do with Disney, Kevin Feige, or anyone from Marvel Studios.

MMCU: The Miles Morales Cinematic Universe

The most convincing argument in favor of eventually seeing Miles Morales show up in the MCU is that we already know he exists there. Well, we don't actually know for sure — Miles hasn't actually been on screen yet — but he's definitely been mentioned.

It happens in one of the funniest and most memorable scenes in Spider-Man: Homecoming (secretly the best MCU movie), when Peter interrogates a low-level criminal (played by Donald Glover) who was trying to buy weapons from the Vulture's arms dealing operation. At one point, after the conversation has gone back and forth between the proliferation of dangerous weapons based on strange alien technology to the amount of bread involved a various sandwich places in Queens, Glover's character mentions that he has a nephew who lives in the neighborhood and doesn't want to put him in danger. If you're paying close attention, then you might notice that Glover's character is named Aaron Davis — the same Aaron Davis who works as the Prowler in the Ultimate Universe and whose nephew is Miles Morales.

Does this mean that Miles is bound to show up in a future MCU Spider-Man film? Not in a definitive sense, no. In fact, you can make a direct comparison to another young hero's relative whose MCU presence hasn't really gone anywhere yet. Helen Cho showed up way back in 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron, and we haven't seen any cinematic signs of her son, Amadeus, the brilliant mastermind who sidekicked for the Hulk and Hercules before becoming the "Totally Awesome Hulk" himself. That said, the mention of Miles Morales in a Spider-Man film is deliberate, even if it's only a nod to comics fans in the audience. If nothing else, it's a seed that could grow into something much bigger if the filmmakers and studios want it to — and it's way more convincing than trying to tell us that little kid in Iron Man 2 was actually Peter Parker all along.

The future of the MCU

With the end of the MCU's third phase and the two dozen movies that made up the "Infinity Saga," the Marvel movies are in a pretty weird place. We know more are coming, but we don't quite know what to expect or even who to expect in the years to come. After all, one of the big advantages to comic books is that the same Peter Parker can be Spider-Man forever. (Batman's been the same guy, more or less, for over 80 years, and he doesn't look a day over 35.) Movie stars, on the other hand, aren't usually made of ink and paper, and they have an unfortunate tendency to age.

We've already seen the departure of Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans from the roles of Iron Man and Captain America, and eventually, more of our MCU favorites are going to follow. Obviously, they could just pull a James Bond and recast those parts with other actors — they've already done that with War Machine and the Hulk, although nobody remembers that there was an MCU Hulk movie that definitely set up a sequel — but so far, that's not how they seem to be going. Instead, they seem to be taking a page out of the comics playbook and replacing them with legacy characters, in which the heroic identity continues on but with a successor under the mask.

It's already started happening (a la Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson). The only question is when it'll become something that the Spider-Man films need to worry about and who will wind up under the mask when it does. Spidey, after all, is in the unique position of having a history that involves being replaced by his own clones, which is potentially some great news out there for Tim Netherlands, Tom Holland's evil twin that we just made up.

A web of legacies

In comics, particularly in Marvel comics, replacing a hero with a successor is usually a temporary situation. The standard operating procedure is to have someone take over while a character is dead or indisposed and then launch them into a different identity once the original makes their return. Jim Rhodes, for instance, took over being Iron Man for a while before Tony came back, and then Rhodey started operating as War Machine. Sam Wilson had been the Falcon for decades before he took over being Captain America — something that seems pretty likely for the MCU after Sam was given the shield at the end of Endgame — before going back to being the Falcon. After years of being a mostly absent supporting character, Jane Foster became Thor, and then in a rare case of going through two legacy identities in a row, she became the new Valkyrie after the Odinson took up the hammer again.

In theory, the movies could work the same way, with Don Cheadle as Rhodey becoming the new Iron Man for the next few years before Cole Sprouse or whoever gets the call to come back as a younger Tony Stark, but it could also be the start of a progression. Assuming the MCU remains a going concern and doesn't just get rebooted after the next phase, we'll eventually get to the point where Tom Holland either won't want to or will no longer be able to play Spider-Man. If they want to keep making MCU Spider-Man movies, then we'll need a new guy in the suit, and passing the role from Peter Parker to Miles Morales would make a lot of sense

This may not be an issue anytime soon, of course. Tom Holland is a spry guy in his early 20s who seems to enjoy the role, and if the previous Spider-Men are anything to go by, that gives him plenty of time. After all, Tobey Maguire was dancing down the sidewalk in Spider-Man 3 while in his early 30s. Even if we've go another decade to go, though, time's arrow is notoriously difficult to stop. Eventually, it'll catch up to us all, radioactive spider-bite or no.

Sony/Marvel: Civil War

As you might recall, the reason that it took so long to get Spider-Man into the MCU in the first place is that Spidey's film rights were held by Sony, a company that wasn't particularly eager to give up a proven moneymaker of a franchise. Sony and Marvel Studios eventually struck a deal, but it seems a little shaky. As recently as August 2019, only a few months after Spider-Man: Far From Home hit theaters, the two companies got into a spat over who would be making the next one, presumably because someone involved wanted to upgrade to a gold-plated yacht this season.

For now, the two companies have patched things up, but if things start to go sour again — let's say gold goes out of fashion, and you just have to get a platinum yacht to keep up with the neighbors — then the split could have a few interesting results. It's entirely hypothetical, but it's possible that the companies could just split Spider-Man right down the middle, with one company focusing on Peter, while the other takes Miles into his own series of films. If that happens, and Marvel trades the established, sure-thing Peter Parker character to Sony in exchange for complete control over the up-and-coming Miles Morales, then we'll definitely see him showing up.

That seems pretty unlikely, however. If anything, Peter Parker is already established in the MCU, while Into the Spider-Verse — which features Miles as its main character — is a Sony Pictures Animation production. If anything close to this split winds up happening, it seems likely that they'll keep that division rather than starting over from scratch, but even that feels like a stretch. It's far more likely that if there's ever a disagreement, it'll be resolved like it was in 2019 when everyone (presumably) realized that there were enough diamond doorknobs for everyone's platinum yacht.

Miles to go before showing up in the MCU

So will we ever see Miles Morales in an MCU movie? Well, what it really comes down to is whether or not Marvel (and Sony) think Miles Morales is worth making a movie about, and clearly, they already know that he is. Into the Spider-Verse was a huge financial success with a take of $375 million at the box office, and it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, along with a ton of other awards. There's a sequel on the way set for 2022, with Miles back in the lead role and a new handful of Spider-friends, apparently including the live-action Japanese Spider-Man from the '70s, whose giant robot, Leopardon, inspired the similar giant robots in the show we all know as Power Rangers.

In addition to Spider-Verse, Miles has been featured on multiple TV shows, in the critically beloved hit Spider-Man PS4 game from 2018, and he even got a young adult novel in an attempt to crack the bookstore market. And of course, he remains a fan-favorite character in the comics. It's hard to imagine that he won't sustain that popularity for at least a while. He's been Spider-Man long enough that, well, he's Spider-Man, and people love Spider-Man.

With that popularity, with name recognition that's only going to get bigger as time goes on, and with the seeds already there just in case they decide to break the glass and drop a second Spidey into the Marvel movies, it seems getting Miles Morales into the MCU is a pretty safe bet ... eventually.