Backlash To Black-Latino Spiderman Indicates We’re Not A Post-Racial Society

August 3, 2011  |  
by Cynthia Wright
Yesterday, USA Today released a story that Marvel Comics Ultimate Spider-Man would take its web-slinging hero in a new direction. Although, Peter Parker has played the Spider-Man character since its creation decades ago – the revamping of the Marvel comic is to attract a new generation of comic book readers, in response to its static past. So, it wasn’t really that surprising that Marvel decided to kill the character off around two months ago.

Unlike the comics’ overwhelmingly Caucasian days of yore – when it came to passing on the infamous red and blue suit – Marvel decided to push the envelope. Instead of embodying the usual stereotype for superheroes, the decision was made to pass the torch to a half-black, half-Hispanic teenager named Miles Morales.

Brian Michael Bendis, the writer behind Parker’s death and Miles arrival told the newspaper that it was long overdue, even in the more ‘diverse’ Marvel universe.

“Even though there’s some amazing African-American and minority characters bouncing around in all the superhero universes, it’s still crazy lopsided,” Bendis admitted.

However, not everyone agrees with Bendis’ assessment, a quick glance through the comments of the USA Today article reveals that even if Marvel wants to be more contemporary that doesn’t give them the right to rewrite comic book history. Of course, it should be of no surprise that some white comic fans feel that iconic comic characters should be left unchallenged by today’s more political correct society – especially when it comes to a biracial teenager becoming the newest incarnation of one of their most beloved superheroes.

Over on the website Bleeding Cool, they decided to publish some of the more “enlightening” comments from the USA Today story in one of their Tuesday posts. The comments ranged from bashing the need to always be politically correct, to complaints over the comic books direction and the rage over the killing of the white Peter Parker so that Morales could replace him.

With several comic-based movies taking liberty when it comes to the race of their supportive characters (i.e. Nick Fury played by Samuel L. Jackson, Perry White being played by Laurence Fishburne), it is apparent that supporting roles are the only roles not susceptible to such a huge backlash. However, making the “minority” a main character is still seen as unacceptable.

As one commenter responded:

“Peter Parker could not be whiter. A black boy under the mask just don’t look right. This opens up a whole new story line with a whole new set of problems. Who is going to believe a black man in a mask is out for the good of man kind?”

So, a black man in a mask isn’t capable of helping out mankind? In a historical context, it wasn’t the black population using masks to strike fear and terrorize others in American society. How quickly that one caveat is forgotten.

Blatant ignorance aside, it is hard not to be offended by some of the reactions regarding Morales’ ethnicity. With the current demographics of New York being so diverse – it would make sense to have someone akin to Morales. It is about time that minority characters are given more precedence instead of being relinquished to the only role that seems deserving—the sidekick.

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  • Johnny Houston

    Peter Parker was white. End of story

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  • spiderfan

    Make a new super hero don’t kill off or mess with original spider man. make the new ones hispanic black asian persian, heck just don’t mess with the originals!

    • Terrence Cureton

      Are we forgetting like green lantern had a black guy pick up after him, this happens all the time. Race shouldn’t even matter, people just wanna complain over stupid stuff just to do it.

  • Samantha

    Spiderman stole my bike?

  • J3RICHO93

    Idea lets make Blade white/asian, Black Panther Irish and Storm Mexican since were changing all races of heroes

  • aaadd

    no nick fury was not always black :p he was also changed for more ethnic diversity aka more black males.

  • dddd

    how about an asian spider man? oh I forgot anti racism and diversity in the US is all about black males…

  • Michael

    It was racist when people criticized M. Night Shyamalan for choosing a “white” child to play Ang in the Last Airbender because the character is based on Asian culture and mythology. In the end Noah Ringer was convincing in the role. M sure that the fictional Morales will be great especially since he is not replacing Peter Parker, just picking up where PP left off.

    For the record it is racist when a person refers to the characters big black lips as the reason that you don’t want him to be spiderman.

  • Michael B

    No one was mad when Elizabeth Taylor played Cleopatra, Davide Carradine played Kwai Chang Chen, or when Laurence Olivier played Othello. Let a Latino pick up the reigns for Spiderman!

  • Michael B

    There is no reason for all of this sort of outrage. Peter Parker (if he were a real person) would be happy to know that someone has picked up where he left off. Heroes live within all of us. My only problem with this whole thing is that is no such thing as “Black Latinos” there are only “Latinos” who are a combination of peoples so named because of the Spanish is the predominant culture and usually the first language

  • Eric

    On that note, i like basketball and i'm white. I demand that Michael Jordan be replaced by a white guy and all his accomplishments transferred over because i feel under-represented.

    Oh marvel, wasn't Miguel latino enough? You really want to ruin spidey's legacy that badly?

  • correctness

    fool puerto rican have american passport

  • black king

    All of marval’s superheroes before were black. Like 1st Captain America is black. It was called Truth: Red, White & Black. He name is Isaiah Bradley.

  • Adam

    I agree with you 100% Tom

  • Nonya Beezwax

    Just typical…leave it to the media to make EVERYTHING a Racial Guilt Trip. Just because people like Parker better than the new guy, that makes it racist, right? It couldn't possibly be that people simply feel it was a cheap move made by the comic industry to pander to a more politically correct nation. Why'd he have to be Spiderman? He couldn't be his own hero? What about Black Panther, Falcon, Darwin, Warmachine, etc, etc…why not just make him his own hero?

  • M.A.

    Serious dialogue please!!!!

  • Tim

    …except they're not making Peter Parker black-latino – it's a new character.

  • Katy

    IT'S ABOUT TIME!!! I'd love to see a black character with a bunch of white sidekicks who are the first to die, instead of your standard white savior with a black sidekick or two who are always killed off first. this is awesome. anyone who doesn't like it is an anti-black racist who needs to shut the f-ck up!

  • Mia

    Personally I welcome the new Spiderman. I can understand people's discontent with their icon being killed off and just having someone new replace them but something new can be good, people should give him a chance first before they start bashing him…

  • Dan

    I know I'm sort of feeding the troll but Tom let's talk about this really quick.

    I'm going to describe the character of Peter Parker really quick. He's a young man, born and raised in Queens, New York, nerdy, full of doubts about the control of his powers, and juggling his friends, family and his role as crime-fighting super hero.

    Now let's look at Black Panther for instance. T'Challa is the next in line for the kingdom of the fictitious African nation of Wakanda who was given powers either by a meterorite or by SHIELD technology (depending on the universe). He's a proud man and connected with his people's cultural traditions and symbols and takes the mantle of Black Panther to keep his country (and the world) safe.

    The context is completely different between the two characters. If Black Panther was made white it would clash with his entire backstory and set-up, which is focused around his close ties to his native African country. It would be difficult to see a white African tribal native.

    Peter Parker (and Miles Morales) have nothing in their background except for the color choice made in the early whites-only comic book era. What in the "personal history" Spider-Man stops the character from being relegated to only a certain specific character with a specific race? Peter Parker's just the everyman nerd who gains powers beyond his wildest dreams and has to figure out how to live with the consequences. That's a universal thing.

    I'm happy to see this change. I'll get Peter in my other Spider-Man subscriptions and see a new take on the hero in Ultimate. It'll be good to see some fresh blood and hopefully some new stories after having the origin/introduction of villains whose stories we already know/same old same old Parker situations.

  • Red Panther

    I think that by putting a different race for spider-man will mess up his legacy. Spidey has been out since 63, and by making a new beginning with a new race will scramble comic mag fans imagination of the greatest hero of 63.

  • Francisco Cruz

    Lest not for get that in one of the Justice league the character of Green Lantern is a black man who was a police man before he was chosen to be a Green Lantern, the Static Shock character is black, the Black Panther is character is black. They are all CD universe characters and there hasn't been a problem with them. In the X-men series, Storm is african and also one of the wisest of the characters… Long story short, I don't see what the problem with a black/latino Spideman.

  • Daniel

    oh by the way is a just a parallel story, a brand new thing in comics universe, huh? Not like Xavier didn't die or could walk again any day, neither Batgirl exists! Batgirl don't exist. Now she does! There she doesn't.
    Oh c'mon, too much whining because the race of a spin-off character?

  • Erik

    Like I said… If "Non-Whites" want a character to represent them so badly, why not just create their own super-hero? Why toy with someone elses idea? If this were the reverse scenario, there would be riots. If we took a black Hero and made him white, this would have blown up so much more.

    Spider-man does not "represent" the white community, he was a super-hero created to represent proper morals and justice. Why they need to change what he looks like makes no sense to me. In fact, I think it is rather racist to do this. Again, if there is such a need for a hero to appeal or represent the "minorities" then come up with a new hero for that purpose.

    Spider-man and most other comics have/had nothing to do with racism or racial subjects of any sort. To change his race for the SOLE purpose of appealing to non-whites, brings the subject of racism into the Spider-man universe. I have no problem with spider-man passing his mantle to someone of a different race, but the fact that it was done JUST to "get back at whites" is what angers me. It is reverse rascism. No, it IS rascism.

  • No More White Guilt

    You're a typical anti-white racist.

  • lana

    It took Bush 8 yrs to destroy the economy. What makes you think it can be fixed in half the time. Should he also shorten winter and stretch out summer..

  • miles lucas

    Amazing! Sorry I think this was the ultimate idea. Spiderman is a icon for all,personal and money problems but still overcoming is what spidey is about.many no matter the color,creed,religion love spiderman because they can relate. Now fans have even more reasons to relate to this truly ultimate spiderman.

  • Dora

    If anything, I think the backlash proves it's far PAST time we had a hero like this… and I say this as a young white female who grew up with Spider-Man. The problem I have is that right now, he isn't MY Spider-Man… my Spider-Man, and the reason I kept reading the Ultimate comics, was Peter Parker, who was a character I really liked. I might like Miles too, but I don't know him, and frankly right now I'm just disappointed that a character I had become attached to and cared about had to die for this to happen. I wish Peter Parker had lost his powers or something, whatever, and gotten his happily ever after, passing the mantle over to Miles. As it stands, however, I'm open to the idea of Spider-Man being someone else… it's not like they reinvented Peter Parker, the kid behind the mask, but they've made a statement that anyone can be a hero and are challenging us to change our views. Again, he's not MY Spider-Man… but that's just because my Spider-Man was Peter Parker and always will be, it's nothing against Miles as a character at all.

    Hopefully this will give the writers a chance to explore a little bit of society's apparently struggle to grasp a hero of a different ethnicity, but at the same time, I hope they move past it, too. If the comic turned into a racial struggle and every single issue revolved around skin tone and acceptance, that would be disappointing. It's time we moved past "black hero" and just looked at him as "a hero". I look forward to the day we look at each other as human beings and stop applying qualifiers like religion, sexuality, and race in front of every person.

  • Erik

    Why do they need to re-invent a well known icon to make a politically correct statement? Why not just make a new Hero and let people choose?

  • …..are you serious?

  • frankcastle

    what i find funny is the fact that he's half latin half black but everyone is calling him black

  • twitch

    This is the dumbest thing Ive ever heard of. I excited to hear that Ultimate Spiderman was going to continue. I bought EVERY single issue of ultimate spiderman, and started getting he reboot. then the death comes and I was okay to leave it at that. But then you do this…You bring back a character who was presumed dead, to reboot him, to die eventually?
    Its nothing to do with race. Im okay with a half black spiderman sorta. hell im okay with it being any race to a point. But what that point is is the fact that its not its own distinct storyline, and its in the ultimate universe is what bothers me. Sure, there was ben reilly, but this ISNT ben reilly. There was that Indian Spiderman, that had its on storyline. Point : Dont mess with the fans hero lore. Thats something that needs to be a golden rule. you can alter the story, but not the man traveling it. Or at least not too much. Surely Im not the only one thinking this.
    My only thing that could save me and get me to continue reading the ultimate series is find someway to turn this into a clone saga, make miles not the only "new" spiderman, and have Peter return. Please make this a weird dimension thing, bring in madam web.
    I have loved spiderman since I was a kid. and sure Im not as old as most of the fans, but here I am in my 20s still loving the series and this just may have turned me away. Ultimate has been my favorite for a long time, and I was able to relate to it in a lot of way. and when I was a kid it gave me something to look at and connect to. My connection was been broken. If you want others to have a connection, then start a new series and a new dimension, dont mess with one that is already established.

  • rub duck

    miles morales goes hard in da paint! HATE IT OR LOVE IT

  • Ant

    I'm black… and I'M PISSED!!!! i don't care if you have a white, hispanic, asian, or black hero. Just don't replace an icon, of whatever race. If you want diversity here's an idea. Make a new hero. Or give someone a new minority sidekick or something caquse it's just retarded.

    • Daniel

      it's a parallel storyline. Parallel.

      While this, at the Justice Hall… Green Lantern's not black anymore! He's a sweet-weetie white boy Ryan Reynolds. Cool, huh?

  • Prentice Who?

    Ok isn’t this what the Ultimate Universe is supposed to respresent? Possibilities otherwise branded as impossible? My favorite thing about the Ultimate universe has always been that anything that can happen WILL happen! As a black and Latino who grew up idolizing the IDEA of spiderman and the things he stands for I am honored and greatly anticipating how this new spiderman, in spite of his “background” lives up to the principles emebedded by his predecessor. Bravo Marvel… Its just the ultimate universe people, but A FRESH MODERN take on a classic will always be greeted with scorn as well as praise. Anybody remember MIGUEL O’Hara? He was one my favorites too…

    • deeznuts

      Thank you Prentice. Couldn't have said it better myself

  • I feel sorry for white folks. They have lived in their segregated world so long, they are having a hard time coming to grips that the world is changing and there is nothing they can do about it. Whites are becoming the minority all over the world and that's just the way it is. Being a minority is not political correctness.

  • guest

    It's not a black thing, It's a dumb idea thing………

  • Jackson

    Lets make every super hero a minority!

  • felix

    awesome more white guilt

    • Heidi

      No, Cynthia, it's because that's not Peter Parker. Peter Parker is the every-man. He goes through things most of us have gone through sometime in our lives, like being picked on, not getting the girl, or later getting the girl and then the relationship fails.

      Race has nothing to do with why most people will not care for this "new" Spidey. It's like killing Superman (or any other popular / obscure super hero) and suddenly replacing him with a Chinese guy that has a disability ( or any other minority).

      • Matt

        this is Ultimate spider man. The side-story continuity. It's totally fine, and I think it's really great. Regular ol' spider-man is still a late-30s autistic white guy who sold part of his soul to the devil to get out of a relationship, don't worry.