This weekend it was announced that Miles Morales would be taking over as “the” Spider-Man in comics when the new Marvel Universe gels after Marvel‘s Secret Wars event wraps up. Part of the reason cited for the change was the lobbying by fans to get Morales to be the big screen Spider-Man in the Marvel/Sony movie reboot.
Some sites have attempted to generate controversy by mining the leaked Sony documents currently hosted by Wikileaks. There are various documents that have Peter Parker remaining Caucasian, straight, and having gotten his powers in high school or college. You know, like he is in the comics. In other words, Sony couldn’t go and change the character without Marvel’s permission. Also mentioned was he was male, doesn’t torture, doesn’t kill unless in self-defense or defending others, doesn’t smoke, does not swear beyond PG-13, doesn’t sell illegal drugs, doesn’t abuse alcohol, and doesn’t have sex before the age of 16 or with anyone younger than 16.
That’s not too controversial in my mind. Is the rest of the list a problem too? I surely hope not. But some websites like clickbait and don’t present all the pertinent information in their articles, especially during their attempts drum up controversy. I’m not going to link to the original article that started it all, but it’s a site that does this a lot, and unfortunately other sites regurgitated what the original site wrote unchallenged.
I decided to see what I could turn up about Sony’s interest in Miles Morales. The character made his debut in 2011, and in late 2011 there’s a memo written by Jim Underwood currently the Global Head of Entertainment Strategy for Facebook, but from 2010 to 2012 he was the Executive Vice President, Corporate Development, that specifically mentions the character as part of the discussion between Marvel and Sony about characters.
The initial document from August 2011 lays out the discussion between Sony and Marvel over some of Marvel’s characters, and who could do what with each, and what could be done with them. It goes over various an impressive roster of characters even the most die-hard fans might not know about. It also give insight into some of what Sony was looking at for their movies like Venom, The Jury, and Kraven.
In the document entitled “Spider-Man Disputed Characters List” the first bullet point discusses Miles Morales, even adding the characters to something called the “‘Alternative Spider-Man’ schedule.” It is specifically mentioned that Morales isn’t “Caucasian” getting around Marvel’s requirement for Spider-Man as far as that characteristic. This indicates that as far back as 2011 Sony was thinking about diversity in its Spider-Man films. That’s completely opposite of what many sites would lead you to believe. Also of interest is the mention of rumors that Morales was to be gay and Sony would like the right to portray him as so.
There’s also the mention of lots of other IP include various diverse Spider-Man characters. There’s Miguel O’Hara, Spider-Man 2099, and Paviitr Prabhakar who is the Spider-Man of India. Yes, diversity was on people’s minds. Also was Spider-Man as a member of the Fantastic Four, that was to be discussed as well.
While there were some articles that said Sony wasn’t interested in a movie with Morales or O’Hara, the documents say otherwise. They were on their mind to use at some point.
There’s also a list of characters/organizations that were no-go, some of which dealt with Daredevil. One of the non-exclusive characters was Jessica Drew, also known as Spider-Woman, a character that has been rumored to show up as a member of S.H.I.E.L.D. Marvel wouldn’t be able to call her Spider-Woman.
Some of the characters and locations discussed as having to do with Daredevil include The Arranger, Brainwasher, Flint, the Kingpin, Vanessa Fisk, Julius, Fisk Tower, Gloom Room A-Go-Go. Kingpin looks to be shared between the companies with Marvel’s use being specific to Daredevil and other characters Fisk interacted with previously.
Interesting characters, groups, and locations that are mentioned as reserved by Marvel include Bullseye, Cloak and Dagger, Elektra, Jigsaw, The Owl, Moses Magnum, The Punisher, Werewolf by Night, Speedball, A.I.M., Hydra, High Evolutionary, Roxxon, and a whole lot more.
The final document was from September 2011, and who knows when/if it was signed. It’s unknown how these documents were adopted, but it’s interesting that Sony was very interested in Miles Morales, especially for those things that make him a character for the new generation.