Marvel Has a Solution to Spider-Man’s Age Problem That It Will Never Use

Marvel has made it abundantly clear that Spider-Man is destined to remain a single man in his 20s forever, but judicious use of Miles Morales would solve this problem easily. Peter Parker is the everyman of the Marvel Universe, and has been positioned as such by Marvel ever since his first appearance in 1963 with the release of Amazing Fantasy #15. Unfortunately, the company will never actually implement the obvious solution – use Miles Morales as the main hero – because of one awful reason.

Peter frequently finds himself on the precipice of growing up and maturing into a better person, but status quo (or more accurately, editorial mandates) force Spider-Man to take one step back for every two steps forward. Gwen Stacy was memorably killed in Amazing Spider-Man #121 to prevent a happy relationship eventually progressing toward a marriage – and when Peter eventually married Mary Jane anyway in 1986, the marriage was ripped away and erased by Mephisto in the infamous One More Day storyline. Fans want Peter Parker to have a family and began the next chapter of his life, but Marvel wants Spider-Man to stay young…but they do not necessarily want Peter Parker to stay young, and therein lies the solution.

Introduced in the Ultimate universe of Marvel Comics in 2011, Miles Morales became an all-new Spider-Man and an immediate fan-favorite character due to his optimistic personality and different-but-similar powers to Peter Parker. Miles was still in high school – and remains that way ten years after his debut. The popularity of Miles has resulted in his own ongoing comic series, his own videogame, and a successful animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse with a two-part followup debuting in 2023. Marvel could easily allow Peter to marry and have a family while allowing Miles to be the “everyman” Spider-Man necessary for the young readers they know Spider-Man draws in. Peter could even continue to be Spider-Man and explore the ramifications of being a superhero while also raising a family and holding down a steady job.

Unfortunately, Marvel is highly unlikely to take these steps to satisfying both the fans and their own goals for the character. Firstly, Peter Parker has been held back for so long that at this point, non-comic book readers expect him to perpetually be a high school or college student. Secondly (and perhaps more cynically), Peter is white while Miles is black, and the Marvel executives are perhaps under the impression that a white hero will entice more readers to buy their books. This line of reasoning is, of course, absurd; if the entire conceit of the hero is that he can be anyone under the mask, then Marvel should truly allow him to be anyone.

But Marvel’s track record suggests they are content to keep Peter Parker as the main Spider-Man while keeping Miles as a “secondary” Spider-Man – even though the former ought to be raising a family by now and the latter is more than capable of being New York’s main hero. Both characters are long overdue for their respective promotions, and change is a natural part of comics and life (DC’s Superman, for example, went decades without telling Lois Lane his secret – and now Superman and Lois have been happily married since the 90s and even have a child of their own). If Marvel simply replaced Peter with Miles, they could solve their biggest Spider-Man problem overnight – but they’re far too afraid to stray from convention to even seriously consider the idea.

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