Why are some Spider-Man fans saying 'Miles Morales is Miles Morales'? Video game resurfaces 2021 debate

There seems to be no shortage of drama or debate within the Spider-Man fandom.

Only a few weeks after fans were baffled to see that Insomniac Games had accidentally mixed up the Puerto Rican and Cuban flags in the highly anticipated, record-breaking Spider-Man 2 video game, now the community is debating who the real Spider-Man is.

The game’s storyline features Miles Morales and Peter Parker coexisting and collaborating as separate versions of Spider-Man, which is canon to the original comic book plot. There is no leader of the two and no “passing of the torch,” so to speak, when, in the game, Parker decides to take a break. (In the original comic book, Parker dies.)

In the aftermath of the game’s conclusion, some members of the Marvel communities have resurfaced a statement first popularized in 2021 by YouTuber Nerdrotic: “Peter Parker is Spider-Man; Miles Morales is Miles Morales.”

Nerdrotic, whose real name is Gary Buechler, first posted the phrase on X, formerly known as Twitter. In a follow-up livestream, Buechler elaborated, saying when the general public thinks about the real identity of Spider-Man, they think of Peter Parker, not Miles Morales.

However, some users thought there was a racist element to what Buechler was saying, especially since Morales is a Black Puerto Rican character. Supporters argued that Morales is “tokenized” by being used as a replacement for an originally white comic book character instead of having his own superhero identity.

Now the debate has started again after the Spider-Man 2 game release.

When reached for comment, Buechler told In The Know by Yahoo, “It would be difficult for me to expand on statements of fact. Peter Parker is Spider-Man and Miles Morales is Miles Morales. Whatever is projected onto my tweets after that is entirely up to the internet.”

YouTuber Melonie Mac is one of the people bringing the phrase back in response to the Spider-Man 2 game. In a reaction video from Nov. 6, Mac claimed that Marvel has been trying to “shoehorn Miles Morales into Peter Parker’s Spider-Man space.”

“In the nerd culture space especially, we are constantly seeing legacy characters who many of us grew up with and love either completely rebooted and transformed beyond recognition or sidelined in their own franchises,” Mac told In The Know by Yahoo. “In this case with Miles Morales, I personally have found the character to be fun and likable, but he very much is different and therefore should have his own identity.”

“Peter Parker is such an iconic character; he is Spider-Man,” she continued. “Miles Morales is great, but Miles Morales is Miles Morales.”

Other fans seemed to interpret the statement to be dismissive of the character, who was introduced into the Marvel universe in 2011. (For reference, Peter Parker was introduced in 1962.) Some still thought it was a racially motivated take, which fans pointed out was in opposition to what creator Stan Lee even intended with the character design.

“Any kid can imagine he’s Spider-Man,” Lee told Larry King in a 2015 interview. “He could belong to any race.”

One of those fans is Andres Bornacelli, who runs a Spider-Man Instagram account with almost 60,000 followers and has been a cosplayer for almost a decade.

“It’s a very immature and close-minded way of looking at the Spider-Man mythos,” Bornacelli told In The Know by Yahoo. “Peter Parker is absolutely my favorite iteration of the character, and I would be sad to see him be replaced, however this is NOT what is happening with Miles Morales.”

Jeremy Cascamisi, who has 26,000 followers on his Spider-Man fan account, told In The Know by Yahoo that what Morales has done and represented by being a Black Puerto Rican superhero could not have been achieved by Parker.

“[Morales is] offering diversity and representation within comics, video games, films and more,” Cascamisi argued. “[People] are upset at the very function Miles has served since his creation. He was never a sidekick; he was Spider-Man.”

“It’s so clear that the intent is for these characters to support each other that Marvel has just announced the launch of a new comic book series starring both of them,” Bornacelli pointed out, referring to the new Spectacular Spider-Men series. “It is abundantly clear that [Morales] has earned his place as Spider-Man to younger generations of fans.”

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