April 29, 2015 | by Ellie Hillis
She Can Fly: Why I’m Ready to Say Goodbye to Peter Parker

Dear Spider-Man,

No, wait:

Dear Peter Parker,

We’ve been friends for a while.

Sometimes our relationship is like hanging out with a good friend from high school. Someone I fell out of touch with, but, in reconnecting, I discover that, while we’ve both grown and changed, we still have a lot in common.

When I came back into comics in 2008, after a long absence, you were one of the first titles I picked up. I stuck with you until you were replaced by Doc Ock; at that point, I had to drop the title. I appreciated the story direction, but I just wasn’t interested in a megalomaniac Peter Parker with a penchant for being a jerk. I was always partial to Peter Parker because, despite the bad in his life, the struggle and sadness and turmoil, he still did the right thing, still stayed optimistic and fun and silly.

Peter Parker’s positive attitude got me through my own tough times.

My initial introduction to you was a mix of stealing my older brother’s comics and watching the 90’s Spider-Man cartoon. In everything I consumed, there was a sense of joy about being a hero and doing the right thing, even when it was hard.

You made me want to be a superhero.

Sometimes, our relationship borders on an intense love affair.

I first fell in love with you when I saw Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. I know, it’s a little before my time. What can I say? I was nostalgic from a young age. Anyway, as soon as I saw Spidey and his Amazing Friends, I tried to dye my Barbie’s hair red and pretend she was Firestar to an imaginary Peter Parker (needless to say, the dying process did not end well, and you can never really get nail polish out of doll hair once it’s been applied).

I fell in love with you again when Spider-Man came out; when Toby Maguire played you. He was the first celebrity I ever had a crush on, primarily because he was Peter Parker to me. He was vulnerable and fragile, but held within him this massive strength.

It wasn’t the spider powers that made you strong, it was your heart.

But, Pete, let’s be honest, the plight of the white nerd…that’s not really a thing anymore. Heck, you know that yourself: you’re the CEO of a successful technology company and that’s doing good in the world. Geek is chic. You’re actually (gasp) kind of a “cool” guy now. Yeah, you’re still a huge dork who loves puns a little too much, but that doesn’t put you at odds with anyone but villains who really hate bad jokes. Your high school bully is now on a superhero team (because of you); you may not have successful romantic relationships, but you’ve dated a bevvy of smart, strong, and beautiful women who all still love you (except Felicia, but hate isn’t really all that different from love); you’re best friends with the Fantastic Four, an amazingly rich and famous superhero family; heck, you’re an Avenger AND you’re the guy they all look up to.

So maybe you aren’t the right person to represent the disenfranchised. When you first came into existence, people who loved science and reading were typified as the “minority.” Though it may not have been as heavy handed as the X-Men as an analogy for racism, Spider-Man represented the every man. He wasn’t a superhero trying to be a real person (like Superman), he was a real person trying to be a superhero. He was the lower class, so capable, but the man was keeping him down.

But now you have money. You’re successful. Sure, you’re still a nerd, but you certainly aren’t disenfranchised or in a position without privilege.

So, Spidey, Pete, buddy; it’s time to step down. I still want you to hang out in comics and cartoons, but the Marvel movies? We all know that want to make you a teen (again). Let’s not go down the Andrew Garfield path of fake-ADHD, jerky Peter Parker.

Instead, let’s do something new:

Let Miles Morales take the lead.

Let’s see Spider-Man once again represent some who is facing oppression. Someone who is relevant to the images we see on the news of people fighting against the system, the man, racism. Someone who doesn’t have instant privilege.

Miles is going to be an Avenger soon, anyway. Why not give him a hand and a starring role. Maybe he can be the first superhero of color to get a new MCU solo movie (shout out to Blade, who was the first Marvel hero of color to get a solo movie). That would be pretty cool.

You can hang out on my water bottle on my desk every day at work, but it’s Miles Morales I want to see in my Marvel movies.

I hope you understand, Peter. I love you, but you just aren’t the guy who needs to be on the silver screen right now. Miles is.

Love,
Ellie

Ellie Hillis is a mild mannered blogger and reporter. When not writing academic essays on comics and pop culture, she is probably watching comedies, listening to nerd-core, writing and drawing comics, or sewing her next big cosplay project. She absolutely does not have a secret identity as a superhero. Nuhuh. No way.

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