I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest Miles Morales fan when it comes to Marvel Comics, as I much prefer Miguel O’Harra, Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. Something about him felt off, like he was nothing more than a kid lingering in Parker’s shadow, never truly stepping into the light as his own person.
However, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse made me love and appreciate Miles more than I could have ever imagined. Hell, I even have a Miles Morales wallet, now. Whilst many justifiably praise the visuals, writing, design, narrative and character arc that all elevate Miles into near-perfection, what stood out to me was that Miles finally has a sound.
When you think of the iconic suburban geek who lived with his Aunt May for most of his life, you can likely conjure up a voice, a musical flair and an identity. Whether it’s through Danny Elfman’s iconic score or the old 60s cartoon intro, there’s that sound that brings Peter Parker’s Spider-Man to life, making him tangible in a way that the comic-book’s cant.
He’s had a plethora of cartoons and movies that all solidify people’s perceptions of the wallcrawler. If you read a comic, you likely do so, even subconsciously, in a voice modelled on something you have already heard. For me, that varies. I read Ultimate Spider-Man in a voice not too dissimilar to Tom Holland’s whilst I read 616 like how Garfield portrayed the character.
Having that reference truly enhances Parker’s take. Gwen has that too, seeing as we’ve had various portrayals of her, even if she isn’t donning the spider-y spandex. Miles? Not so much, not until he became the main star of his own film.
Miles is mixed race. His mother is Hispanic and his father is African-American and the film truly embraces this through the soundtrack.
Not only is he made relatable from his attempts at singing along but he is given music that, when people hear, they will now associate with his character. This completely overhauls Miles in a way that cannot be understated. Through music, he has been made tangible, he has been given identity and he has been bestowed a means to embrace his culture.
Not only does Miles now have a literal voice but he has a metaphorical one through the music that enriches the overall experience. One thing that many people praise about Spider-Verse is its stellar soundtrack and it deserves every single ounce of that appreciation.
Music often represents culture, whether it be that of the working class, African-Americans, the suburban white family or otherwise, music can give a sound to those identities. That is something that Spider-Verse revels in as it makes Miles completely distinct from Peter, finally giving him a vehicle to step out of Parker’s shadow.
Part of that is narrative, writing, characterisation and his arc but a component that should not be understated is the soundtrack. Through it, Miles develops a significantly unique persona that is nothing at all like Peters. Perhaps that was what the comics lacked or perhaps it was down to the writing but what I do know is that Spider-Verse was the film that made me love Miles.