With the ongoing successful accolades and success of the newest Spiderman film and the praises it has received since its premiere back in December; including a Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Motion Picture. The idea of dissecting the film and its characters that created such a wonderful adventure with breathtaking experiences is to be expected, which is why I’ve decided to do a little analysis of the film’s characters. For this article, I will be going over the relationships seen within the movie. These include the relationships between Miles Morales and Peter Parker (The Acknowledging Spidermen), Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy (Building of Friendship), The Alternate Spider-people (A Shared Identity) and various others that some have questioned but have yet to come to a correct conclusion in terms of their relationship for the film.
The system of analysis that I will be overseeing for this article will be based on three structures of relationships: Movie Structure, Comic Structure, and Narrative/Representation Structure. Through the use of these three, a clear and cohesive analysis can be made for the characters that reference both their movie and comic counterparts; alongside their impact in and out of the film.
——————————————SPOILERS AHEAD! SPOILERS AHEAD!————————————-
- Miles Morales and Peter B. Parker (Acknowledging Spidermen)
It should go without saying, or not, that the main relationship within the entire narrative of the story is cast around the building and budding relationship of Miles Morales and Peter B. Parker. What starts as a unique meeting for the two in regards to their shocking introduction, quite literally for Peter, begins the foundation for a teacher-student role that was quite different from its comic book origins for the two. In this adaptation of the story, both Spidermen are considered students to one another and proceed to learn new things throughout the film after their rocky start, which leads into the development of different roles of mentoring and being a mentee.Movie Structure: The dynamic pairing of Miles and Peter makes sense towards the narrative of “Teacher and Student”; alongside the entire premise of the movie as Miles learns how to become Spiderman. With Peter in his 30’s, tired and clearly tired from his superhero antics over the years, it sets up a quintessential choice and image for the budding student: “Do you really want to be Spiderman?” This question builds the foundation to which both Peter and Miles experience; both as a newbie and as an expert to the mantle. Mile’s enthusiasm to the cause of being a superhero, by neglecting his means of success in the real world, is similar to that of Peter’s resolution near the end of the movie with his plan of staying behind and sacrificing himself. After Gwen asks him, “Peter, you don’t have to stay. I’ll do it” and with his response of “It’s okay… I’ve made up my mind” could be paralleled to the same thought that entered Mile’s head the moment Peter’s words of taking ‘a leap of faith’ had questioned his own integrity as Spiderman; as both of their lives would change – for better or worse.
Comic Structure: Transitioning Peter and Miles from the comic pages for the movie must have been a critical headache for the filmmakers to make sense of in the writers room with Miles debut on the big screen (Invoking the idea of a black Spiderman; much less a bi-racial one) and with a bigger audience, including those of the comic community, waiting to see how it would pan out in animation. Mile’s relationship with Peter in the comics are, for the most part, grounded after his death. With crossover events from the main continuity universe and Mile’s universe (Known as the Ultimate-verse), creating the symbolism of Spiderman teaching another Spiderman, while still being a young superhuman, creates a dynamic that relates from one age gap to the next. So when the transition of characters are older, such as Peter B. Parker within this story, the familiarity of “being the same” is taken differently from the Peter of the comics; in comparison to his and another universes’ Spiderman.
Narrative/Representation Structure: In the end, Miles and Peter’s representation within the movie is nurtured towards the success that’s gained in life through accomplishments. The sides of this similar coin are displayed through Miles’ recklessness in trying to become something that he wasn’t intended to be, however, it was a challenge as to whether he would succeed in his endeavors to uphold this one truth: Can I be Spiderman? This same question resonates with Peter in his endeavors after having the mantle and when he questions towards the end with “How do I know I’m not going to mess it up?”; which is immediately acknowledged by Miles and is further acknowledged by the acknowledgment of Peter before returning to his own universe; accomplishing his task of a renewed vigor in Spiderman and for Spiderman.
- Peter B. Parker and Gwen Stacy (Spider-Gwen) ~ (Decisions, Decisions)
The second relationship for this article is one that a lot of fans, including myself, were really interested to see in animated detail. Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy are no stranger to one another, both in the comics and in the movies, but for the two to have the mantle of Spiderman (Spiderwoman in Gwen’s case) and to essentially have the same role that comes with being the heroine of their story, it’s to be expected that the chemistry of these two would be uniquely portrayed within this adaptation of the Spider-verse.
Movie Structure: Despite the age differences between the two heroes, Gwen and Peter’s relationship as heroines for their universes shows them on equal footing as heroes. The banter they share is tied with respect and this respect comes from their unannounced past to the origins of their original tales from the comics. It’s through the dynamic of an older Peter (which seemingly appears to be similar to the Peter Parker of her reality – more or less aging from the serum that transformed them into the Lizardman) that a sense of dependability and renewed faith in her acknowledgement of Peter Parker, in taking the mantle of Spiderman and helping others in much the same way she has been doing in her dimension, which creates the dynamic duo for this film. The theme behind these two is built on second chances and the established trust in changed fates.
While the chemistry between the two was unannounced on screen, a mutual respect and blossoming relationship as superheroes was being established through covert acknowledgments between the heroes. Peter B. Parker’s notices of Gwen are few and far between due to his past with Gwen Stacy and since this particular version of Parker uses humor as a means of deflecting conflict (amidst physical and emotional confrontations), making his only interactions with the young heroine to be straightforward outside of their introduction. He quips at Mile’s surprise at Gwen’s reveal but showcases a silent and positive approval at the two of them getting along; showcasing a sense of detachment to the loss of love and to the welcoming of new love for Miles and Gwen. He furthers this approval as the movie reaches its climactic finish with Peter’s choice to stay behind and essentially die in Miles’s dimension; all the while Gwen acknowledges Peter’s decision, never rallying with Miles against Peter and furthermore acknowledges his decision to do what’s right; even at the cost of his life and the unfulfilled conflicts that resonate for both himself and Gwen personally.
On Gwen’s side of this unique relationship, it’s to be assumed that the Peter Parker of her world appeared similar to one another; aligning to the idea that Gwen’s take to the older peter, mocking the appearance of a serumed Peter from her world, is a reminder of her failure and is a consistent reminder in trying to prevent her greatest failure from ever occurring again. She, in furthering her respect and trust in Peter, also acts as his light in regards to various situations that he, on his own, wouldn’t have faced; mimicking a significant other in addition to Peter’s divorce from Mary Jane, losing his way as a superhero and the death of his Aunt May – something to which she would’ve known in seeing Mile’s Spiderman’s (Before taking the mantle) death in this dimension. In leading him to Aunt May (Supporting him emotionally), rallying him to be a leader (Reminding him of the great responsibility and power that he has; indifference to what Miles doesn’t have yet) and preventing him from being caught up in the past with MJ and his future (His denial coming to bare with his feelings, internally conflicting him, alongside his mind’s decision to “be a hero”). Her self-sacrifice when Peter says “It’s okay….I’ve made up my mind” after suggesting that she could stay behind creates depth for their relationship, allowing both heroes to acknowledge their mistakes as a past and present dynamic that keeps them strong and keeps them as Spiderman/Spiderwoman.
Comic Structure: The basis of trust between the two Spider-people are established through the origins of their comics. When introduced to one another, the two found that their relationship, as comrades, was based upon their faults in their alternates deaths. They share a mutual and founded respect for one another, knowing one another in some tangents, which creates the dynamic duo through their chronicles of both “Spider-Verse” and “Spider-Geddon”
Narrative/Representation Structure: Peter and Gwen’s relationship for this movie is arguably needed as a base for the light and darkness within both characters. The two of them play off of one another but with founded respect, newly found by the discovery that they are in fact Spider heroes, which creates the unique connection that makes them the main leads for the film. Peter showcases the gruff and gritty perspective in growing up, while being a hero to others for over 30 years and Gwen showcases the beginning aspects of taking up the mantle to be a superhero; something to which is necessary for Miles to learn in his ongoing quest to do what’s right for Spiderman; both the name and the person.
- Peni Parker, Spiderman Noir (Peter Parker) and Peter Porker (Spiderham) ~ (United We Stand)Now, who could forget the colorful cast of characters in addition to the big three Spider-figures of this film? The highly animated styles of Peni Parker, Spiderman Noir, and Spiderham were probably one of the most festive looking characters throughout the film as they borrowed respective coloring and highlighting from their comic universes.
Movie Structure: In addition to being supportive characters and heroes on the screen, the trio of Spider-people represent something that is essentially linked with the film’s animation – their own. In their first appearance on screen, re-telling their backstories, as humorously as it is to the audience, the animation of their backstories are highlighted in the shading that theirs premised behind, with Noir’s being that of a black and white setting, Peni’s contrast of colors with shading imitating the style that you’ll see in eastern animated cartoons and with Porker’s being the classic representation of early animation that’s similar to that of Looney Tunes. When stripped from their original dimensions, unlike that of Peter and Gwen, their style is consistent with their animation and this representation speaks volumes in regards to their origins; in addition to their representation within the film. From Peni’s ever shaking eyes, or expressive changes, to Porker’s cartoon antics with his punches and hammer/anvil tactics, resonates to the adaptation of different animations styles in today’s society.
Comic Structure: Linking back to the previous statement, representation in animation was the main focus for these heroes on screen, however, their interpretation in comics was just as pivotal to their on-screen appearances. Characters like Peni Parker might, at least for movie-goers, seem like the first Asian Spider-Woman, however, her appearance in comics is seemingly different from that of her big screen appearance; going for more of a “Kawaii” (Cute) appearance than that of her older and more reserved look; this is seemingly the case for her mech, Sp//dr in terms of its interpretation from the comics to the movies.
Noir’s interpretation from page to screen was respectively transitioned with his initial look, with the famous detective raincoat and hat, included in his outfit. On the other hand, Porker’s transition was more than likely the most appropriate from his origins in various media. While in the comics he is a spider, bitten by a radioactive Aunt May pig (Yep, you read that correctly), his appearance within the comics presented him in the most cartoon-ish fashion of a pig that seemingly had the powers of a spider; including the idea of giving him incredibly long ears, a large extended snout and a body that was lengthy in some degrees to a spider’s form. This transition into a more Porky Pig, or Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon adaptation, gives the character another realistic touch to their pig appearance rather than the artistic take of how pigs looked in one dimension; which in itself is another question.
Narrative/Representation Structure: The narrative for these three was established pretty early as other Spider-People, establishing roles within their own universes, but the general dissection of their appearance in relevance to the plot, and its representation, is a fundamentally sound lesson. Whether you are young, older or just a little bit different, you’re capable of showcasing so much more of yourself. Peni’s intelligence and the will her father gave to her with manning the Sp//dr is her own responsibility, as is the same that goes for Noir Peter Parker and Peter Porker in regards to their Uncle Ben/Benjamin. With great power, comes great responsibility, no matter where you’re from – something to which these three illustrate with pride.
This concludes the first part of this ongoing article. If you enjoyed this, comment, like and support me by following me at my Facebook at J.Arthur’s Roundabout for updates, new stories and so much more!