Choosing a Side with Miles Morales

Some of the big decisions in a young teenager’s life often include figuring out what to wear, going with Team Android or Apple, and determining the right crowd to hand out with in public. Despite his superpowers, Miles Morales seems to live a pretty standard life—Does he put on the costume now or later and which side fits his personality best: Team Cap or Team Iron Man?

Of course, many readers who experienced the joys of adolescence realize the option for black and white decisions rarely occurs; instead, we face a world of gray. And as Marvel’s Civil War II event story gets underway, head writer Brian Michael Bendis looks to underscore this hard-learned lesson with Miles Morales, a.k.a. Spider-Man! Sometimes, other options need to be considered and that can include striking out on one’s own…

We sat down to talk about the decisions facing Miles as battle lines are drawn and heroes begin to align themselves with Captain Marvel, whose side favors pro-active action, and Iron Man, who wants to protect the population from being held accountable for pre-crimes. With all of the influences in his life that might sway him one way or the other, we try to get some answers as to where Spider-Man falls as the second super hero civil war gets underway! When we last spoke, you mentioned that Civil War II sees Miles filling as equally a significant role as Peter Parker played during Civil War in 2006. But I couldn’t get you to spill the beans as to what the role could be. Now that CIVIL WAR II #2 is out, any hints or clue as to what we can expect from our teen-aged Spider-Man?

Brian Michael Bendis: Well, if you look at some of the previews of what’s to come, you’ll begin to notice that we’re really putting the spotlight on the younger generation of heroes: Kamala Khan, Sam Alexander, and of course, Miles Morales.

You see, one of the major threads running through Civil War II is this growing divide between the younger generation of heroes and the older ones. It’s different because they don’t have the day jobs or businesses to run because they’re still learning. They’ve grown up learning from and looking up to these adults, and now, they’re discovering things about them that are challenging what they learned. These are some hard lessons and there will be more up ahead for these kids.

And of course, just wait until you get into CIVIL WAR II #5. You’re going to learn a lot about Miles’ significance in the entirety of the civil war that’s taking place across the Marvel Universe! I know we have a while until that point, given that we’ve only just read about the events of issue #2, but what can you tell us about the events in that momentous issue?

Brian Michael Bendis: What I can say is that someone comes and deliberately seeks Miles out. One of the heroes from one side of the fight approaches him to let him know they want and need him. They understand there’s something to be gained by having Miles fighting alongside them, too, and that’s why they approach him. So, while there are some heroes that are not directly involved with Civil War II, that’s not really going to be an option for Miles.

And I know this image was recently released, so I can talk about it as well, but you should see the cover to CIVIL WAR II #6—the one with Miles holding onto Captain America’s shield. It’s kind of hard to have that cover and not see Miles in a rather…significant role during this event! That definitely looks like one of those “points of no return!” So, what formative moments from Miles’ life as a solo super hero would you say might lead him to choose either Captain Marvel or Iron Man’s side?

Brian Michael Bendis: Here’s the important thing we need to remember: Miles’ dad knows that he’s a super hero, unlike his mother. And it’s also important to know that Jefferson’s not especially keen about the fact his son’s a costumed hero. He has an idea of what comes with that life, and understandably, doesn’t want that for him. But there’s something else: He’s also had some bad experiences with being profiled. He knows what it’s like firsthand to match the profile to a “T” without being guilty but still being hauled into custody.

It’s going to create an interesting circumstance where Miles actually comes to his dad for advice. See, he’s used to having some problem drop on his head and then go about punching it as his solution and then tell his dad about it after the fact. But now, Miles has a little lead time on the problem, so he’s actually going to his dad to see what he should do about how to handle this split in the super hero community. And that would seem to indicate Miles would lean towards Tony, given the anti-profiling stance he takes.

On the other hand, Miles now serves as a member of the Avengers. Do you think his experience as a member of a team would affect his decision about whose side to take especially when given the opportunity to prevent his friends from becoming such casualties as we’ve already seen?

Brian Michael Bendis: Exactly! That’s it exactly. You see, it’s not cut and dry. Because who wants a story they can predict? Otherwise, we’re just getting super hero comfort food. I want to challenge people as they read and make them think a bit. When we look at Captain Marvel as someone who’s out there looking to save lives and protect everyone they care about and love, it’s a little harder to say “no” to that. It’s something Miles is going to have to think about when the time comes. Well, especially given how unhinged Tony is in issue #2, Carol does seem like the more responsible choice, no? After all, Tony openly admits to torturing Ulysses!

Brian Michael Bendis: Right? I mean, this is a guy who pretended to be dead for months and now he just shows up again?! It changes the way you see him, and perhaps, the way you view the issue. Now, let’s look at some of Miles’ friends. Perhaps one of the elements of Miles that immediately endeared him to readers was the cast of supporting characters, like Ganke. Are there any particular points in his relationship with his friends that would push him one way or the other?

Brian Michael Bendis: Well, it goes back to the point I made earlier about how there’s this strong conflict brewing between the two different generations. And while we’ll definitely see Ganke later, don’t forget there are other friends of his who have superpowers but aren’t directly involved in the conflict like Goldballs and Bombshell. They’re all going to have to find a way to make sense of the “new norm” that will result from the fallout of Civil War II. Having covered all of the bases between family, fellow heroes, and friends, what’s the final answer: Captain Marvel or Iron Man?

Brian Michael Bendis: [Laughs] You’ll have to read and find out!

Find out for yourself in SPIDER-MAN #6 from Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli, available July 20!