This was a major day for the upcoming animated Spider-Man movie. It was not only officially announced when the film would be released -- December 2018 -- but it was also confirmed that it will be the first feature to center on comic book hero Miles Morales instead of Peter Parker. I personally learned this news while sitting in a presentation at Sony Pictures Animation, and it was paired with a special preview that provided a taste of what they're doing with the project visually. As cool as the footage was, however, something significant within it caught my eye: it doesn't appear that Miles Morales will be wearing his normal comic book costume in his big screen debut, and will instead be sporting the more familiar red-and-blue spandex.
To catch some of you up, Miles Morales was first introduced to Marvel Comics within the alternate "Ultimate Universe" back in 2011 -- following the death of that continuity's Peter Parker. Much like his predecessor, he is a teenager who got superpowers after being bitten by a radioactive spider, and uses those abilities for good while wearing a costume and fighting the supervillains of New York. One notable difference, however, is that Miles wears a very different look than the classic Peter Parker get-up you see above -- as his gear is mostly black with red webbing designs:
Rather than featuring this design in the hyper-stylized reel that was screened at Sony Pictures Animation, the Spider-Man that was featured instead wore a much more traditional red and blue design -- as featured not only in decades of comics and TV shows, but also six live-action movies to date. Sadly there wasn't time or opportunity during the presentation to ask any questions about the preview, so those of us in the audience were left only to ask amongst ourselves why Miles Morales wasn't sporting his typical get-up.
Before this all gets blown out of proportion, it should be stressed just how young the animated Spider-Man is in terms of development. It was noted that what was shown was not even anything that could be called "footage," and Sony Pictures Animation President Kristine Belson described the reel as a "very, very early slice of visual development," edited "from designs, a few tests [they] did, [and] some exploratory artwork." It was put together to provide simply a "taste of what is possible," and, as a result, the finished product will likely be radically different.
That on the table, there are a number of explanations for what's happening here. The first is that the animation started to come together before a decision about the protagonist's true identity had been made -- meaning that the artists just started drawing the typical version of Spider-Man. Another possibility is that the work was done with the red and blue costume to try and prevent Miles Morales talk from leaking out of the offices (though that didn't exactly work). The animators may have also found that using the Peter Parker outfit in the early days just made things easier in the planning process -- having full intention of putting Miles in his normal black-and-reds when real material was being made. Or perhaps there will be one sequence in the traditional colors, and most of the movie will have the Ultimate design.
Of course, it's also possible that the reason why it's a red and blue costume in the reel is because Miles Morales will be wearing a red and blue costume in the animated Spider-Man movie. Playing devil's advocate, this makes sense from a marketing perspective, as audiences worldwide are familiar with those colors and might be irked by them changing. That being said, it would be a seriously disappointing move if this is actually the course of action. It's a great thing that Miles Morales is getting his own blockbuster, but it would be unfair to an iteration of Spider-Man who has spent years being established as his own character, and has earned his own significant fanbase. Sony has clearly recognized that Miles deserves his own spotlight, but not giving him his own duds would feel like coming up short.
For all the reasons mentioned earlier, it's entirely possible that this is totally a non-issue, and that by the time the animated Spider-Man movie rolls around on December 21, 2018 the world will be plastered with posters of the web-slinging hero dressed in black and red. If that isn't the case, however, here's hoping that Sony Pictures Animation will change their plans so that Miles Morales gets the big screen debut that he deserves.