An Oklahoma State University diversity office official complained this week that the black lead character in the new Spiderman film does not have enough screen time.
Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse, which opened to critical and public acclaim in December, tells the story of Miles Morales, a black-hispanic teen who is bitten by a spider that gives him superpowers. In the film, Morales enlists the help of his counterparts is various alternate dimensions to help him grow into a hero and defeat a villain who could destroy New York City.
On December 31, Lawrence Ware, a diversity office official for Oklahoma State University penned an op-ed for the New York Times that condemned the film for forcing Miles to share screen time with the alternate dimension superheroes.
“Miles Morales, the first Afro-Latino Spider-Man, was the focus for the first half of the film, but, thereafter, he became a Spider-Man among Spider-Men,” Lawrence Ware, co-director of the Center for Africana Studies at Oklahoma State University, wrote in the column. “He was no longer the focus, and that puts me in a tough place as a father of young children.”
Ware says that he has a hard time allowing his children to enjoy the movie due to its alleged treatment of its main character.
“Miles spoke to them in a unique way, and while I want them to see the world clearly and learn to critique the pop culture they consume, I am going to let them enjoy this imperfect superhero movie,” he added. “For LJ and Quinn to identify so deeply with black characters onscreen is important. I have decided to lay aside analysis and allow them to love this movie … in spite of its flaws.”
“I just wish there were less of them and more of Miles,” he goes xx to say about the film’s other heroes.
But Ware’s position really doesn’t make sense. Miles Morales is the heart of the movie, from beginning to end. He does, of course, elicit the help of the other Spidermen characters to help him in the end, but their roles are unquestionably secondary to Miles’.
“We cannot expect kids to be as woke as we are,” Ware finished. But is that really the issue here? The New York Times readers told Ware just how ridiculous his column was in the comments.
“I’ve seen way too many complaints that since this is Miles’ first movie/it’s the first black Spiderman/etc, he ‘shouldn’t be sharing the stage’,” one commenter wrote. “He was center stage the whole time for me, while the others were really entertaining but very definitely secondary characters.”
“Miles Morales was front and center the entire movie, not just the first half,” another commenter added.