Marvel Apologizes Over Racist Spider-Man Portrayal

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Miles Morales Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse Spider-Sense

Credit: Sony Pictures and Marvel Entertainment

Earlier this week, creators at Marvel of the “What If…? Miles Morales” series, “What If…Miles Morales Became Thor? #4″ were lambasted by fans online for its racist tropes, and stereotypical and reductive portrayal of Black and Puerto-Rican communities, particularly in New York City, where the Spider-Man character Miles Morales is from.

What If Miles Morales Became Thor? Cover
Credit: Marvel

The “What If…?” Marvel comic book was written by Yehudi Mercado, with art by Luigi Zagaria and Paco Medina, and released by Marvel to celebrate 60 years of Spider-Man.

The swift call-outs and intense backlash prompted the writer of the story to post a tweet himself in response yesterday, apologizing to the fans and Black and Puerto-Rican communities:

I’ve taken the last few days to step back and listen, and I acknowledge your criticism for my recent issue of What If…Miles Morales was Thor. While I’ve lived a different experience through my own Jewish and Mexican background, I still know inauthenticity hurts, and I’m sorry this failed on that front. I’ve appreciated hearing and learning from my Black and Puerto Rican comics peers and hope to use this moment to help promote better authenticity. I’m also going to donate what Marvel paid me to the Brooklyn Book Bodega, which works to build literacy and get more books to kids in NYC

Related: Marvel Reveals the New Spider-Man For the Next “Amazing Spider-Man” Series

This tweet, however, itself caused a bit of a stir among fans online, who were not entirely satisfied with Mercado’s (and likely, Marvel’s) apology — despite his promise to donate books to kids in New York.

In response to the above apology tweet issued by Mercado, user @MasteroftheTDS quoted a previous tweet calling out the writer’s initial response to the backlash:

You seem so sorry here:

[quoted tweet] Seems like many people missed this so I am making people aware. I know the writer of the Miles Morales Thor comic has come out & apologized for his terrible and racist comic, however it’s a load of BS! Take a look at this response to the criticism before it was widespread. (1/2)

The tweet (now deleted) that @MasteroftheTDS had screenshotted previously, was posted by Mercado on June 14, 2022, the day before the Spider-Man “What If…? Miles Morales” comic book in question was officially published.

It reads:

I should have added more upskirt shots and then you would have loved it!

@MasteroftheTDS continues, explaining the context of Mercado’s “upskirt” tweet:

For context, the post was in response to a post calling him out (pictured below) and was quickly deleted once the backlash started to ramp up. I don’t know about you guys but this doesn’t feel at all sorry to me. (2/2)

Even more fans have begun responding to this apology, explaining that it wasn’t just that Mercado wasn’t a black writer — they’re disappointed in Mercado’s stubbornness in learning about other cultures and communities, @YourNerdWonder stating:

Yeeeeah….people are still really mad that you mocked a lot of readers for criticizing the work and only changed when news articles said it was bad. Look dude, your ethnicity is not the problem, its your willingness to learn of other cultures and step outside your boundaries.

User @ChecKtheCircuiT does not hesitate to point out the fact that other players at Marvel were also guilty of greenlighting many of the writer’s decisions, saying:

You tried. Not your fault. You had the best intentions & there was no malice there. However nothing goes to print without the editors looking at it & approving it. 3 editors,”look great, print it!” Those editors are Tom Groneman, Nick Lowe & C.B. Cebulski. Direct comments to them

It wasn’t all just call-outs, though. Other fans were quick to highlight and praise other Marvel properties that featured good representations.

@lebeau32 praised Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), the animated Miles Morales-centered movie, a collaboration between Sony Pictures and Marvel Entertainment:

It’s kind of sad this is what u thought when u wrote this story in 2022. Into the Spider-Verse was 1 of the most amazing Spiderman movies ever & Miles was normal & goofy & a perfect representation. Marvel Comics needs more representation. Really sad coming from another minority

Others were not even just disappointed, but entirely unaccepting of Mercado’s apology.

@ArkitecEnt completely rejects the apology, saying:

Um, Apology not accepted lol. I don’t think this needed a scripted response, it was done on purpose lol. The issue is that you perceive black culture in this way, and @Marvel using you to do this. Let’s stop playing games.

User @sangamegadrive showed off their uncanny ability to predict the future, quoting their own tweet from before Mercado responded to the backlash:

[quoted in screenshot] We’re collectively cringing at this terrible writing but we’re going to get a twitlonger apology from the artist about racial insensitivity before next weekend

Related: “Already the Best,” ‘Spider-Man’ Reveals NEW Marvel Villain

Marvel is no stranger to controversy and has even been called out before for making questionable casting decisions and even race-bending.

However, they have also been praised for accurate and timely representation of minorities, and have seen success doing so, such as with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021), and the recent Disney+ offering, Ms. Marvel (2022) starring Pakistani Muslim character, Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani).

Do you think this apology was good enough? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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