"You're the best of all of us, Miles. You're on your way. Just ... just keep going"
First introduced in the Marvel Comics series Amazing Fantasy in August of 1962, the character of Spider-Man grew immensely in popularity in the decades to follow and, above all other superheroes, became the flagship character of the company. Nowadays, Spider-Man is the most recognised and commercially successful superhero, as movies and video games staring the character routinely brake sales records.
In his original appearance in the comic series in the 60s, Spider-Man's true identity is the High School student Peter Benjamin Parker who lives with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Peter is a smart school kid who gets bitten by a radioactive spider which grants him his supernatural abilities. This backstory was chosen with purpose, to create a younger and more relatable superhero for a teenage audience. Additionally, his young age gives Peter the ability to grow with each comic book series and therefore live through his own coming of age story. It is therefore not surprising that there are numerous different story threads which were explored over the years, including other characters besides Peter, who pick up the mantle of Spider-Man. Of all these incarnations one of the most impactful for the current state of the Spider-Man franchise, is Miles Gonzalo Morales. Envisioned by Axel Alonso and created by Brian Michael Bendis and the artist Sara Pichelli, Miles takes over the role of Spider-Man after Peter's death in the Ultimate Marvel story line. First appearing in the comic issue Ultimate Fallout #4, the character has since been the focus of the movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse from 2018 and of the video game Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales from 2020. Since I am not very familiar with the Marvel comic books, it was the 2018 animated movie that first introduced me to the character.
"When do I know I'm Spider-man?"
Produced by Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse retells the story of Miles becoming Spider-Man with a fundamental twist: He is not the lone superhero in the movie but instead is aided by different incarnations of Spider-Man from other universes. This not only offers a new spin on the classic origin narrative but a completely unique artistic direction for the movie, as each of the different character brings their own art and animation style, inspired by their respective comic series. This is done with remarkable nuance and attention to detail. For example: In the beginning of his journey of becoming Spider-Man, Miles is animated in a lower frame-rate as the other heroes, hinting at his clumsiness and inexperience. That changes in a pivotal scene of the movie, when Miles finally embraces the Spider-Man persona and takes a leap of faith off a skyscraper in New York City. During his subsequent swinging through the city, his animation becomes faster and more fluent, while the song "What's Up Danger" by Blackway & Black Caviar underlines the montage. It is one of the most beautiful and excellently realised scenes in an animated movie and it stuck with me long after I had left the cinema.
Miles new outfit is particularly interesting. While he eventually only wears his iconic black Spider-Man suit, during the previously described scene he is still wearing a hoodie, a jacket, shorts and a pair of Nike shoes on top of it. Miles is still unsure about his powers at the start of the scene, so he takes the subway to get to the skyscraper and obviously wants to stay incognito on his way there, which explains the casual outfit. But this new look also fits thematically to the figure of Spider-Man, maybe even more than his usual onesie. Historically, the hero was always meant to be younger, more relaxed and down-to-earth than other superheroes. The "friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man"-mantra is nowhere better symbolised than in Miles' outfit: No nanotechnology, spider legs or gadgets. He just saves the day in a casual fit, like any teen would. It is for that reason, that Miles' Spider-Man costume from the movie is my favourite out of all the outfits so far.
"You won't! That's all it is, Miles. A leap of faith"
Even before seeing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, I already had an idea for the head design of the figure. In 2013 the LEGO® Group released an oval serving tray (Part-ID 11252) in white (Colour-ID 1) as part of the Collectible Minifigure series. When I first saw the part back then, I was immediately reminded of the distinct shape of the eyes on Spider-Man's mask. But I did not pursue building a prototype for the figure back then. The Spider-Man outfits I had known from the live-action movies up to that point all featured a very distinct web-pattern on the the mask and suit and I was adamant it could not be adequately recreated with LEGO® parts. The web-pattern on Miles' new suit, however, is barely noticeable in the film as it is kept in a similar shade of black as the rest of the suit. I therefore decided to completely omit it, which allowed for much more freedom in the design process and made creating a full figure finally feasible. Right after seeing the movie in 2018, I built the first prototype for the head, featuring an armour piece (Part-ID 21560) form the LEGO® large figure line to create forehead.
Although I managed to design the head in just a few minutes, the rest of the figure took a lot of time and trial-and-error to get right. So much in fact, that I finished the model in 2021, three years after the movie originally released. Of course, most of the time the model was just sitting on the shelf in a half finished state with barely any progress being made for weeks and months. The biggest hurdle was designing the torso and shoulders. I wanted to design the jacket in a way that made it look loose and layered, like the original. But it always became too thick and blocky. The breakthrough was integrating the red (Colour-ID 5) inner jacket into the dark-green (Colour-ID 80) outer one to get a slimmer overall design. Some noteworthy part solutions for the torso are a red rubber band (Part-ID 71321) around a black 3*3 dish (Part-ID 43898) with a LEGO® spider (Part-ID 29111) on top to recreate the iconic Spider-Man logo as well as red whips (Part-ID 88704) to serve as the drawstrings of the hood. My personal highlight of the figure are the shoes. Although I did not manage to get the Nike logo on them, using rubber bands as shoe laces and LEGO® Belville bibs (Part-ID 30111c01) as the shoe tongues is a perfect fit in my opinion.