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Donald Glover Is Spider-Man At Last (In Disney XD’s Animated Spider-Man Series)

“My name is Miles Morales, and I’m Spider-Man.” With those words, Donald Glover takes his place among the ranks of official on-screen Spider-Men.

It’s been known for a while now that Miles Morales, the Ultimate Universe version of Spider-Man, would make his screen debut in an upcoming episode of the Disney XD series Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors, but only now do we know that the part will be voiced by actor and Spidey fan Donald Glover. It’s a brilliant casting decision that we choose to interpret as the first step towards more Miles in other media, rather than an end in its own right.

Glover, also known as rapper Childish Gambino and as the character Troy Barnes in Community, was the subject of an online campaign to get him an audition for the role of Peter Parker in the Spider-Man movies back in 2010, when Tobey Maguire had left and Andrew Garfield had yet to be chosen. Glover endorsed the campaign, saying, “I truly love Spider-Man.”

While the campaign didn’t have the intended effect, it did have a consequential impact. Writer Brian Michael Bendis later acknowledged that the idea of Glover playing Spider-Man helped influence the creation of Miles Morales, the black Latino kid who replaced the late Peter Parker as Spider-Man in Marvel’s alternate reality Ultimate Universe comics. (Bendis acknowledges that he was also influenced by his own family. He and his wife Alisa have two adopted daughters who are black.)

The lead Spider-Man in Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors is, rather confusingly, not the current Ultimate Spider-Man from the comics, but another version of Peter Parker. The events of the series will see Parker travelling between realities on the trail of the Green Goblin as the villain collects DNA from various Spider-Men, in an animated answer to the comics’ fast approaching ‘Spider-Verse’ story. In one of those realities, the local Parker is dead and the 13-year-old Morales has taken his place.

The above clip actually does a pretty good job of summarizing all of that, while also providing a glimpse of Glover’s performance as the smart, sharp Morales.

Seeing Glover bring any version of Spider-Man to life feels like a wish fulfilled, and it’s especially rewarding to finally see Morales get some love beyond the comic page. It isn’t enough, of course. Now Marvel has whet our appetite, we’d like to see a full Miles Morales animated series — and a movie or three. Glover told USA Today that he still has hope of doing something like a Spider-Man movie one day, but added, “I don’t look at this as second place. Spider-Man, he’s such an icon — you have to do something with him.”

The Miles Morales episode of Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors will air next year. The series premiere is this Sunday.

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