It was the biggest hint yet that somewhere in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Miles Morales — an alternate universe version of Spider-Man who made his Marvel Comics debut in the Ultimate imprint a decade ago and was the animated star of 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — awaits.
In the final scenes of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Electro — as played by actor Jamie Foxx — beholds the three different versions of the Webslinger and remarks, “There’s gotta be a Black Spider-Man out there somewhere.” Fans, of course, know there is, and such a seemingly offhanded comment only makes their questions more urgent: When might Miles Morales make his MCU debut, and more importantly, what actors would be the right fit for the role?
UPDATE: 2022/09/08 11:00 EST BY SHAWN S. LEALOS
While there is no word on whether Miles Morales is headed to the MCU, the recent rash of new characters could open the door for his introduction. With Ms. Marvel such a success on Disney+, and Miles Morales sharing a close friendship with her in the comics, he could easily slide into a role with her on a new MCU team, whether this is the Young Avengers with characters like Kate Bishop and America Chavez, or The Champions. There is also a chance that Miles could show up alongside Peter Parker in the MCU, although there is no word on when, or if, a new Spider-Man movie is coming anytime soon to the big screen from Marvel and Sony’s partnership. Regardless, as fans wait, plenty of great options for who could play Miles Morales keep popping up.
Jharrel Jerome is both an actor and rapper, and that seems to play well into Miles Morales, who has his love of music play a big role in his animated movie.
Of course, there is a lot more needed than just the surface aspects of who could play Miles Morales, but Jerome has proven his skills in movies like Moonlight, where he played Kevin, Chiron’s love interest, as well as the Netflix movies When They See Us and Concrete Cowboy. At 24, he is getting close to aging out on Miles, but it wouldn’t be the first time that an older actor played a teenager.
Justice Smith has experience starring in major budget movies against special effects, so he could slide right in as someone who could play Miles Morales in the MCU. He played the main human character in Detective Pikachu, with Ryan Reynolds taking on the voice of his CGI partner.
While Smith wasn’t the superhero in that movie, he still had his share of action scenes, and that should prepare him for a bigger role for one of Marvel’s most anticipated superheroes that haven’t shown up in a movie yet. He is a lot older than Miles, at 27, but he looks a lot younger and could play a teenager if the MCU went in that direction.
Rhenzy Feliz has already played a superhero in the Marvel television universe, as he starred as Alex Wilder in Marvel’s Runaways on Hulu. However, that show was never considered canon to the MCU, so there is a chance that he could show back up in a very different role in the future.
What is disappointing about Feliz’s career is that he hasn’t done much of anything since Runaways, although he did voice Camilo in Encanto. Getting a high-profile role like Miles Morales could do wonders for his career, much as it did for Iman Vellani when she was cast as Ms. Marvel.
RJ Cyler got his first big role in the drama movie Me and Earl and the Dying Girl in 2015, but he showed his action chops when he played Billy Cranston in the 2017 Power Rangers movie. While he played a young man on the spectrum, he was also able to show more range in the movie as the monster-fighting Blue Ranger.
Cyler also had a chance at a comic book property with the underrated Swamp Thing on DC Universe, where he had a recurring role. However, his career has been mostly lowkey since Power Rangers, and he has both the looks and charisma of someone who could play Miles Morales and work wonders with it.
Tyler James Williams
Tyler James Williams is someone that a lot of people know thanks to two high-profile television roles. He was a young Chris Rock on Everybody Hates Chris, and then he starred as Noah on The Walking Dead. However, he faces the same challenge as other actors who could play Miles Morales.
Williams is 29, so he might not be able to play the teenage Miles in the MCU. If Marvel decides to go with an older teen, around Kamala Khan’s age, it could work, but they can’t go with the 13-year-old that gained the powers in the comics.
If the actor made famous by his star turn as Lucas Sinclair in Stranger Things gets the nod, Marvel filmmakers better hurry his entrance along: McLaughlin turned 20 this year, and while his acting chops demonstrate he can play a range of ages, his ability to outwardly channel a 13-year-old will be stretching the boundary of credibility as McLaughlin gets older.
As one of Stranger Things‘ best characters, he excelled in comedic timing and delivery, but it was his role as Cole, the wayward teen at the heart of the Netflix drama Concrete Cowboy, that showed he has the gravitas needed to play Miles. All Spider-Men carry a heavy burden as heroes, from the guilt of watching loved ones and heroes die to the stress a secret life puts on family relationships, and McLaughlin has the strength to balance those things with the playfulness that’s also required to make an MCU Miles Morales fun to watch.
The son of actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith is no stranger to the camera, having first appeared alongside his father in 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness when he was just 8 years old. Now 23, he, like McLaughlin, is quickly aging out of the early teenage range in which fans were first introduced to Miles Morales, but de-aging special effects wouldn’t be needed given Smith’s boyish appearance and natural precociousness.
While he could certainly pull off a turn as Miles, however, his music career — as well as his sometimes controversial social media presence — might prove to be too much of a distraction for Disney. Although he’s a bold personality, and one that could carry the role, Smith’s fame might overwhelm a part that will be one of the biggest additions to the MCU since its inception.
If any actor seems destined to land the role of a character with his own first name, it may very well be Miles Brown, best known as Jack Johnson in the ABC comedy Black-ish. He even has similar multicultural roots as his proposed fictional counterpart: His father, rapper Wildchild, is Black, while his mother, Cyndee Brown, is Filipino and Mexican.
Throw in Brown’s other skills — his background in dance is as strong as his ability to act; he’s put out his own album (“We the Future,” released in 2020); and he was tapped as one of Hollywood’s top 30 stars under 18 by The Hollywood Reporter — and you have a thespian who can nail the transformation of Miles Morales from reluctant hero to worthy successor of the Miles Morales Spider-Man mantle and his awesome powers.
Another biracial actor from Black-ish who would be a worthy candidate for who could play Miles Morales, Marcus Scribner got his acting start when he was 10 and is clearly comfortable in front of the camera. His athletic abilities might also come in handy for the action sequences that would undoubtedly be required for a role in the MCU.
Like many other candidates, Scribner’s age — he turns 22 in 2022 — means the clock is ticking if he were to win the role, and it’s likely a stretch to place him as the 13-year-old Marvel fans first meet when Miles dons his signature black-and-red suit. His droll delivery and expressive personality, however, means he would nail the part if given a chance to bring the character to life.
Donald Glover proved that actors who sing, and vice-versa, bring a versatility to the big screen that helps them own whatever part in which they’re cast. As Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story, he nearly stole the film; as rapper Childish Gambino, he’s released one hit after another.
It only makes sense, then, that J.D. McCrary, who considers Glover a mentor, is cut from the same cloth. He’s made waves as a singer, appearing on Little Big Shots and backing up Gambino on the song “Terrified,” and he voiced young Simba in the live-action remake of The Lion King, which featured Glover as his older character. As Kenny on the OWN sitcom The Paynes, he’s got some acting chops as well, and because he’s only 14, he may well be an ideal candidate for someone who could play Miles Morales.
If the only impression viewers have of Lonnie Chavis is his portrayal of young Randall Pearson in flashbacks of the NBC drama This Is Us, they may be under the impression that the adorable youngster with a gap-toothed grin is too young. Child actors grow quickly, however, and Chavis turns 15 in 2022, making him the ideal age to tackle the role of Miles Morales, beloved by comic books fans and MCU acolytes alike.
He’s already on Hollywood’s radar as an up-and-coming star, having carried David Oyelowo’s directorial debut The Water Man. Unlike other contenders for a part in the MCU, however, his fame has been quietly but steadily growing since he made his on-screen debut, and his versatility gives him the ability to help carry a story or provide work as an auxiliary character.
Myles Truitt already has experience playing a superpowered character, thanks to his role as Issa Williams on the series Black Lightning. Of course, any actor’s ability to inhabit the roles in which he or she is cast doesn’t mean previous superhero work is required for the thespian who eventually winds up in the Miles Morales costume, but Truitt’s previous turn in comic book storytelling might be a factor in his favor.
In addition, he has experience working alongside some heavy Hollywood hitters: In 2018, he was the child star of Kin, and while the film flopped, it saw him hold his own alongside Dennis Quaid, James Franco, Zoë Kravitz, and Michael B. Jordan. The ability to own his character without getting lost in the shadow of the MCU’s bigger stars is a must, and Truitt’s experience plays in his favor.
Blessed with a baby face that would allow him to play a character like Miles Morales who’s younger than Chosen’s actual age (he’ll be 21 in 2022), Jacobs is also no stranger to big-screen blockbusters: He nailed the part of young Mike Hanlon in the recent Andy Muschietti two-part well-liked adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel It. Given his costars, including the prolific Finn Wolfhard, that was no easy task.
Again, the key to ensuring he sticks the landing is casting him before he ages out of the range of believability. Although he could technically play a 13-year-old Miles Morales, unless Marvel plans on subsequent character appearances as an older teen or young adult, Jacobs is pushing against the ceiling of the ideal acting candidacy for this integral Marvel character.
Every so often, a child actor comes along who needs no previous acting experience in order to capture viewers’ hearts. Edward Furlong did it in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Alex Hibbert did it as “Little” Chiron in the groundbreaking, award-winning, and beautifully made film Moonlight. Acting alongside Mahershala Ali, who will bring Blade to life in the MCU, Hibbert demonstrated natural abilities in front of the camera that became the heart and soul of the film’s first third.
Such earnestness is what made Miles Morales such a compelling character in Into the Spider-Verse, and fans eagerly awaiting his big-screen debut in the MCU will undoubtedly compare the live-action character to his animated counterpart. With an actor like Hibbert under the mask, all of the angst and sweetness needed to keep Miles true to form will be accounted for.
The 14-year-old Smedley, who turns 15 in 2022, already has ties to the MCU: He played a young version of Tyrone “Ty” Johnson, also known as the hero Cloak, in the Freeform series Cloak & Dagger. With additional roles in WGN America’s Underground and Netflix’s All About the Washingtons, he’s a comfortable fixture in front of the camera, but not so well-known that his presence would detract viewers from his potential portrayal of Miles Morales.
In addition, his age plays in his favor. Younger than peers who might be in the running for the coveted MCU role of who could play Miles Morales, Smedley has both the chops and the range to win over viewers anxious to see Morales in his live-action glory, perhaps as part of the cast of whatever big-screen Spider-Man adventures will follow No Way Home.