How Richard Pryor Indirectly Altered The Course Of Marvel Comics
Have you ever had a conversation with a friend that ended up being mind-blowing? Well, over a Friendsgiving dinner, a buddy of mine took me on a journey through the connections between Richard Pryor and the comic book universe of Marvel. And let me tell you, it’s a wild ride worth sharing.
It all starts with Richard Pryor getting an early discharge from the Army. A lot of people don’t know that Richard was in the army before becoming a comedian. However, he spent a lot of his time in the military incarcerated because of an incident that happened during his time in West Germany.
After he was discharged, he decided to give stand up comedy a shot. In the beginning, his comedy wasn’t edgy, but once he started getting vulgar, his fame quickly rose.
That’s when movie opportunities started coming up. Richard was in an 80s film called “The Toy” where he was an old rich man’s play thing. In one of the movie’s scenes, Richard is seen wearing Spider-Man pajamas.
Almost 30 years later, a sitcom by the name of “Community” was on television. On the show a character named Troy Barnes (played by Donald Glover) was living with Pierce Hawthorne (played by Chevy Chase) and their whole situation was very similar to the plot of “The Toy.”
To pay homage to Pryor’s movie, the opening credits of one of the episodes had Troy waking up in Pierce’s house, wearing Spider-Man pajamas. Which sparked the idea that Donald Glover should play the next live action Spider-Man. Hence, the hashtag #DonaldForSpiderman was born.
At the time, Sony was looking into rebooting the Spider-Man movies following Tobey Maguire’s run as the super hero and fans of community flooded social media with the idea that Donald should play the next version of the character on the big screen. That role, however, was taken by Andrew Garfield.
But because of how many people wanted Donald to play Spider-Man, it caught the attention of the people at Marvel comics and an artist named Brian Bendis decided to create a new character named Miles Morales — The first black/hispanic Spider-Man.
Miles immediately became a huge hit with fans. He took off! Everyone loved Miles, but while different versions of Peter Parker have existed in comics, Marvel had never really explored the idea of the “spider-verse” before. But because of the popularity of Miles Morales, it helped to kick off what was soon to be known as the spider-verse.
Donald eventually gets to voice Miles in a Spider-Man cartoon and he even plays Aaron Davis (who is Miles’ uncle) in the MCU. He even directly references Miles in Tom Holland’s “Homecoming” Spider-Man movie.
One could argue this all happened because of Richard Pryor.
So the next time you make a career change, you might just be taking the first step of a path that can change the world… and pop culture.