By Shaquille Woods, Contributing Writer
Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man has a new look. Though he still swings from skyscrapers, Miles Morales isn’t your typical Spider-Man. He is an Afro-Latin teenager who is trying to figure out the world before him. Audiences will explore that world in the new action-packed movie “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”
The movie brings together various Spider-Man characters into one thrilling visual masterpiece. However, the animated film did come with some challenges. We spoke with director Peter Ramsey, a Los Angeles native, and creative director, about how the team overcame those challenges.
LOS ANGELES SENTINEL NEWSPAPER: What was the biggest challenge in creating “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”?
PETER RAMSEY: The biggest challenge was the animation. We had a lot of brilliant people working on the technical side who helped bring the film to life. Another challenge was keeping the story personal from Miles point of view. We had multiple dimensions with different superheroes and supervillains. There was so much material swirling around the world. We asked ourselves, how do we always make sure the movie shows Miles Morales story and everything that your experiencing comes through him? We did that by focusing on his quest.
LAS: As a person of color, I enjoyed seeing a superhero that looked like me. How did you ensure that Miles’ portrayal felt authentic to viewers, especially people of color?
RAMSEY: We wanted to make sure that Miles had a real personality of his own. That he had charm and wit. We wanted to make sure you really liked him and that you understood him. We also factored in that he had imagination and creativity. It was really important to us because we were introducing a new version of Spider-Man.
LAS: Yes, especially his family in the film.
RAMSEY: Right! We paid a lot of attention to making his world look and feel real. We wanted his family to feel and look like a real family and that the viewer really understood the dynamics and relationship of that family. The relationship between him and his father are the heart of the movie. It is very much the heart of Miles journey into the very person he will become. The other side of his journey was his mom being from Puerto Rico. That also added to the uniqueness of him as a character. All of these things we wanted to make sure that when you walked out of the theater knowing Miles Morales, and you felt like you could walk out the door and run into him.
LAS: I could feel that after watching the movie especially the music.
RAMSEY: Miles is the first Spider-Man to come around in the hip-hop generation. Its very different from the world Peter Parker grew up in. Even if you go back to the Spider-Man movies of the nineties with Tobey Macquire, you can see we are in a different world. Right off the bat, Miles lives in Brooklyn. We asked ourselves, what is he listening to? What’s in his headphones? We know he is a hip-hop kid. The whole world of Brooklyn and art all of those things were part of the effort.
LAS: What do you want the audience to leave feeling?
Ramsey: On the very first treatment with producer Phil Lord, he wrote a mission statement that said: “We Are Counting On You.” That is the message we want to send to everyone, particularly younger people. Our story is about a young kid who is trying to find his way in the world and he draws from everything around him to realize who he is to fulfill his potential. The entire movie is that anyone can really wear that mask. You just have to try to live up to what it means. That’s really the message. We want people feeling like they can actually do it if they just give it a try.
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” releases everywhere Friday, Dec. 14.
This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Sentinel.