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Miles Morales is Sony’s new Spider-Man, as was made clear during an energetic panel Saturday at New York Comic Con, where the audience was treated to a surprise look at the first 35 minutes of the animated film.
While the animation was not finished, the audience got a solid introduction to Miles’ origin, as well as his loving bond with his parents. The footage also demonstrated the authentic New York feel of the movie, with the audience seeing Miles dap up his friends, practice his art, listen to hip-hop, proudly wear his Jordans and speak Spanish to his mother.
“We said we wouldn’t want to do it unless it was Miles Morales’ story,” said Miller, reminding the audience that there have been six Spider-Man films featuring Peter Parker as Spidey before this one.
While Miles has the same powers as Peter, his experience is different as an Afro-Latino teenager from Brooklyn. Speaking about representing Brooklyn the right way, co-director Robert Persichetti Jr. noted it’s a borough filled with character.
“There’s so many things that were born out of New York: Marvel, hip-hop, graffiti, Miles. Each borough [in the film] has its own flavor and its own voice,” he said.
Fellow co-director Peter Ramsey praised the team that committed to Miles’ story through animation.
“At every step along the way, everybody on the team just pushed as hard as they could into this idea of using animation to be more expressive, to be like a comic book on its original source and try to bring New York 2018 to life in a way that everybody in the audience could understand it, so everyone could really go through this experience in Miles’ shoes,” he noted.
Speaking about voicing Miles, star Shameik Moore said he could relate to Miles, who in the film learns that he is just one of many Spider-Men (and women) in multiple universes, and who ends up being mentored by an older Peter Parker.
“I can relate to his upbringing,” Moore said of Miles. “When I was younger, when I first saw Miles Morales, I was like, ‘Dude, that’s the Black Spider-Man. I definitely want to play the Black Spider-Man one day.’ I wrote it down in a journal after filming Dope that I wanted to be Miles Morales and [wrote] ‘I am Miles Morales, I am Spider-Man.’ And two years later, I got the opportunity to meet these guys [Lord and Miller] and we made an amazing movie.”
Miles would not be the young man he is today without this solid upbringing. Brian Tyree Henry, who voices Miles’ police officer father, Jefferson Davis, and Lauren Velez, who stars as his mother, Rio Morales, spoke about getting into the role as Miles’ parents.
“There’s nothing more important to me than representation, so to see a black boy with his father, it’s a big deal,” Henry said. Henry also mentioned that Velez’s involvement with the film was one of the reasons he signed on. “We made a good man,” he said jokingly about their fictional son. Velez herself is a self-proclaimed Nuyorican and was proud to be part of the process.
“I’m a daughter of a cop, so seeing this family made me think so much of my own family growing up. The bilingual aspect, I’ve never seen in any animation,” she said, to which an audience member screamed “Wepa,” and Velez responded in kind.
By the end of the panel, fans were left with the message that while anyone can wear the mask, it’s who Miles is as a person that makes him fit to take up the role of Spider-Man.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse also stars Jake Johnson as Peter Parker and Hailee Steinfeld as Gwen Stacy. The film opens Dec. 14.
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