Fri | Jul 19, 2019

Biracial Spiderman of Jamaican decent

Published:Wednesday | December 12, 2018 | 12:00 AM
This image released by Sony Pictures Animations, shows a scene from 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse'.
Shameik Moore stars as the voice of the Miles Morales, a biracial Spider Man.
Brian Tyree Henry, a cast member in 'Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse'.


A journal entry penned when Shameik Moore was a teenager laid out one of his dreams - to play Spider-Man on the big screen. That dream is now partially realised, with Moore serving as the voice of the webslinger in the new animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Moore plays Miles Morales, a biracial Brooklyn teen who gains an array of superpowers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. Morales melds his superpowers, including enhanced hearing and wall-crawling and camouflage abilities, while putting his own stamp on the character. Gone are Peter's Parker's blue-and-red outfits, replaced by a red-and-black version and a cool pair of sneakers.

Moore's ambition was to be the face of Spider-Man in a live-action film, some-thing he still hopes will happen. But for now, he's happy to serve as Morales' voice in Into the Spider-Verse, which is in theatres Friday and has already drawn rave reviews.

"The story now is coming out through me. So with great power comes great responsibility," he said, referenc-ing an oft-repeated line from the Spider-verse of film and comics. "It's a black Spider-Man, and he looks like me."


New Times in film


"It's a new time in Hollywood," said Moore, who is 23 and of Jamaican descent. "Not only are we in live-action superhero movies, but they are animating us now," he said. "I'm honoured to be the first black Spider-Man (in a film)." Into the Spider-Verse was last week nominated by the Golden Globes for Best Animated Film and has generated some Oscar buzz that could lead to a superhero showdown with Incredibles 2 and Ralph Breaks the Internet. It boasts a 99 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has drawn rave reviews for its visual style and deft management of a storyline that features six distinct versions of Spider-Man. The multiple Spideys teams up to thwart a plot by Marvel supervillain Kingpin, who hatches a plan to wreak havoc across multiple realities.

Moore almost had a divergent path to becoming Spider-Man. He first auditioned to play the webslinger years ago with other multiracial candidates, but the role of Spider-Man and his alter-ego Peter Parker ultimately went to Tom Holland, who made his debut in Captain America: Civil War, anchored the stand-alone film Spider-Man: Homecoming, and had a key role in Avengers: Infinity War.

The actor's fascination with Morales started after seeing Donald Glover voice the character on Disney's Ultimate Spider-Man a few years ago. The character was introduced in comic books in 2011 after President Barack Obama and Glover, inspired by Morales' creation, sported Spider-Man pyjamas on a different TV show.




Moore recalled how director Rick Famuyiwa, who cast him in the 2015 film Dope, considered him to play Morales in a live-action film, but he said those plans were scrapped after "somebody in power got switched around" and decided to make it an animated film.

Producers said they went the animation route because computer graphic illustrators could mimic comic-book movements better. With the process of blending CGI and hand-drawn animation, it took three years to develop Into the Spider-Verse.

Regardless of awards or box-offices success, Spider-Verse cast members believe the film will inspire audiences. The movie explores Morales' biracial culture and the upbringing of the character who swings around the city wearing Air Jordan sneakers.

"I can't imagine if I was a kid and there was a black or brown Spider-Man. I would have been so excited," said Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali, who is the voice of Morales' uncle Aaron Davis, aka Prowler. "This opens doors for a different generation to sort of believe in different possibilities. There's a generation that came into the world knowing Barack Obama was their president and never thought it was strange or a huge feat. Hopefully, this can be the same."

Brian Tyree Henry, who plays Morales' police-officer father Jefferson Davis, called the film "necessary". He said he and Ali's characters showed the importance of having strong men in the teen's life.

"I teared up sometimes. It made me think about my upbringing," said Henry, who stars in Atlanta and If Beale Street Could Talk. ''My father is still alive and in my life. ... The number of black men who [Morales] had in his life were actually there for him, guiding him. I love that the Marvel Universe is giving that representation a face, a name, and giving it a superpower."