A Hero for Everyone: ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Embraces Diversity and Inclusion
Spider-Man is on everyone’s lips again and for good reason. In “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” Miles Morales returns to the center of the plot, inspiring the entire world with his empowering journey.
The film, which continues the path of the successful “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” takes the exploration of diversity to new heights.
The film features a vibrant array of characters from diverse cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds. More specifically, the story of Miles Morales resonates deeply with Latino audiences, who finally see themselves reflected on the big screen.
Similarly, Miguel O’Hara, the first Latino Spider-Man, is the antagonist. Latino audiences have given these characters a standing ovation in this year’s most acclaimed superhero film.
The son of an African-American father and Puerto Rican mother, Miles Morales represents diversity in the character’s ability to embrace his heritage. O’Hara, meanwhile, represents the old guard.
Undoubtedly, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is an ode to inclusion and breaks barriers in the superhero genre.
In the film, Oscar Issac voices Miguel O’Hara; Shameik Moore voices Miles; Latina actress Lauren Velez voices Miles’ mother, Rio Morales, while Hailee Steinfeld voices the amazing Gwen Stacy.
The latter three actors spoke with mitú about their experience on “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” the importance of representation, cultural diversity, and female empowerment.
Spider-Man and the search for identity
“Miles’ journey is about finding his place and navigating the expectations of those he admires,” said Shameik Moore, who has immersed himself in the Puerto Rican culture to become the biracial young Spider-Man. “His struggle is very relatable, allowing audiences to connect with him and encouraging them to embrace their unique identities.”
“Miles is finding his way as a Black Latino young man, a superhero, and part of a multiverse. It’s very hard for him, as it is for every minority kid,” Moore continued.
However, Miles Morales’ story goes much deeper than that.
“The movie also explores the limitless possibilities of the multiverse. To me, it’s a representation of life, and we are all Spider-Man,” adds Moore.
In fact, the movie’s argument is that every strand of the multiverse comes from a Spider-Man, transcending the idea of a story specific to Peter Parker.
The role of a Latina mom
For Laura Velez, who plays Morales’ mom, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” delves into family dynamics.
“It’s a joy to see an Afro-Latino family at the center of such a powerful story,” she said.
In fact, to voice the character, Velez incorporated the spirit of her own mother.
“Rio is my mami. Her tone of voice, her sayings, her passion for our Latino culture, and her love for her child. That is all mi mamá,” she said.
The importance of an AfroLatino Spider-Man to the audience
“All interactions with fans are special, but seeing little Black and Latino boys so excited because I look like them are the closest to my heart,” said Moore. “It is also moving because I’m personally surprised they’re moved that way.”
Velez agrees: “For me, the best part is a fan’s response to seeing an Afro-Latino superhero. Always.”
“I mean, it just moves me very much because when I was growing up, I didn’t have that, and I didn’t see it,” she continued. “And I see these kids’ faces when they see Miles or Shameek in person or the little girls when they see Haley. I mean, that is just it’s a new world. And we see it in the faces of our young kids when they see them.”
Spider-Gween is also what the franchise needed
Finally, the diversity and inclusiveness of “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” could not be complete without Gwen Stacey, aka, Spider-Gween.
Yes, just as you read it. We will finally have our Spider-Woman.
“I still have moments of realization that’s that that’s actually happening,” voice actress Hailee Steinfeld, who is also the young Falcon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, told mitú.
“I do these roles for women of all ages, young women specifically, that watch these films and feel moved by them,” she concluded. “They see themselves in them.”
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