SHAMEIK MOORE SLINGS WEBS AS 1ST BIRA­CIAL SPI­DER-MAN IN FILM

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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 re­al­ized 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, 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 Spi­derMan in a live-ac­tion film, some­thing he still hopes will hap­pen. But for now, he’s happy to serve as Mo­rales’ voice in “Into the Spi­der-Verse,” which is in the­aters Fri­day and has al­ready drawn rave re­views.

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

“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 hon­ored to be the first black Spi­der-Man (in a film).”

“Into the Spi­der-Verse” last week was 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 per­cent rat­ing on Rot­ten Toma­toes and has drawn rave re­views for its visual style and deftly man­ag­ing of a sto­ry­line that fea­tures six dis­tinct ver­sions of Spi­der-Man. The mul­ti­ple Spideys team 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 Spi­derMan pa­ja­mas 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 of “Spi­der-Verse” 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.”

“Our an­i­ma­tion is so ex­ag­ger­ated that the best stunt­man in world couldn’t do it,” said Chris Miller, who co-pro­duced the film with Phil Lord, one of its co-writ­ers. The filmmaking duo is known for “21 Jump Street” and “The Lego Movie.” “At least in this film, he can move the same way as the comics. If any­thing, this doesn’t box out a live-ac­tion Miles movie. It ac­tu­ally brings more aware­ness to it.”

Moore says he hopes it hap­pens sooner than later.

“I’m very phys­i­cal. I don’t need the mask to do flips,” he said. “I won’t need a stunt dou­ble . ... But if they take like six, seven years, I’ll be older and won’t be able to play it.”

Re­gard­less of awards or box of­fices suc­cess, “Spi­der-Verse” cast mem­bers be­lieve the film will in­spire au­di­ences. The movie ex­plores Mo­rales’ bira­cial cul­ture and up­bring­ing of the char­ac­ter that 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.”

If “Spi­der-Verse” is suc­cess­ful, more films could fol­low.

“I think the stu­dios would be very ex­cited to make more of these,” said Peter Ram­sey, co-di­rec­tor with Rod­ney Roth­man and Bob Per­sichetti. “Right now, it still has to come out and al­low the au­di­ence to fall in love with it. There’s so much po­ten­tial.”

On­line: www.in­tothes­pi­der­verse.movie

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