The excellent animated pic Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse gives a whole new spin to the Spider-Man lore. Bolstered by a hilarious and poignant script, colorful characters and action-packed sequence, Spider-Verse is a visual treat that rivals all the Marvel films before it.
The film centers on young Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a prep school teenager who’s bitten by a radioactive spider and becomes the Spider-Man of his reality. When Miles inadvertently meets his Spider-Man counterparts from other dimensions, including a version of Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), they have to band together to stop Wilson Fink aka Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) from wiping out all reality.
We sat down for an exclusive chat with Johnson and Moore recently to talk about playing their different versions of Spider-Man, being part of the MCU, and which Avengers they’d like to team up with. Check it out below, and enjoy!
This movie is so good, hands down one of the best Marvel movies ever. What was your experience when you first saw it?
Jake Johnson: We had the same experience you did. We laughed our asses off. The action was great. It looked amazing. You know, we experienced what the critics and the fans are experiencing. We were blown away.
I’d imagine when you do a live-action movie, you can get the sense if the movie is good or not. When you’re doing an animated movie, though, is it the same?
Shameik Moore: You hope. You definitely hope and you believe.
Jake Johnson: Yeah. And this one was different. You know, a lot of voiceover jobs are like two or three records and you’re done. This wasn’t that experience. This was, we’d both been recording this one for two and a half years. It wasn’t the way [producers] Phil Lord and Chris Miller and our directors work is, it wasn’t, “Do the best you can, and we move on.” It was, “You constantly work, and you constantly work at it.”
So we knew we had something special, just the amount of sweat equity you put into this one. The amount of times each line you would do. Each scene you would do over, and over, and over. We knew that if they were putting this much time in the booth, they were putting that much time into the animation and music and everything.
I remember talking to you, Jake, about superhero movies a while back, and you were like, “Ah, I don’t watch those movies,” and here you are playing Peter Parker.
Jake Johnson: That’s right. I don’t watch those movies, but I like this movie. And what I like about this movie, and what I like about this version of Peter and what really attracted me to him, is that he’s a very human Peter Parker. The kind of movies I like are more human stories, and they’re more, you know, I want to see how characters really lived.
What I like about this movie is you’re meeting Miles as a regular kid. You’re seeing his family, and you’re seeing just a regular teenager. When you’re meeting Peter, he’s not swinging from building to building, saving people and swooping in upside down and kissing MJ. He’s had his heart broken because of the decisions he’s made. And so this friendship at the core of the movie between these two characters is based in a very real way that you can relate to. If this movie was an independent movie about these two people’s friendships, it wouldn’t be that different from how we actually did those scenes.
How familiar are you with the Spider-Man comics?
Shameik Moore: Well, I’m not familiar with the comic book situation, but I did watch the cartoons, and when I was younger, Miles Morales made an appearance on a Disney show. I remember looking at it and being like, “Whoa, this guy’s black.” I looked in the mirror real quick, and I’m like…
Jake Johnson: “Whoa, this guy’s black.”
Shameik Moore: [laughs] His face looked very much like me, in that it wasn’t just that he’s black. Like the newer, the one that’s in this movie doesn’t … We have similar features, but it doesn’t look like me, per se. The one before did [in the Disney show]. It’s like someone took a photo of me and animated my face. I always felt like I was Miles and later on, like while filming the movie Dope, it was a moment where we were really focused on. I was living with two other actors and we reading like The Four Agreements, The Alchemist and The Secret – you know, stuff like that.
And we were meditating and working out. So one of my castmates from Dope comes upstairs and she gives me a journal and she’s like, “You should start writing down your thoughts.” So in that, I just started drawing and writing random thoughts, like things I wanted. But then I remembered, you have to say you are what you want, or you have what you want. Instead of like, “I want to be the best actor, that I am the best actor, I am Miles Morales. I am Spider-Man.” Then [Dope] came out at Sundance and Phil Lord, I guess saw it in the theater and was like, “Yo, I like this guy for Miles Morales.”