Not only did Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse introduce the world to the first ever feature film version of Miles Morales, it also won a well-deserved Oscar for its efforts. Fans can relive the magic at home by purchasing a digital copy on February 26 or a Blu-ray version on March 19, but first the directors responsible for the animated phenomenon - namely Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman - shared their thoughts on the importance of Miles as a character, as well as the ways in which they relate to him most.
Screen Rant: The thing I love most about Into the Spider-Verse is how it really contained the kernel for an entire multiverse franchise while still always being Miles' story. Can you talk a little about balancing all the different factors of the story and still keeping Miles at the heart?
Rodney Rothman: Yeah. That was just plainly the goal. It was the goal from the beginning, it emerged as the double goal as we made the movie.
Bob Persichetti: It was the hardest part. Also the best part.
Rodney Rothman: Yeah, because there were a lot of big complicated ideas and a lot of characters. But we relatively quickly figured out that the more we ran the movie through Miles and expressed his emotions and his experience, the more we were able to solve the problems we had.
Bob Persichetti: Yeah. I mean, if you can imagine the idea of the multiverse, the Spider-verse, and bringing all those characters together... You're sitting in a room and none of it's visualized, and it's like, how do we explain it? And people are going like, 'I don't understand it. What do you mean there's more than one universe? What universe are we in?' And you start to like spin out, you start to think, 'Oh, we've got to really explain this stuff.' We went down those paths.
Peter Ramsey: We said, 'We've got to get Neil Degrasse Tyson in here.' I'm not joking.
Bob Persichetti: Literally, we went down that path. Then essentially we were like, 'You know, our kids don't have a problem with this.' It's the 45 year old people in the room who have a problem with it. So that might say something. But essentially what we discovered was when that stuff was in the movie, it just dragged you down. And as soon as we stripped sort of the nuts and bolts of just defining what a multiverse is and went back to 'What's Miles experience,' it all made sense. That's a really simplistic take on it.
Peter Ramsey: But it took us a long time to figure out.
Bob Persichetti: Because we also didn't have the visuals to explain it. And as soon as the real visuals started to actually be produced and get made, people were like, 'Oh, well, that's obvious. There's a spinning portal with a tunnel!' No longer do we have to describe the fact that he's traveling through a multiverse.
Screen Rant: A lot has been said about representation in the media, and Miles is one way for people to feel seen, but he means different things to different people. As a Latina, hearing Rio speak Spanish to her son was powerful, and of course many Afro-Latino friends don't often see themselves at all in these movies. So I would just like to know what about Miles speaks most to each of you?
Peter Ramsey: I mean, it's obvious for me. Because his dad is a cop! No, there's a story I've told before, and it's a good story because it's true. When you're working on these movies, you're watching footage again and again in digital sessions to critique the lighting or the blocking. And several times during the process, sitting in one of those rooms, I'd look at a shot of Miles doing something you'd see in any other kids' adventure movie that I've seen growing up and I'd just kind of [catch] myself. I don't think I've ever had that experience of seeing a black kid that looks like Miles, who would have been me when I was that age, in a story like that. And it's a weird thing, because on the face of it's not that big of a deal, but on a deeper level, it's just this involuntary shock of recognition. It's like a vitamin that I didn't get when I was that age; it's like that missing thing that suddenly [had me] looking back to my eight year old self. Wow. So it's a powerful thing. It's a little mysterious too.
Bob Persichetti: Yeah. I mean, mine is more about just sort of, I guess the journey of Miles or the situation he's in. The thing that I could relate to most specifically about Miles was sort of the family dynamic. I had a very clear father figure. And then a very similar, very clear sort of uncle father figure that - minus the killing of individuals. My uncle was the one that whose life looked like a kind of life that I would love to lead. And my dad was very sort of strict, so that was the stuff that I hooked into immediately. That's the dynamic. If we can make that triangle work, then the rest of the movie can go right on top of it.
Rodney Rothman: I kind of agree. I mean, I grew up in New York, my family's from Queens and Brooklyn, and, and I relate to Miles as a character. Part of what was pleasurable or moving to me while working on the movie was finding ways to connect to the character and to think about and express his story. The reaction from people who connect to the movie because they see themselves on screen is really moving to me and isn't something that I necessarily thought I'd ever get to experience. The process of finding commonality is a big part of why I watch a movie. And when my son watches it with me, I enjoy him seeing it too.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is available on Digital starting February 26 and on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD starting March 19.